Red Sox

Sox take fizz out of Brewers, 10-4

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Sox take fizz out of Brewers, 10-4

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON -- The Red Sox returned to Fenway Park, maintaining the red-hot momentum that propelled them through their best nine-game road trip since 1977, by beating up on the Brewers 10-4.

The Brewers, making their first appearance at Fenway since 2008 (when the Sox swept the three-game series), had little to like in their return. Starter Shaun Marcum lasted just one inning, needing 44 pitches.

John Lackey got through an up-and-down first three innings to even his record at 5-5. Lackey needed 25 pitches (16 strikes) facing six batters in the first inning, when he gave up two runs. In the second, though, he retired the Brewers in order, using just nine pitches (seven strikes). He came back to face six batters again in the third, allowing two more runs, on 24 pitches (17 strikes).

But after a no-out RBI single to Prince Fielder in the third, Lackey retired the next 15 batters three on strikes, two fly balls, and the rest infield grounders before allowing a one-out single to center by Nyjer Morgan.

Adrian Gonzalez went 3-for-3 in his first three at-bats including his 15th home run of the season, into the first row of Monster seats to lead off the fifth needing a triple to complete the cycle. But, Gonzalez, who has 10 career triples and two this season, grounded into an inning-ending double play in the sixth and walked in the eighth. He scored each of the first three times he reached base.

With the Brewers leading 2-0 in the first, Jacoby Ellsbury cut the lead in half with his eighth home run of the season, into the Sox bullpen. With one out, Gonzalez singled to center and scored on David Ortizs double to right.

The Sox added two more in the second. With two outs Dustin Pedroia walked and went to third on Gonzalezs double. With both scoring on Kevin Youkilis single to center, giving the Sox a 4-2 lead.

But the Brewers scored two of their own in the next inning. Rickie Weeks, Morgan, and Braun led with consecutive singles, Weeks scoring on Fielders single. Casey McGehee grounded into a double play, scoring Morgan, setting up Lackeys string of 15 Brewers retired.

After Gonzalezs solo homer in the fifth, the Sox added two in the sixth and three in seventh, securing the win.

Lackey got the win, going eight innings, giving up four run on eight hits with five strikeouts and no walks. Marco Estrada, who replaced Marcum in the second inning, took the loss, falling to 1-4.

Matt Albers, making his first appearance since June 9, pitched a perfect ninth inning, striking out Fielder and McGehee.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Adrian Gonzalez
Gonzalez went 3-for-4 with three runs scored, and an RBI. He fell a triple shy of the cycle, going 3-for-3 in his first three at-bats, scoring each time. He grounded into an inning-ending double play in the sixth and walked in the eighth. He improved his league-leading average from .347 to .352, while his slugging percentage (fourth in the AL to start the game) went from .596 to .612, and his on-base percentage of .402 (fifth) improved to .408.

His home run to lead off the fifth his 15th of the season into the first row of Monster seats, put the Sox ahead, 5-4, proving to be a decisive run on the way to a 10-4 win.

HONORABLE MENTION: Dustin Pedroia
Pedroia went 1-for-4 with a walk, a run scored, and an RBI. But it was his defense that that was the difference in this game. He had six assists, including the front of a double play on Casey McGehee in the third to start Lackeys string of retiring 15 consecutive batters. He also made a highlight-reel play with a diving stop on Jonathan Lucroys grounder in fourth inning.

THE GOAT: Shaun Marcum
Although he was not involved in the decision, Marcum needed 44 pitches to get through the first inning. Staked to a 2-0 lead, he quickly allowed the Sox back into the game, giving up a lead-off home run to Jacoby Ellsbury. In addition to the 44 pitches, he gave up two runs facing eight batters, on four hits, a walk, and a wild pitch. Marcum was done after just one inning, leaving with a left hip flexor strain.

"Right off the bat, were back in the game, Francona said of Ellsburys home run. I think its huge. I know we followed it up, got the other run, and were playing even. I thought that was really important."

THE TURNING POINT
Lackey allowed consecutive singles to the first four batters he faced in the third inning. With no outs, one run already in, the bases loaded, and the Sox leading by one run, Lackey appeared to be on a tightrope. But Casey McGehee hit a sharp grounder to Dustin Pedroia, who converted the double play. Although a run scored, it started a string of 15 consecutive batters set down by Lackey. The Brewers could muster just one hit an eighth-inning single by Nyjer Morgan after that.

"Theres nobody out, bases loaded, thats going to be a couple runs and maybe second and third, manager Terry Francona said. That was the biggest play of the game. Thats the way Pedey plays. I dont think anybody else makes those plays."

STAT OF THE DAY: 54
The Red Sox have won 12 of their last 13 games, outscoring opponents by 54 runs in that span, 100-46.

QUOTE OF NOTE:
Yeah, that ain't gonna happen. I'm not even thinking about that. I would have to have the triple firstfor me to even consider that. --Adrian Gonzalez, who needed a triple after his first three at-bats to complete the cycle.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

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.

Are Red Sox playing a waiting game before naming their new manager?

Are Red Sox playing a waiting game before naming their new manager?

BOSTON — As soon as the American League Championship Series ends, the Red Sox could make a move for their manager.

Industry sources continue to expect Astros bench coach Alex Cora will be the Sox’ pick. No offer had been officially made as of midday Wednesday, one source close to the situation said. But the belief is such an offer waits out of respect to the Astros-Yankees ALCS that can end no later than Saturday if the series goes a full seven games. 

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“Not a doubt it is him,” the source said.

Sunday and Monday would both be off days ahead of the Tuesday night start of the World Series. That leads to the potential for at least a Red Sox announcement of Cora, if not a press conference, before the Fall Classic begins. (If the Astros advance to the World Series, it may be harder to have Cora in Boston for any length of time.)

All those who know Cora praise his ability to connect with players. The former Red Sox infielder is good friends with Dustin Pedroia. Cora’s previous knowledge of the Boston market works in his favor, as well, as does his mettle handling the media. Some question his readiness as a first-time manager, considering he would be taking over a team with great win-now expectations and complicated clubhouse dynamics.

Nothing takes the place of experience and there is such a thing as being too close to players. Ultimately, if the Sox do land Cora, 41, they would be adding the hottest up-and-coming managerial prospect who’s available on the market. The everybody-wants-him reputation could give Cora added cachet with players and certainly becomes a public-relations win for those fans following the search.

The Sox interviewed Ron Gardenhire on Wednesday. Gardenhire was the third candidate the Sox talked to and could well be the last. Cora met with the Sox on Sunday, followed by Brad Ausmus on Monday.