Red Sox

Sloppy eighth inning steals triple play thunder

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Sloppy eighth inning steals triple play thunder

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @dannypicard

BOSTON -- Whether you want to point the finger at Jed Lowries throwhome that hit Ben Zobrist, or at Mike Aviles throw to Jason Varitek instead ofgoing to third on a runner stealing home, it was a play that opened up thesecond game of a day-night doubleheader.

The Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays split the two games at FenwayPark, with the Rays taking the second one, 6-2.

@font-face font-family: "Times New Roman";p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; a:link, span.MsoHyperlink color: blue; text-decoration: underline; a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed color: purple; text-decoration: underline; table.MsoNormalTable font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; div.Section1 page: Section1; The Rays last three runs came in the eighth inning, and thespotlight can easily be put on Tampa Bays attempted double steal whichresulted in a B.J. Upton rundown in between second and first, and an eventualbotched throw to home by Lowrie, leading to Zobrist scoring and giving the Raysa 5-2 lead.

With runners on first and third with one out in the top ofthe eighth, and the Rays trying to extend a 4-2 lead, the Red Sox caught Uptonin a rundown as he tried to steal second. But just as they wanted their plan togo, Zobrist decided to creep closer to home.

As Zobrist made it halfway to the plate, Aviles decided toput all of his attention on Zobrist. It was the right idea, in order to save arun, but instead of charging the runner or even throwing to Varitek at home,Aviles decided to quickly toss it to Lowrie at third.

I started going, and as soon as I saw Zobrist take a stepor two towards third, thats when I let it go, said Aviles after the loss. Iprobably should have ran him back a little bit more. But I just tried to get itin the hands of Jed or Varitek a little quicker.

Lowrie had a tough angle, and his throw home hit a slidingZobrist, and gave Tampa Bay a 5-2 lead in a game that was just 3-2 entering theeighth inning.

Jed didnt have a throwing lane, said Red Sox managerTerry Francona after the loss. Whether he had time to create one, I thought wedid a pretty good job. The runner, it looked to me like he did a good job andgot in the throwing lane.

I tried to get outside and create a throwing lane, saidLowrie. And Tek slid over, and I think Zobrist saw Tek slide over, so hekind of veered out, because he was running well inside the base line. When hesaw Tek slide out, I think he started running towards the outside lane, justlike a magnet.

I thought that was the right throw by Aviles, addedLowrie. He ran B.J. back, and when Zobrist went, he stopped and startedrunning into him, so I think he made the right play. Its just unfortunate thatthe ball hit Zobrist.

It was unfortunate for the Red Sox, because it somewhat tookaway from Lowries heads up play in the top of the fourth inning, when SeanRodriguez hit a hard grounder down the third-base line with runners on firstand second and no outs and a 2-1 Tampa Bay lead.

Lowrie stabbed at the grounder to his right, and quicklymade a decision to step on third and make a hard throw to Dustin Pedroia atsecond base to get another force out. Pedroia got the out at second, and alsogot the out at third, giving the Red Sox their first triple play since JohnValentin turned one in 1994.

And it all started with Lowries heads up decision to stepon third and make a perfect throw to second.

Well at the time of the game, its a big play in the game,said Francona. It was first and second with nobody out. They got a chance toextend the lead, and all of a sudden, the innings over.

It was pretty cool, said Lowrie, who had never even seen atriple play before until Tuesday night. I was thinking that if I got agroundball, Id just step on third and throw it to first, but he hit atwo-hopper to my right side, and it just set up perfect for a triple play.

I know that Pedroia is one of the best in the business atturning it, added Lowrie. So I knew we had a chance when hes out there. AndI got it to him quick and right on target. I know if I do that, hes got a goodchance of turning it.

That triple play also made up for Lowries errant throw homein the second inning, which led to Tampa Bay taking an early 1-0 lead.

But by the time his throw home in the eighth inning hitZobrist, it was 5-2 Rays, and after another run was tacked on in the inning, itwas the one play that stuck out as a turning point after Tuesday nights loss.

Danny Picard is on twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

ALCS: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees 7-1 to force Game 7

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ALCS: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees 7-1 to force Game 7

HOUSTON -  Justin Verlander remained perfect with Houston, pitching seven shutout innings when the team needed him most, and Jose Altuve homered and drove in three runs as the Astros extended the AL Championship Series to a decisive Game 7 with a 7-1 win over the New York Yankees on Friday night.

Acquired in an Aug. 31 trade, Verlander has won all nine outings with the Astros. And with his new club facing elimination in Game 6 against the Yankees, he delivered again.

After striking out 13 in a complete-game victory in Game 2, Verlander threw another gem. The right-hander scattered five hits and struck out eight to improve to 9-0 with 67 strikeouts since being traded from Detroit. George Springer helped him out of a jam in the seventh, leaping to make a catch at the center-field wall and rob Todd Frazier of extra bases with two on and Houston up 3-0.

Game 7 is Saturday night in Houston, with the winner advancing to the World Series against the NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

NLCS: Dodgers win first pennant since 1988 with 11-1 Game 5 rout of Cubs

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NLCS: Dodgers win first pennant since 1988 with 11-1 Game 5 rout of Cubs

CHICAGO -- Enrique Hernandez put a Hollywood ending on an LA story three decades in the making.

Fueled by a home run trilogy from their emotional utilityman, Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers are finally going to the World Series.

Hernandez homered three times and drove in a record seven runs, Kershaw breezed through six crisp innings and Los Angeles ended the Chicago Cubs' title defense with an 11-1 rout in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series on Thursday night.

"It feels good to hear World Series," Kershaw said. "It's been a long time coming for this team."

After years of playoff heartache, there was just no stopping these Dodgers after they led the majors with 104 wins during the regular season. With Kershaw firing away at the top of a deep pitching staff and co-NLCS MVPs Justin Turner and Chris Taylor leading a tough lineup, one of baseball's most storied franchises captured its first pennant since Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda managed Kirk Gibson, Orel Hershiser and Co. to Los Angeles' last championship in 1988.

"Every night it is a different guy," Turner said, "and this is one of the most unbelievable teams I've ever been a part of."

Kershaw will be on the mound again when the Dodgers host the New York Yankees or Houston Astros in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night. The Yankees have a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6 of the ALCS at Houston on Friday night, so one more New York win would set up another chapter in an old October rivalry between the Yankees and Dodgers.

Los Angeles made the playoffs eight times in the previous 13 seasons and came up short of its 22nd pennant each time, often with Kershaw shouldering much of the blame. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner took the loss when his team was eliminated by the Cubs in Game 6 of last year's NLCS at Wrigley Field.

The ace left-hander was just OK during his first two starts in this year's postseason, but Los Angeles' offense picked him up each time. Backed by Hernandez's powerful show in Chicago, Kershaw turned in an efficient three-hit performance with five strikeouts and improved to 6-7 in the playoffs - matching Burt Hooton's club record for postseason wins.

"To get to be on the mound tonight and get to be going to the World Series on the same night, it's a special thing," Kershaw said. "Who knows how many times I'm going to get to go to the World Series? I know more than anybody how hard it is to get there. So, I'm definitely not taking this one for granted."

When Kenley Jansen retired Willson Contreras on a liner to shortstop for the final out, the party was on . The Dodgers poured out of the dugout and mobbed their dominant closer near the mound, and a small but vocal group of Los Angeles fans gathered behind the visitors' dugout and chanted "Let's go Dodgers! Let's go Dodgers!"

On the field, manager Dave Roberts hugged Lasorda and told the iconic skipper the win was for him.

"I bleed Dodger blue just like you," Roberts said. "Thank you, Tommy."

Hernandez connected on the first two pitches he saw, belting a solo drive in the second for his first career playoff homer and then a grand slam in the third against Hector Rondon. Hernandez added a two-run shot in the ninth against Mike Montgomery.

The 26-year-old Hernandez became the fourth player with a three-homer game in a league championship series, joining Bob Robertson (1971 NLCS), George Brett (1978 ALCS) and Adam Kennedy (2002 ALCS). Hernandez's seven RBIs tied a postseason record shared by four other players who all did it in a Division Series.

Troy O'Leary was the previous player to have seven RBIs in a playoff game, for Boston at Cleveland in the 1999 ALDS.

It was a stunning display for a player with 28 career homers who remains concerned about his native Puerto Rico, which is recovering from a devastating hurricane. He delivered a historic performance in front of his father, Enrique Hernandez Sr., who was diagnosed with a blood cancer related to leukemia in December 2015, but got word last November that he was in remission.

"For me to be able to come here and do something like this is pretty special," said Hernandez, who also goes by Kik�. "My body's here, but my mind's kind of back home. It's hard being away from home with what's going on.

"All I want to do right now is go to my dad and give him a big hug."

Kris Bryant homered for Chicago, but the NL Central champions finished with just four hits in another tough night at the plate. Each of their eight runs in the NLCS came via the long ball, and they batted just .156 for the series with 53 strikeouts.

Long playoff runs in each of the last two years and a grueling five-game Division Series against Washington seemed to sap Chicago of some energy, and its pitching faltered against sweet-swinging Los Angeles. Jose Quintana was pulled in the third inning of the final game, and the Cubs never recovered.

"They executed their plan," Bryant said. "They pitched great and the bullpen was lights out. That makes for a tough time scoring runs."

Turner and Taylor helped put it away for Los Angeles, contributing to a 16-hit outburst while closing out a pair of impressive performances.

Turner singled home Taylor in the Dodgers' five-run third, giving him seven RBIs in the series and 24 throughout his postseason career. Taylor finished with two hits and scored two runs as the Dodgers, who have won five straight NL West titles, improved to 7-1 in this postseason.

Taylor's versatility helped Los Angeles cover for the loss of All-Star shortstop Corey Seager, who missed the series with a back injury, but is expected to return in the next round. Coming off a breakout season, the 27-year-old Taylor hit .316 with two homers and scored five times against the Cubs.

"I couldn't be happier to be a part of this and be with these guys," Taylor said. "It's been an unbelievable year, and I'm just super excited."

OUT WITH A BANG

Hernandez joined Kennedy (2002), Adrian Beltre (2011), Reggie Jackson (1977 vs. the Dodgers) and Babe Ruth (1928) as players to hit three home runs in a postseason series clincher.

LIGHTS OUT

Dodgers relievers have thrown 23 consecutive scoreless innings, a postseason record.