Red Sox

Sale shuts out Rays for six; Pedroia hits homer as Red Sox win, 9-0

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Sale shuts out Rays for six; Pedroia hits homer as Red Sox win, 9-0

BOSTON -- For a change, Boston's hitters made it a much easier night for Chris Sale.

Sale struck out eight over six innings and Dustin Pedroia hit a two-run homer in the first to get Boston's offense off to a fast start, carrying the Red Sox to a 9-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night.

It was the fourth consecutive win for the AL East-leading Red Sox, who remained 4 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Yankees.

Andrew Benintendi had three hits and three RBI and Mitch Moreland drove in three for Boston.

"The early runs were also helpful in not making a stressful outing, with the six innings of work," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "He was able to pitch comfortably."

Fifteen times in his 28 starts, the Red Sox had scored three or fewer runs when Sale was in the game.

"I appreciate them going off tonight," he said.

Tampa Bay lost its third in a row, and has allowed nine runs or more in each game. The Rays entered the day 4 1/2 games behind the AL's second wild-card spot.

Danny Espinosa had three singles for the Rays.

Sale (16-7) allowed six singles, walked two and increased his major-league leading strikeout total to 278. He lowered his ERA to 2.76.

Carson Smith, Heath Hembree and Blaine Boyer each worked an inning in relief.

Matt Andriese (5-3) got just five outs, giving up eight runs - six earned - and seven hits.

"Just not one of those good days," he said. "I was out there throwing strikes, but they were too hittable pitches."

For the second straight night, the Red Sox took control early, putting this one away by scoring three in the first and five in the second.

"That's the second night in a row we kind of got beat up in the first inning and it kind of carried over," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "When you're facing a guy like Chris Sale, it's tough to come back."

Boston won the series opener on Friday, 9-3.

Pedroia homered into the first row of Green Monster seats after Eduardo Nunez singled, making it 2-0. Moreland's groundout scored the other run.

In the second, Benintendi had a two-run double off the Monster, lefty hitter Moreland a two-run single after Mookie Betts, a right-handed batter, was intentionally walked by righty Andriese, and the fifth run scored on third baseman Evan Longoria's throwing error.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rays: OF Steven Sousa Jr. was out after leaving Friday's game with a bruised left knee he sustained running into a side wall along the right-field line.

Red Sox: INF Nunez limped out of the game after beating out an infield hit with a bruised right knee. He returned to the lineup after missing Friday's game with minor back spasms, then singled in his first at-bat, stole second but got up gingerly after a headfirst slide. Farrell said he was likely out Sunday. . LHP David Price (left elbow inflammation) threw two simulated innings. "A good step obviously in his progression to game activity," Farrell said.

WATCHING IRMA

Sale lives in Fort Myers, Florida and his family lives in the area, too. He's watching the hurricane closely, keeping tabs on everyone.

"I think everyone knows that thing's going right where I live and it's rolling. You think about it and at the same time I have a job to do," he said. "It's tough. Everybody in my family lives down there. My wife and kids came up here. My in-laws are staying with my sister and my parents are getting out of there tomorrow. Everyone's safe, but it's still scary."

GOOD RUN

Sale had struck out 12 or more each of the four times he faced the Rays this season. No pitcher had fanned 12 or more in five straight against a team in the last 100 years.

Bob Gibson, Nolan Ryan, Sam McDowell and Randy Johnson (twice) are the only others to do it four straight against a team.

NICE ANNIVERSARY

Pedroia's first career homer came 11 years ago, also going over the Monster.

UP NEXT

Rays: RHP Alex Cobb (10-9, 3.64 ERA) is set to start the series finale Sunday. The Boston-born righty, a big Red Sox fan until he signed with the Rays in 2006, is 4-1 with a 3.34 ERA in his career in Fenway Park.

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (9-16, 4.67) is in line to start. He's 1-2 in his last three with a 6.48 ERA.

NLCS: Dodgers close in on World Series with 6-1 win over Cubs

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NLCS: Dodgers close in on World Series with 6-1 win over Cubs

CHICAGO -For the Los Angeles Dodgers, it's beginning to look a lot like 1988.

Yu Darvish pitched sparkling ball into the seventh inning, Chris Taylor homered again and the Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 6-1 on Tuesday night to open a 3-0 lead in the NL Championship Series.

Andre Ethier also went deep and Taylor added an RBI triple in the fifth as Los Angeles set a franchise record with its sixth consecutive playoff win. Yasiel Puig had two more hits in another entertaining performance that included an impressive bat flip - on a long foul ball in the first inning.

Looking for a four-game sweep and their 22nd NL pennant, the Dodgers will send Alex Wood to the mound Wednesday night at Wrigley Field with a chance to reach the World Series for the first time since Tommy Lasorda managed Kirk Gibson, Orel Hershiser and company to the championship 29 years ago. Jake Arrieta, eligible for free agency after the season, pitches for the Cubs in what could be his final start with the team.

Los Angeles was eliminated by Chicago in the NLCS last year, but this is a different group of Dodgers. Their patient lineup is coming up big in key spots and their pitching staff is much deeper, especially since Darvish was acquired in a trade with Texas in the final minutes before the July 31 deadline.

Not even a return to Wrigley Field could get the Cubs back on track after a rough stay in Los Angeles. Chicago manager Joe Maddon juggled his lineup, inserting Kyle Schwarber into the No. 2 slot and benching slumping second baseman Javier Baez, but the defending World Series champions were shut down by another Dodgers starter and more stellar relief from the NL West champions.

Making their third straight appearance in the NLCS, the weary Cubs also hurt themselves with a couple of big mistakes. Carl Edwards Jr. walked Darvish on four pitches with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth, continuing a rocky postseason for the reliever and leading to a round of boos from a frustrated crowd of 41,871. A passed ball brought home another run in the eighth, and pinch-hitter Kyle Farmer hit a sacrifice fly to make it 6-1.

Darvish departed after striking out Addison Russell in the seventh, pausing for congratulations from his whole infield before heading to the dugout. The Japanese right-hander allowed six hits, including Schwarber's first-inning homer, in his second career playoff win - both coming this year. He struck out seven and walked one.

Tony Watson got two outs, Brandon Morrow worked the eighth and Kenley Jansen closed it out after Ross Stripling gave up two hits in the ninth. With manager Dave Roberts pushing all the right buttons, Los Angeles' bullpen has yet to allow a run in the series.

The Cubs finished with eight hits, one more than in the first two games combined.

The only four-game postseason sweep for the Dodgers came in the 1963 World Series against the New York Yankees. If Los Angeles can finish off Chicago on Wednesday, the Dodgers would have days off before hosting the Yankees or Houston Astros in the World Series opener.

Schwarber's sixth career postseason homer got Chicago off to a fast start, but Jon Jay struck out with two on to end the inning. The Dodgers responded with Ethier's leadoff drive in the second and Taylor's second homer of the series in the third, a mammoth shot to center off losing pitcher Kyle Hendricks.

Ethier had two hits in his first start of this year's playoffs after he missed most of the season with a herniated lumbar disk. Taylor also had two hits and is 4 for 14 for the series, helping make up for the loss of All-Star shortstop Corey Seager to a back injury.

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ALCS: Judge home run sparks New York, Yankees beat Astros 6-4 to even series

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ALCS: Judge home run sparks New York, Yankees beat Astros 6-4 to even series

NEW YORK -  With a soaring shot headed for Yankee Stadium's Monument Park, Aaron Judge got New York back on track for another memorable October.

Judge ignited a rousing rally with a home run, then doubled during a four-run eighth inning to spur the unflappable New York Yankees over the Houston Astros 6-4 Tuesday night and tie the AL Championship Series 2-2.

The Baby Bombers trailed 4-0 against starter Lance McCullers Jr. until Judge homered leading off the seventh. He tied it with a line drive that nearly left the park in the eighth and scored when Gary Sanchez hit a go-ahead two-run double off loser Ken Giles.

The Yankees overcame three errors and have roared back from a second straight 0-2 series deficit - they beat Cleveland in the Division Series by winning three in a row to take that best-of-five matchup.

Aroldis Chapman struck out two in a perfect ninth to cap a three-hitter. New York improved to 5-0 at home in the playoffs and won for the 18th time in their last 21 home games.

Yankee Stadium will be rocking again when Masahiro Tanaka pitches for New York against Dallas Keuchel in Game 5 Wednesday. It's a rematch of the series opener, when Keuchel outdid the Japanese right-hander in a 2-1 Astros win.

An AL MVP candidate marred in a sluggish October, Judge sparked the Yankees by chasing McCullers, who baffled the Yankees with his power breaking ball.

Except for the last one.

Judge launched a curveball into the netting above center field's Monument Park for New York's second hit.

"Once we're within striking distance like that, anything can happen," Judge said.

Houston manager A.J. Hinch pulled McCullers after 81 pitches, Didi Gregorius tripled off Chris Devenski and Sanchez brought Gregorius in with a sacrifice fly.

"I thought Aaron's home run just lit a little spark," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Todd Frazier led off the eighth with a double to left, and pinch hitter Chase Headley then did the same - only after falling between first and second base, taking one step back, then heading for second and sliding in ahead of Jose Altuve's tag.

"Panic," Headley recalled. "I went from one of the best feelings of my career to one of the worst in just a matter of seconds, but fortunately it worked out."

Brett Gardner brought in Frazier on a groundout, and Judge came to bat with the bundled crowd on its feet.

He reached down to stay with a slider and drilled a double high off the left-field wall as a fan in a longsleeve yellow shirt reached down and touched the ball. Gardner came home with the tying run, and Gregorius grounded a single just beyond shortstop Carlos Correa's reach to put runners at the corner. Sanchez, who had been 0 for 13 in the series, scored them both with a slicing drive that skipped to the wall in right-center.

Houston had not lost consecutive games since Sept. 8-10 at Oakland and the major leagues' best road record during the regular season. The Astros had just three hits and are hitting .153 in the series.

Yankees starter Sonny Gray pitched one-hit ball through five innings but again had no run support. His teammates have yet to score for him in four career postseason starts while he's still on the mound, including twice with New York this year.

Houston took a 3-0 lead in the sixth after George Springer walked leading off, and Josh Reddick reached on catcher's interference by Austin Romine - inserted into lineup for his defense.

Robertson walked Altuve and struck out Carlos Correa before Yuri Gurriel lined a three-run double past Frazier and all the way to the wall. Gurriel got hung up between second and third as Altuve scored, and he was tagged out by Judge to end a rundown.

Houston added a fourth run when second baseman Starlin Castro misplayed Brian McCann's grounder in the seventh, allowing Marwin Gonzalez to score from second. It was Castro's second error of the game.

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