Red Sox

NLCS: Puig, Taylor power Dodgers past Cubs 5-2 in Game 1

dodgers_yasiel_puig_101417.jpg

NLCS: Puig, Taylor power Dodgers past Cubs 5-2 in Game 1

LOS ANGELES -- Although Clayton Kershaw once again failed to dominate in a postseason start, these Los Angeles Dodgers don't need one guy to carry them.

With a relentless lineup, flawless relief pitching and a collective charisma epitomized by the bat-flipping Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers are still unbeaten in the postseason and off to a strong start in the NL Championship Series.

Chris Taylor hit a tiebreaking homer in the sixth inning, Puig added a homer and an RBI double to his dynamite postseason, and the Dodgers overcame a short start by Kershaw for a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday night in the NLCS opener.

"We just tried to set the tone early against the Cubs," closer Kenley Jansen said. "We understand they're the defending champions, so they're a really good team. We understand that we won 104 games, but right now it doesn't matter."

Charlie Culberson doubled, drove in the tying run and scored another while replacing injured All-Star shortstop Corey Seager for the resourceful Dodgers, who improved to 4-0 in this postseason."

With another collective offensive effort and four innings of perfect relief for Kershaw, the Dodgers calmly overcame an early two-run deficit and took the first game of this rematch of the 2016 NLCS, won in six games by the Cubs on the way to their first World Series championship in 108 years.

"It's two different ballclubs," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "There are some similar players, but I think that the season we had versus the season they had last year, I think that you could parallel those two, and the confidence we have in our group, and they had in their group last year. I just know that this year we're a very focused group, very confident group."

The Dodgers hadn't won the opening game of an NLCS since 1985. Game 2 is Sunday, with Rich Hill starting at home against Chicago's Jon Lester.

Kershaw pitched five innings of four-hit ball, but the Los Angeles ace fell behind 2-0 before getting pulled for a pinch-hitter during the Dodgers' tying rally.

After winning 104 games in the regular season and sweeping Arizona in the Division Series, the Dodgers have a lineup and bullpen equipped to handle almost anything. They made Kershaw's latest laborious postseason start virtually irrelevant, just as they did after he gave up four homers in his 2017 playoff opener against the Diamondbacks last week.

Albert Almora Jr. hit a two-run homer in the fourth, but the final 18 batters failed to reach base for the weary Cubs, still bouncing back from a 10-hour cross-country flight after finishing off Washington in an epic Game 5 late Thursday night.

"Their bullpen is pretty firm, and we have to really get our feet back on the ground," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.

Puig added another huge offensive game to his recent surge with his first career postseason homer - though in a postgame interview on TBS, he was convinced he had hit one before.

The Cuban slugger also included his usual array of creative bat discards and portentous pauses at the plate.

Los Angeles finally got rolling in the fifth when Logan Forsythe and Austin Barnes drew one-out walks before Puig hammered a double to left-center. The ebullient Cuban slugger headed to second only after flipping his bat and spreading his arms wide at the plate.

Puig's sky-high homer off Mike Montgomery in the sixth barely got over the fence in left. Puig is 7 for 15 with six RBIs in the Dodgers' first four playoff games.

"I grew up a little bit," Puig said. "(I'm) going to home plate having fun, because I know (if) I hit nothing, (if) I do nothing in the game, my teammates are going to have my back."

Kenta Maeda got three outs and the victory in his latest standout relief effort, and Jansen struck out all four batters he faced for his third save this postseason.

Kershaw's inability to match his sublime regular-season performances in the playoffs is a central theme of his career. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner won the NLDS series opener last week despite giving up four homers at Dodger Stadium, and Almora's shot made him the first Dodgers pitcher to yield five homers in a single postseason.

CLOSE CALL

Maddon was ejected in the seventh after a call at the plate was reversed. Culberson initially was ruled out when he attempted to score from second, but was called safe after video review when catcher Willson Contreras was deemed to be in violation of blocking home plate without the ball.

"I saw a great baseball play," Maddon said. "His technique was absolutely 100 percent perfect. I could not disagree more with the interpretation of that."

GOOD START

Jose Quintana pitched five innings of two-hit ball for the Cubs one day after his wife, Michel, was taken off the team plane in Albuquerque with a medical ailment. But the Dodgers tied it against him in the fifth and went ahead in the sixth with Taylor's leadoff shot off loser Hector Rondon.

Despite pitching for the third time in six days after a start and a relief appearance against Washington, Quintana retired 12 of Los Angeles' first 13 batters.

SEAGER OUT

Seager was left off the NLCS roster due to back pain. The All-Star's surprise absence deprived Los Angeles of its No. 2 hitter and prompted the club to play Culberson, who had only 15 big league plate appearances in the regular season. But Culberson came through with a series of big plays at the plate and on the basepaths.

UP NEXT

Cubs: Lester won Game 5 of the 2016 NLCS at Dodger Stadium. He started Game 2 of the Division Series this year and added 3 2/3 innings of relief in Game 4 on Wednesday, but the veteran lefty compared that relief appearance to normal side work between starts. Lester's nine career postseason victories are the most among active pitchers except Justin Verlander, who picked up No. 10 in Houston earlier Saturday.

Dodgers: Hill is a former Cubs pitcher with just one career postseason victory, but the resilient veteran regularly comes through in tough situations for LA. He made it through just four innings in Game 2 against Arizona, but yielded only two runs.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Red Sox fall victim to no-hitter for first time since 1993

cp-athletics-manaea-no-hitter-red-sox-042218.jpg
AP Photo

Red Sox fall victim to no-hitter for first time since 1993

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Sean Manaea might've been the only person at the Oakland Coliseum who didn't realize he was still working on a no-hitter.

After a dropped popup in the fifth inning, the Athletics lefty figured it was over.

"I didn't even think about it until I looked up in the seventh or eighth," Manaea said, "and I was like, `Oh my God, why is there still a zero on there?'"

Because it was ruled an error. And his shot at history remained intact.

Manaea pitched the first no-hitter against Boston in almost exactly 25 years, with an overturned call on the bases preserving the gem Saturday night in Oakland's 3-0 win over the sizzling Red Sox.

Manaea struck out 10, walked two and threw 108 pitches to finish off Oakland's first no-no since Dallas Braden tossed a perfect game against Tampa Bay in 2010.

Manaea got Hanley Ramirez to ground out to complete the first no-hitter versus the Red Sox since Seattle's Chris Bosio did it on April 22, 1993.

"I just telling myself, keep everything the same, and not let anything get too big for me," Manaea said.

Boston looked as if it had a hit with two outs in the sixth at the Oakland Coliseum. Andrew Benintendi hit a grounder to the right side, tried to dodge a tag by first baseman Matt Olson and was called safe.

After the umpires conferred, Benintendi was ruled out for going wide of the baseline. Benintendi ran onto the grass in foul territory to get around Olson.

"Do I agree with it? No," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "It is what it is."

Said Benintendi: "It's just a missed call."

Sandy Leon reached in the Red Sox fifth when A's shortstop Marcus Semien ranged into shallow center field and dropped a popup trying to make an over-the-shoulder catch. The play was scored as an error.

Manaea said he figured it was a hit. A few innings later, he noticed what everybody else already knew -- no-hitter in progress.

"So after that, my adrenaline started pumping a little bit again, and I really wanted to finish this thing out," he said.

Manaea (3-2) had been battered by Boston in three previous starts, going 1-2 with a 13.50 ERA.

But the 26-year-old cooled off a Red Sox team that had won eight in a row and 17 of 18. Boston began the game with a major league-best .293 batting average.

Manaea retired 14 straight batters after walking Mookie Betts leading off the game.

A lot of Red Sox fans were in the announced crowd of 25,746, and many rose to their feet when Manaea took the mound in the ninth.

Betts hit a ball to the warning track with one out in the ninth. After Benintendi walked with two outs on a full count, Ramirez hit a grounder to Semien for an easy force play at second.

"My heart was beating out of my chest and I was trying to do everything I could (to stay calm)," Manaea said before he was interrupted by teammates who smeared celebratory shaving cream in his face, dumped water and Gatorade on his head and left him with a plastic bubble gum tub for a hat.

It was the 12th no-hitter by the Athletics franchise and the 12th thrown against the Red Sox.

This was the first no-hitter in the majors since Miami's Edinson Volquez pitched the only one of the 2017 season against Arizona on June 3.

Chris Sale (1-1) struck out 10 and gave up three runs on six hits and one walk in seven innings.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: SS Xander Bogaerts (left ankle) will play for Triple-A Pawtucket on a rehab assignment on Tuesday and Wednesday. If all goes well he'll be activated when the team opens a six-game homestand on Friday, Cora said. . RHP Steven Wright (left knee surgery) left a rehab game at Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday with back tightness. . RHP Tyler Thornburg (right shoulder surgery), who's at the team's extended spring training facility in Fort Myers, Florida, will join the team on Friday and could throw batting practice, Cora said.

Athletics: RHP Yusmeiro Petit was activated from the family emergency list on Saturday. . RHP Josh Lucas was sent to Triple-A Nashville in a corresponding move. . RHP Paul Blackburn (right forearm strain) threw on flat ground for a second straight day on Saturday, but the A's haven't established a timetable for his return, manager Bob Melvin said.

UP NEXT

LHP David Price (2-1, 2.25 ERA) will pitch for Boston in Sunday's series finale. RHP Daniel Mengden (2-2, 4.50) will pitch for Oakland.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Moreland's grand slam helps Red Sox keep streak going with win over Athletics, 7-3

Moreland's grand slam helps Red Sox keep streak going with win over Athletics, 7-3

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Even with slugger J.D. Martinez getting a rare day off, the Boston Red Sox had more than enough power in their lineup to keep the best start in franchise history going.

Mitch Moreland hit a grand slam, Jackie Bradley Jr. added a three-run homer and the streaking Red Sox won their eighth in a row, beating the Oakland Athletics 7-3 on Friday night.

Boston extended the best start in the franchise's 118-year history, improving to a major league-leading 17-2. The Red Sox have won 17 of 18 since losing to Tampa Bay on Opening Day.

"They're doing something special, let's be honest," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "There's a lot of people watching the team now and there's a lot of people talking about the team. You can't help it. You flip the channels and they're talking about what's going on."

Hundreds of Boston fans decked in red showed up at the Oakland Coliseum. They saw Moreland hit the fifth grand slam by the Red Sox this season - they didn't hit any last year.

Eduardo Nunez had three hits and scored while Hanley Ramirez singled twice for the Red Sox.

"Everybody in here is doing the same thing and it's showed all year how well we've played," Moreland said. "Everybody's stepped up and done something to help the team win and that's the reason we're where we're at."

Jed Lowrie matched his career high with four hits for Oakland. Lowrie, who doubled in a run in the first, leads the majors in hits (32) and RBIs (22). The A's had won four in a row.

"Just a consistent routine and taking good swings, putting together good at-bats every time up, every day," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said.

Moreland homered on the first pitch from reliever Emilio Pagan in the sixth. Mookie BettsAndrew Benintendi and Ramirez opened the inning with three consecutive singles off starter Kendall Graveman (0-4) before Moreland's towering shot to right.

This is the first time the Red Sox have hit five slams before May 1.

"In that situation I'm just trying to go up and get a pitch up in the zone," said Moreland, who has homered in each of his last four games at the Coliseum. "It just happened to be a slider that kind of popped of out of his hand and I was able to put a good swing on it."

Bradley homered off Graveman in the second inning, his second in four games.

The power surge by the Red Sox was timely on a night starter Drew Pomeranz failed to make it out of the fourth inning in his season debut. Activated off the disabled list earlier in the day after recovering from a strained forearm, the left-hander struck out seven but allowed three runs and seven hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Hector Velazquez (3-0) pitched three scoreless innings for the win. Boston also got a lift from Matt Barnes, who retired four batters and struck out pinch-hitter Matt Joyce with the bases loaded to end the seventh.

CREW CHIEF REVIEW

Chad Pinder hit what appeared to be a two-run homer off Pomeranz in the first inning but first base umpire Hunter Wendelstedt ruled it foul after a few moments of uncertainty. Crew chief and home plate ump Brian Gorman called for a review and the foul call stood. Pinder struck out to end the inning.

LEFTY ISSUES

The A's dropped to 1-6 in games started by left-handed pitchers. Boston will also start lefties on Saturday and Sunday.

GRAVEMAN'S DAY

Graveman, Oakland's opening day starter, pitched into the sixth and allowed six runs on seven hits. He has allowed seven home runs this season, tied with Cole Hamels of Texas for most in the majors.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: Martinez was given a planned day off. Martinez has been Boston's hottest hitter over the past two weeks while going 13 for 22 (.591) with four home runs. ... LHP Bobby Poyner will make at least one more rehab start before the team decides whether or not to activate him off the DL. Poyner has been out since April 12 with a strained left hamstring. ... RHP Marcus Walden was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket to make room for Pomeranz.

Athletics: RHPs Chris Bassitt and Josh Lucas were recalled from Triple-A Nashville. LHP Daniel Coulombe was optioned down.

UP NEXT

Boston's Chris Sale (1-0, 1.23 ERA) faces Sean Manaea (2-2, 1.63 ERA) in matchup of lefties at the Coliseum on Saturday. Sale has yielded three runs and struck out 31 over 22 innings this season. Manaea has been Oakland's most consistent pitcher, allowing two or fewer runs in each of his four starts.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE