Ben Lively hits 1st rough patch as Phillies downed in desert by D-backs

Ben Lively hits 1st rough patch as Phillies downed in desert by D-backs


PHOENIX -- Entering Saturday night's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Phillies had won two straight games on the strength of a pair of good starts by Aaron Nola and Mark Leiter Jr.
Those two outings affirmed the age-old reality that even a bad team has a shot to win if it gets good pitching.
Ben Lively couldn't keep the streak of good starts going. He was tagged for seven hits and five runs over 5 1/3 innings in a 9-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks (see Instant Replay).
The bullpen work was also spotty. Hoby Milner, Edubray Ramos and Adam Morgan allowed a combined eight baserunners and four runs over 2 2/3 innings.
"You pitch better," manager Pete Mackanin said when asked if there could have been a way to hold down the Diamondbacks' powerful offense. "That's basically it. Our guy pitched great yesterday. We had some good pitching in that game. Today, not so much."
The Diamondbacks improved to 27-10 at home while the Phillies fell to 10-29 on the road and 24-49 overall.
Arizona lefty Robbie Ray and three relievers held the Phillies to two runs on the night. Both of them came on one swing by Lively. Yes, the pitcher provided all of the Phillies' offense. Lively clubbed his first career homer, a two-run shot, on a first-pitch, 95-mph fastball from Ray with two outs in the fourth inning.
"My first at-bat, he threw fastballs right by me and I was like, 'Dang, that's pretty firm,' " Lively said. "The next at-bat they gave me the go-ahead on the first pitch and it was right there."
Lively lined the pitch over the wall in right-center to give the Phils a 2-1 lead.
As it turned out, the homer may have hurt Lively as much as it helped him.
"I was pretty pumped up about that and I kind of stayed a little too pumped up," he said.
He lost the lead in the fourth, giving up a run after allowing two straight hits to open the inning. He allowed two more hits and a run in the fifth then was tagged for two more in the sixth, one on a leadoff homer by Jake Lamb.
"I just kind of let it get away from me," Lively said. "I was squeezed down in the zone. That kind of got me a little more, I wouldn't say frustrated, but I just got going, going, going and kind of let the speed of the game get to me. I usually don't let that happen. I made some bad pitches.
"I can't pitch like that. I was making terrible pitches. I was grabbing the ball and going. I wasn’t even thinking. You can't do that up here."
Lively had begun his major-league career with four straight quality starts before this outing.
"Arizona has a good hitting team," Mackanin said. "He made a few mistakes. He'd been doing well for us. But today wasn't his best outing."
Ray pitched 6 1/3 innings for his eighth win. He is 6-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his last seven starts.
The game featured some good and bad Phillies' defense. Third baseman Maikel Franco made two fielding gems, but centerfielder Odubel Herrera was charged with an error when he dropped a ball at the warning track in the second. It led to an unearned run behind Lively.
"The only thing I can think about talking about was Lively's two-run homer run and two great plays by Franco," Mackanin said.
Mackanin was right. There wasn't much worth talking about after this one. That has been the case too many times in this long, losing season. Maybe Sunday will offer something more.

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

USA Today Images

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


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

USA Today Images

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).