Miscues neutralize Phillies' power in 1-run loss to Nationals

Miscues neutralize Phillies' power in 1-run loss to Nationals


WASHINGTON — This one left Pete Mackanin shaking his head.

"If you would have told me that we'd hit three three-run homers and lose the ballgame, I wouldn't have believed it," the Phillies manager said after his team hung around and hung around before losing, 11-10, to the Washington Nationals on Friday night (see observations).

"You score 10 runs ... you'd like to win a game when you score 10."

Those 10 runs went for naught because of some horrendous defense in the bottom of the third inning. Second baseman Cesar Hernandez booted a tailor-made double-play ball and three batters later the Nationals put four runs on the board when Michael A. Taylor clubbed an inside-the-park grand slam against Phillies starter Jake Thompson.

The inside-the-park grannie was a little tainted because it came as the result of a misplay in center field by Odubel Herrera (see video).

Herrera at first broke in on Taylor's line drive. He then tried to scurry back before jumping and flailing at air. The ball rolled to the wall and the bases emptied as the Nats took a 6-3 lead that they never relinquished.

"That one inning hurt us bad," Mackanin said. "It would have been two outs and nobody on base and it led to four runs. That was the difference in the game."

Mackanin acknowledged that Herrera misplayed Taylor's liner to center, but added that it was a tough play.

"The ones right at you, you can't tell if they're going to take off or sink and he just misplayed it," Mackanin said.

Herrera then compounded the misplay by not exactly busting it for the ball as it rolled to the wall.

"I couldn’t tell for sure," Mackanin said. "It did not look like he was sprinting. But in the end, [Taylor] would have been out by 10 feet. The relay (from shortstop J.P. Crawford) was way off the mark."

Herrera explained the misplay.

"I didn’t read the line drive well," he said. "I thought it was going to sink. It didn't. It picked up."

Herrera's miscues did not stop with the misplay in the third inning. In the fifth, he was taking his time getting set in the batter's box when Washington ace Max Scherzer whistled a third-strike fastball by him. Herrera is notorious for being slow to get set and Scherzer taught him a lesson. Or did he? Time will tell. And, no, Herrera was not asking for time out when he raised his left hand. He does that every time, as if to tell the umpire he's not ready. But once he's in the box, he's fair game.

"He caught me by surprise," Herrera said. "I thought it wasn't even legal, or valid, what he did. I thought the umpire was going to say something to him but he didn't. Obviously, they know me and that I take a little long to set up, so he took advantage of it."

Mackanin did not think Scherzer did anything wrong.

"Odubel has a tendency to get caught up in his own little routine and, you know, he has to make sure he doesn't get caught putting his head down and waiting to get ready," he said. "We've seen quick pitches before and that really wasn’t even a quick pitch. Scherzer wound up and caught everybody by surprise."

After the four-run third inning, Washington kept on scoring, a run in the fourth against Jake Thompson, three in the sixth against reliever Yacksel Rios and one in the eighth against Hector Neris.

As it turned out, Washington needed all those runs because the Phils got a three-run homer from Rhys Hoskins (his 13th in 102 at-bats) in the seventh and another three-run homer from Maikel Franco in the ninth to make it a one-run game. Sean Doolittle came on with no outs and stopped the Phillies' rally. The South Jersey product is 17 for 17 in save opportunities since joining the Nats from Oakland in a July trade. Doolittle struck out all three batters he faced, including Jorge Alfaro. El Oso responded by breaking his bat over his knee in frustration. That's a strong man.

You know who else is strong? Nick Williams. He turned around a Scherzer fastball for a three-run home run in the first inning and finished with four hits on the day he turned 24. Williams, who has 10 homers and 43 RBIs since arriving from Triple A on June 30, was pumped to face Scherzer, last year's NL Cy Young award winner.

"In the [batting] cage before the game, I was talking with (hitting coach Matt) Stairs and he said this is probably the best pitcher you'll face in this league," Williams said. "A lot of people think he's the best pitcher in the game. I've watched him a lot on TV and everyone knows him. Stepping in the box, it's kind of like a big-league call-up all over again. You watch these guys as a kid and then you face them. The result — it was crazy. I can't even explain it."

Williams' three-run homer gave the Phils an early lead, but it didn't hold up. It's not often the Phils score 10 runs in a game, but that wasn't enough to overcome some poor defense.

The loss dropped the Phils to 53-88, worst in the majors.

Washington's magic number for clinching the NL East title is down to three.

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


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).