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Best of MLB: Kendrys Morales launches 3 homers in Blue Jays' win

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Best of MLB: Kendrys Morales launches 3 homers in Blue Jays' win

BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Orioles' seven-game winning streak ended under a barrage of home runs by Kendrys Morales, who went deep three times and had a career-high seven RBIs to provide the Toronto Blue Jays with an 11-8 victory Thursday night.

Looking to sustain its charge into the thick of the AL playoff picture, Baltimore bolted to a 5-2 lead in the third inning before the last-place Blue Jays stormed back behind Morales, who had four hits and scored four runs.

Morales hit a two-run homer in the third, an RBI single in a five-run fifth, added a three-run drive in the sixth and concluded his big night with a solo shot in the eighth.

It was his second career three-homer game. The first was Sept. 20, 2015, at Detroit.

Adam Jones and Chris Davis homered for the Orioles, who fell 2 games back in the race for the final AL wild card (see full recap).

Sabathia stifles Red Sox again in Yankees’ win
NEW YORK -- CC Sabathia shut down the Boston Red Sox for the fourth time this season and the New York Yankees got homers from Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird on the way to a 6-2 victory Thursday night in the opener of a pivotal four-game series.

Bird drove in three runs and Sanchez had two RBIs as the second-place Yankees shaved Boston's lead in the AL East to 4 1/2 games. This weekend set in the Bronx marks the final meeting of the season between the longtime rivals -- and perhaps New York's last chance to make a serious run at its first division title in five years.

New York maintained a tenuous hold on the league's top wild card (see full recap).

Diamondbacks become first team to sweep Dodgers this year
PHOENIX -- Zack Greinke earned his major league-best 16th victory with six strong innings and the Arizona Diamondbacks beat Los Angeles 8-1 on Thursday to complete the first series sweep of the Dodgers this season.

Chris Iannetta and A.J. Pollock homered for the Diamondbacks, who matched their season-best seventh straight victory and pulled 3 1/2 games ahead of idle Colorado for the National League's top wild card spot.

The Dodgers, still with by far the best record in the majors (91-40), have lost a season-worst five in a row.

Greinke (16-6) allowed a run and four hits, striking out six and walking two, to improve to 13-1 in 16 home starts this season (see full recap).

MLB Playoffs: Javier Baez snaps out of funk to help Cubs avoid sweep

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MLB Playoffs: Javier Baez snaps out of funk to help Cubs avoid sweep

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 (see full recap).

Tanaka, Yankees blank Astros to take ALCS 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 (see full recap).

MLB Playoffs: Yankees storm back for win over Astros to even ALCS

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MLB Playoffs: Yankees storm back for win over Astros to even ALCS

NEW YORK -- Aaron Judge ignited a rousing rally with a home run, then doubled during a four-run eighth inning to spur the New York Yankees over the Houston Astros 6-4 Tuesday night and level the AL Championship Series 2-2.

The Yankees trailed 4-0 against starter Lance McCullers Jr. until Judge homered leading off the seventh. He tied it with a line drive that nearly left the park in the eighth and scored on Gary Sanchez's go-ahead two-run double off loser Ken Giles.

The Yankees have rallied from a second straight 0-2 series deficit -- they beat Cleveland in the Division Series by winning three in a row to take that best-of-five matchup.

Aroldis Chapman struck out two in a perfect ninth, and New York improved to 5-0 at home in the playoffs.

Masahiro Tanaka pitches for New York against Dallas Keuchel in Game 5 Wednesday and rematch of the opener, won by the Astros 2-1 (see full recap).

Dodgers on brink of World Series after shutout
CHICAGO -- Yu Darvish pitched sparkling ball into the seventh inning, Chris Taylor homered again and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 6-1 on Tuesday night to open a commanding 3-0 lead in the NL Championship Series.

Andre Ethier also went deep and Taylor added an RBI triple in the fifth as Los Angeles set a franchise record with its sixth consecutive playoff win. Yasiel Puig had two more hits in another entertaining performance that included an impressive bat flip -- on a long foul ball in the first inning.

Looking for a four-game sweep and their 22nd NL pennant, the Dodgers will send Alex Wood to the mound Wednesday night at Wrigley Field with a chance to reach the World Series for the first time since their last championship in 1988. Jake Arrieta, eligible for free agency after the season, pitches for the Cubs in what could be his final start with the team.

Los Angeles was eliminated by Chicago in the NLCS last year, but this is a different group of Dodgers. The lineup is patient and pesky and the pitching staff is much deeper, especially since Darvish was acquired in a trade with Texas in the final minutes before the July 31 deadline (see full recap).