Red Sox

Sox flex muscles, down Phils, 7-5

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Sox flex muscles, down Phils, 7-5

PHILADLEPHIA -- Citizen's Bank Park has the well-earned reputation of being one of the game's best hitting environments, a point illustrated once more Saturday night.

The Red Sox hammered out six extra-base hits, including four homers, and held off the Philadelphia Phillies, 7-5.

The Phillies outhit the Sox 15-11, but stranded plenty of scoring opportunities. From the fifth inning through the eighth, the Phils had at least two hits in every inning and yet came away with just one run in that span.

The Sox got solo homers from Mike Aviles, Will Middlebrooks and Jarrod Saltalamacchia and a two-run shot from David Ortiz. Saltalamacchia, a night after getting stiches for a laceration of his left ear, had a single, homer and double in four at-bats.

Three Boston relievers limited the Phillies to a single run over the final three innings with Alfredo Aceves getting the last four outs for his ninth save.

Ryan Sweeney helped bail the pitching staff out in the seventh when he went a long way to the warning track in right-center to make a spectacular diving catch off Carlos Ruiz, saving two runs in the process.

Jon Lester didn't allow a hit the first time through the Phillies order, but then got knocked around a little. In one stretch from the third inning through the fifth, they were 6-for-10, with the big blow coming on a three-run homer from Freddy Galvis.

Lester came out after six, having thrown just 90 pitches as Valentine went to his bullpen.

STAR OF THE GAME: Ryan Sweeney
Sweeney had only one hit -- a double -- as part of the 11-hit attack, but he turned in the play of the game with a spectacular diving catch in the seventh inning to take away what would have been a two-run double by Carlos Ruiz.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jarrod Saltalamacchia
One night removed from a trip to the hospital for stitches in his ear, the catcher returned to the lineup with a vengeance, collecting three hits -- a homer, single and double -- while knocking in a run and scoring two.

GOAT OF THE GAME: Joe Blanton
Getting rocked for seven runs on nine hits is bad enough, but Blanton added to his own troubles by committing not one but two errors fielding his position.

TURNING POINT: The Phils had runners at second and third and one out, trailnig by three, when Rich Hill came in to face Juan Pierre. He got Pierre on a harmless grounder to third that froze the runners.

BY THE NUMBERS: Jon Lester has made four career starts at Citizen's Bank Park and the Red Sox are a perfect 4-0 in those games.

QUOTE OF NOTE: "I'm good for tomorrow, plus, I'm due to hit a bomb.'' Jarrod Saltalamacchia, in a late night text message Friday from the hospital to manager Bobby Valentine.

NLCS: Cubs avoid sweep, top Dodgers 3-2 to cut series deficit to 3-1

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NLCS: Cubs avoid sweep, top Dodgers 3-2 to cut series deficit to 3-1

CHICAGO - Javier Baez snapped an 0-for-20 skid with two home runs, Wade Davis hung on for a six-out save and the Chicago Cubs avoided a sweep, holding off the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 Wednesday night in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series.

Jake Arrieta pitched three-hit ball into the seventh inning to held the defending World Series champion Cubs close their deficit to 3-1. Manager Joe Maddon got ejected for the second time in this series in the eighth, and a packed Wrigley Field crowd watched Davis get Cody Bellinger to ground into a game-ending double play.

Maddon was heavily criticized for not using Davis during a 4-1 loss in Game 2. This time, the Cubs closer threw 48 pitches to finish the job.

Willson Contreras also homered for the Cubs. Bellinger and Justin Turner connected for the Dodgers, who had won a team-record six straight playoff games.

Game 5 is Thursday, with Jose Quintana pitching for Chicago against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.

Baez hit solo drives in the second and fifth after going hitless in his first 20 playoff at-bats. Contreras added a long homer against Alex Wood.

Davis entered with a 3-1 lead in the eighth. He gave up a leadoff homer to Turner, who went 2 for 2 and drew two walks.

Maddon became incensed that a swinging strike three against Curtis Granderson was ruled a foul after the umpires discussed the play. Maddon got tossed, and Granderson struck out swinging at the next pitch.

And after walking Yasmani Grandal to put runners on first and second, Davis struck out Chase Utley, who is hitless in his last 24 postseason at-bats.

All seven of Chicago's runs in this series have come on homers. And long drives in the second by Contreras and Baez made it 2-0.

Contreras' homer banged off the left-field videoboard and Baez's landed beyond the left-field bleachers on Waveland Avenue.

Bellinger cut it to 2-1 with his drive to right in the third. But Baez got the lead back up to two with a shot to the left-field bleachers in the fifth, the raucous crowd chanting "Javy! Javy!" for the flashy young star who was co-MVP of the NLCS last year.

No Cubs player had hit two in a playoff game since Alex Gonzalez went deep twice in Game 2 of the 2003 NLCS against Miami.

Arrieta exited with runners on first and second in the seventh after walking Chris Taylor on a 3-2 pitch. He tipped his hat as fans gave him a standing ovation, a fitting show of appreciation for a pitcher with an expiring contract.

Arrieta turns 32 in March and figures to land a huge deal in free agency. The trade that brought him from Baltimore helped fuel Chicago's rise, with the right-hander capturing the 2015 NL Cy Young Award and contributing to last year's drought-busting championship run.

Limited by a right hamstring injury in the final month of the season, he threw 111 pitches. Brian Duensing retired Bellinger on a fly to end the seventh.

Turner made it a one-run game with his homer off the left-field videoboard against Davis in the eighth.

A career-high 16-game winner, Wood gave up three runs and four hits in 42/3 innings.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

ALCS: Tanaka, Yankees top Keuchel, Astros 5-0 for 3-2 lead

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ALCS: Tanaka, Yankees top Keuchel, Astros 5-0 for 3-2 lead

NEW YORK - Masahiro Tanaka pitched seven innings of three-hit ball and the New York Yankees finally solved Houston Astros nemesis Dallas Keuchel, beating the ace lefty 5-0 on Wednesday for a 3-2 lead in the AL Championship Series.

Gary Sanchez hit an RBI single off Keuchel and later homered to help the wild-card Yankees win for the third straight day at home and move within one victory of their first trip to the World Series since 2009.

The teams head back to Houston for Game 6 on Friday night, when Justin Verlander and the reeling Astros will try to regain their footing following an off day and force a decisive Game 7. Luis Severino is scheduled to start for New York.

Just days ago, Houston was up two games to none and appeared to be closing in on its second World Series appearance. But the Astros, like defending AL champion Cleveland before them, have been unable to put away these poised Yankees, who improved to 6-0 at home in this postseason in front of their cheering, chanting fans.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE