Phillies

Behind grand slam, Aaron Altherr, Phillies take down Clayton Kershaw, MLB-best Dodgers

Behind grand slam, Aaron Altherr, Phillies take down Clayton Kershaw, MLB-best Dodgers

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There was no way the Phillies were winning this game, right? Seriously, best team in the majors against one of the worst. Nick Pivetta carried a 6.75 ERA into his start — that's the fifth-highest ever by a Phillies pitcher in a season in which he'd pitched at least 110 innings — and he was facing one of the best pitchers in the game in Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw at Citizens Bank Park on Monday night.

Kershaw, a three-time National League Cy Young award winner, entered with the best ERA in the majors — 2.12 — and he'd allowed just one run in 31 innings in his previous four starts against the Phillies.

What's more, five players in the Phillies' lineup had never faced Kershaw, and usually, the advantage goes to the pitcher in those situations.

So what happens?

The Phillies win the game, 4-3, and one of those players who'd never faced Kershaw accounts for all the runs with a grand slam, the first one that Kershaw has allowed in his career (see observations).

"That's obviously pretty special to be the first one to do that," said Aaron Altherr, who provided the grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning. It turned a 2-0 Phillies' deficit into a 4-2 lead.

"I definitely don't take it for granted. He's obviously a really good pitcher. I just thank God I was able to get a pitch to hit."

"You try to make it just another game when you face him, but deep down you know it's really not because of how good he is and how good he's been over the years. He's a future Hall of Famer. So it's definitely awesome to be able to play against a guy like that."

And beat him.

"Boy, that was fun, any time you beat Kershaw, it’s really nice to see," manager Pete Mackanin said.

Kershaw is now 17-4 with a 2.26 ERA.

While Altherr's grand slam was the big blow, it wasn't the only important contribution from the Phillies' side.

Pivetta (6-10) allowed a pair of solo homers on the first five pitches of the game — one was a leadoff, inside-the-park homer to Chris Taylor — but settled down nicely and followed with five scoreless innings to give his team a chance.

Pivetta, who'd allowed 13 runs in 10 innings in his previous two starts, gave up just two hits (both singles) and a walk after the first inning. He finished with eight strikeouts. His stingy work over his final five innings kept the Phillies in the game until Altherr's heroics with two outs in the sixth.

"The thing I like about him is he really thinks he’s good, he really believes in himself," Mackanin said of Pivetta. "He didn’t quit and he keeps battling, that’s the thing I like about him the most, along with his stuff."

The Phillies' decisive sixth inning against Kershaw started with a pinch-hit walk by Ty Kelly and included a one-out single by Freddy Galvis and a two-out, full-count walk by Rhys Hoskins. Altherr followed with his grand slam.

"It was nice to do something like that but it honestly wasn't all me," Pivetta said. "I wouldn't have gotten that win if Altherr hadn't hit that grand slam and it wouldn't even have started if Ty didn't get that walk and Freddy didn't get that hit and we didn't get another walk, so the guys putting up good ABs in that situation was really nice to see. This win goes out to the team around me and not just me. I mean, yes, I put in five shutout innings after that, but just having those guys pick me up at the end, I think that's what really contributed to this win. It was a nice little boost because I haven't been doing the best lately."

Altherr's grand slam came on a hanging, 1-1 slider. It came off the bat at 107 mph and landed 418 feet from home plate in the second deck above left field.

"I was just telling myself not to get beat," Altherr said. "The first two at-bats, I got jammed. I just wanted to make sure I got the head out. I think he threw me a slider again. I was finally able to get the barrel to it."

The bullpen made the lead stand up, though Hector Neris allowed a solo homer to Curtis Granderson in the ninth to make it a one-run game. Back on April 29, Neris allowed three ninth-inning homers to blow a lead at Dodger Stadium. It was one of the Phillies' worst losses of the season.

"I thought about that right at the start of the inning," Mackanin admitted. "I’m sure he was thinking about it. But the thing I liked about him is he looked like he was eager to go right after the hitters, even when he gave up the home run, he didn’t back off. He went right after them, which was nice to see."

MLB Playoffs: Justin Turner hits walk-off HR to give Dodgers 2-0 lead over Cubs

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MLB Playoffs: Justin Turner hits walk-off HR to give Dodgers 2-0 lead over Cubs

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LOS ANGELES -- Justin Turner hit a three-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 4-1 on Sunday to take a 2-0 lead in the NL Championship Series.

The red-bearded slugger connected on the 29th anniversary of the Dodgers' last game-ending postseason homer: Kirk Gibson's famous pinch-hit drive to beat Oakland in the 1988 World Series opener.

"One of my earliest baseball memories, I was 4 years old at my grandma's house watching that game in `88 and seeing Gibby hit that homer," a smiling Turner said. "So yeah, it feels pretty cool. I thought about doing the fist pump around the bases, but we'll wait until we get to the World Series for that, hopefully."

Turner drove in every run for Los Angeles, going the other way for a tying single in the fifth before sending a long shot to center field off John Lackey in the ninth. A fan wearing a blue Dodgers jersey reached over a railing to catch the ball on the fly.

Turner's second homer of the postseason ended another dramatic night for the Dodgers, who remained unbeaten in these playoffs and moved within two wins of their first World Series appearance since 1988.

"It's very cool, and J.T., we were talking about it in there after the game," manager Dave Roberts said. "Twenty-nine years to the day. It was special. Our guys feel it."

Game 3 in the best-of-seven series is Tuesday night at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Midseason acquisition Yu Darvish starts for the Dodgers against Kyle Hendricks.

Yasiel Puig drew his third walk of the game leading off the ninth, and Charlie Culberson bunted him to second. After losing pitcher Brian Duensing struck out pinch-hitter Kyle Farmer, Chicago manager Joe Maddon went to the bullpen for the 38-year-old Lackey, who pitched on consecutive days for the first time in his 15-year career.

Lackey got the call over All-Star closer Wade Davis, and the veteran starter walked Chris Taylor on six tense pitches.

Turner stepped up and ended it with his fourth career playoff homer. He's been at his best in October, batting .377 with 22 RBIs in the postseason.

"We've been doing it all year long," Turner said. "We're never out of a game. As long as we have outs left, we're going to keep fighting."

Completing the poetry of the moment, a fan in a Chase Utley jersey in the center-field bleachers caught the ball in his glove.

Addison Russell homered in the fifth for the Cubs, who are down early in this rematch of the 2016 NLCS. Chicago won that series in six games and went on to its first World Series championship since 1908, while the Dodgers have been absent from the Fall Classic since 1988.

Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen got the victory with a hitless ninth despite hitting Anthony Rizzo on the hand with a one-out pitch. That ended the Los Angeles bullpen's impressive streak of 22 straight Cubs retired to begin the NLCS, but the Dodgers have thrown eight hitless and scoreless innings of relief in the NLCS.

After a collective offensive effort drove the Dodgers to a 5-2 win in Game 1, Turner did it all in Game 2. He has 10 RBIs in the Dodgers' five postseason games, getting five in the playoff opener against Arizona.

Jon Lester yielded three hits and five walks while failing to get out of the fifth inning in the shortest start of his long postseason career, but the Dodgers couldn't take advantage of a rare shaky night by the Cubs' star left-hander.

Rich Hill struck out eight in five more impressive innings for the Dodgers, but he was pulled for pinch-hitter Curtis Granderson in the fifth in a debatable decision by Roberts.

Russell was off to a 4-for-22 start in the postseason with nine strikeouts before the slugging shortstop put a leadoff homer into the short porch in left field.

Turner evened it moments later by poking a single to right after a leadoff double by Culberson, the Dodgers' improbably successful replacement for injured All-Star shortstop Corey Seager.

The Dodgers chased Lester with two outs in the fifth, but reliever Carl Edwards Jr. came through after several recent postseason struggles, striking out pinch-hitter Chase Utley and then pitching a strong sixth.

Lester was the co-MVP of last season's NLCS, winning Game 5 at Dodger Stadium and yielding two runs over 13 innings in the series. He had nothing near the same success against the Dodgers' revamped lineup in this one, issuing four walks in the first four innings and repeatedly escaping jams.

Dodgers third base coach Chris Woodward held up Turner in the third when it appeared he could have scored from first on Cody Bellinger's double to the gap.

Javier Baez, the other co-MVP of last season's NLCS for Chicago, got to third base in the third with one out but also was stranded.

Up next
Cubs: Hendricks dominated Chicago's playoff opener with seven scoreless innings against the Nationals, but yielded four runs in four innings during the team's wild Game 5 victory in Washington. He is starting on normal rest.

Dodgers: Darvish was outstanding in Game 3 against the Diamondbacks, earning his first career postseason victory with seven strikeouts over five innings of two-hit ball. He was acquired 

MLB Playoffs: Altuve's dash lifts Verlander, Astros over Yanks in Game 2

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MLB Playoffs: Altuve's dash lifts Verlander, Astros over Yanks in Game 2

HOUSTON — Jose Altuve raced home on Carlos Correa's double in the ninth inning, Justin Verlander struck out 13 in a complete game and the Houston Astros beat the New York Yankees 2-1 Saturday for a 2-0 lead in the AL Championship Series.

Correa also homered, but Houston needed a daring dash from Altuve to get Verlander a win. The 5-foot-6 AL MVP front-runner reached with a one-out single against closer Aroldis Chapman , then sprinted around from first base on Correa's shot to right-center field, sliding past catcher Gary Sanchez as he misplayed a short-hop. Altuve had two more hits and is 13 for 23 (.565) this postseason.

Verlander pitched another gem for the Astros, setting a postseason career best for strikeouts and allowing five hits in his second career complete game in the postseason. He threw a season-high 124 pitches and retired baby Bronx Bombers Aaron Judge, Sanchez and Greg Bird in the top of the ninth.

In the bottom of the inning, Judge picked up Correa's hit in right field and threw toward second base. Shortstop Didi Gregorius fielded there, and his throw beat Altuve to the plate by a few steps. But Sanchez bobbled the one-hop as Altuve slid by, and the Astros mobbed Correa in shallow center field. Altuve pointed toward Correa and his teammates from behind the plate (see full recap).

Puig, Taylor power Dodgers past Cubs in NLCS Game 1
LOS ANGELES -- Chris Taylor hit a tiebreaking homer in the sixth inning, Yasiel Puig added a homer and an RBI double to his dynamite postseason, and the Los Angeles Dodgers overcame a short start by Clayton Kershaw for a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday night in the NL Championship Series opener.

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 pitching, Los Angeles calmly overcame an early two-run deficit and took the first game of this rematch of the 2016 NLCS, won in six games by Chicago on the way to its first World Series championship in 108 years.

Game 2 is Sunday, with Rich Hill starting at home against Chicago's Jon Lester (see full recap).