Instant Replay: Mets 5, Phillies 4

Instant Replay: Mets 5, Phillies 4


Maikel Franco made things interesting with a two-out, sixth-inning grand slam, but the Phillies fell just short in their series finale against the Mets.

The Mets won, 5-4, to sweep the series. One of the wins was by 10 runs; the other two were one-run games.

Franco led off the ninth inning with a single but the Phillies couldn't get the tying run past first base.

The Mets scored all of their runs Wednesday night off Vince Velasquez, who again labored and had a quick exit.

The Phillies are 3-6 and have an off day Thursday before heading to D.C. The Mets are 6-3.

Starting pitching report
Velasquez allowed one run in the first and another in the third, but the real turning point for him was the fifth inning. He hit Travis d'Arnaud with a pitch to begin the frame and then walked pitcher Zack Wheeler to put two men on base with no outs for the potent top of the Mets' order.

Wheeler was trying to bunt and popped one up, but home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt inadvertently blocked catcher Cameron Rupp's path to the ball. Velasquez walked Wheeler, walked Michael Conforto to load the bases and gave up three runs in the inning to give the Mets a comfortable lead that held up.

Velasquez has pitched only nine innings in two starts and thrown 194 pitches. He's 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA.

Wheeler, making just his second start since 2014, cruised through five innings before getting pulled with two outs and the bases loaded in the sixth. The grand slam Hansel Robles allowed to Franco muddied Wheeler's line -- he ended up allowing three runs over 5 2/3 innings while striking out four.

Still, his outing had to make the Mets feel good. Wheeler missed all of 2015 after undergoing Tommy John surgery and his comeback attempt in 2016 lasted all of one rehab start before he was shut down.

Bullpen report
The Phillies got scoreless innings from Luis Garcia (recalled earlier in the day from Triple A to take Adam Morgan's place), Pat Neshek, Hector Neris and Joaquin Benoit.

Neshek, Neris and Benoit have combined so far this season to pitch 12 scoreless innings with 15 strikeouts.

At the plate
Franco's grand slam was the second of his career. It went to the deepest part of the park in left-center field. 

Franco is hot after a slow start. Over his last five games, he's 6 for 17 with two homers, a double, eight RBIs and three walks.

Cesar Hernandez had another multi-hit game, his fourth, and is hitting .308/.357/.513.

Michael Conforto led off for the Mets and set the tone, singling and scoring in the first, hitting a solo homer in the third and walking and scoring in the fifth. He's 4 for 7 off Velasquez with two home runs.

Yoenis Cespedes didn't hit three homers, but the Phillies still struggled with him. Cespedes doubled in a run in the first and hit a sacrifice fly in the fifth.

Up next
The Phillies are off Thursday before playing three games this weekend at Nationals Park. From there, they have an off day Monday before playing three with the Mets at Citi Field.

The schedule-makers did no favors for the Phils, who will have played 12 of their first 15 games against the Nats and Mets.

Pitching matchups this weekend:

Friday at 4:05: Aaron Nola (1-0, 4.50) vs. Stephen Strasburg (1-0, 3.21)
Saturday at 1:05: Jeremy Hellickson (1-0, 0.90) vs. Tanner Roark (2-0, 4.09)
Sunday at 1:35: Jerad Eickhoff (0-1, 1.98) vs. Gio Gonzalez (1-0, 0.69)

At least they miss Max Scherzer.

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

USA Today Images

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

USA Today Images

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).