Red Sox

Wakefield watches 'pen blow chance for 200, 9-4

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Wakefield watches 'pen blow chance for 200, 9-4

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
KANSAS CITY The fifth time was far from the charm for Tim Wakefield and his trusty knuckleball in the pitchers personal quest for 200 career wins.

Wakefield was once again denied in his attempt to become the only active 200 game-winner in the big leagues despite carrying a 4-1 lead into the sixth inning, and instead helplessly watched a complete bullpen meltdown lead to a 9-4 drubbing at the hands of the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

Wakefield was cruising into the sixth frame with six hits and only a single run allowed to Kansas City, but the Royals started punishing the 45-year-old twirler once he neared the 90-pitch range. After a Billy Butler strikeout to start the frame Eric Hosmer, Jeff Francouer and Mike Moustakas each tagged Wakefield for a hit and closed it to a one-run game with Wakefields milestone and a three-game Sox winning streak on the line.

Terry Francona pulled Wakefield from the game and instead called on a struggling Matt Albers, who imploded on the Kansas City mound after showing plenty of signs of struggle over the last few weeks. Albers recorded only one out and allowed four runs on three hits and a pair of walks while doing a fascinating impersonation of a batting practice pitcher as his ERA ballooned to 3.71 for the season.

Albers is sporting a bloated 11.25 ERA in seven appearances and eight innings pitched during the month of August, and appears in danger of falling out of favor in the Sox bullpen.

The big blow was an Alex Gordon double to left-center field that ripped things open for the Royals, and it was much too late by the time Franklin Morales entered the game for the Sox.

The disastrous eight-run sixth inning tied for their worst of the season wiped out solid offensive performances from the bottom third of the lineup and the first two-hit game and Major League RBI for rookie Ryan Lavarnway.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

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