Phillies

MLB Notes: Red Sox honor David Ortiz by retiring his No. 34

MLB Notes: Red Sox honor David Ortiz by retiring his No. 34

BOSTON -- David Ortiz stepped up to the microphone, wiped the tears from his eyes and waited for the sold-out Fenway crowd to shout "Papi!" a few more times.

The Red Sox waited at the top of their dugout. The Los Angeles Angels tipped their caps. Friends and family and dignitaries from two countries lined the infield. Three World Series trophies glistened in the twilight sun.

Hall of Famers Carl Yastrzemski, Pedro Martinez, Wade Boggs and Jim Rice -- whose numbers preceded Ortiz's to the Fenway facade -- were the only ones who could know how he felt.

"It's an honor to get to see my number right next to all those legends," Ortiz said before his No. 34 was unveiled along the right-field roof boxes on Friday night.

"I remember hitting batting practice on this field; I always was trying to hit those numbers. But I never thought about having my number up there," he said. "Every player that is up there did things that are very, very special for this ballclub and this community" (see full recap).

Braves: Freeman progressing from broken wrist
ATLANTA -- Braves slugger Freddie Freeman says his broken left wrist is healing much faster than expected.

After undergoing a CT scan and meeting Friday with team physician Dr. Gary Lourie, Freeman was told his wrist is 80-90 percent healed, up from 50 percent last week.

The improvement led Freeman to move up the timetable of his return from July 14, the day after the All-Star break against Arizona, to July 6 at NL East-leading Washington.

"They're all pretty shocked it got to that point, too, especially with me stressing it the last couple of days catching balls and all that stuff," he said. "It's actually great news."

Freeman's prognosis was a surprise, though maybe not as much as his announcement Wednesday that he's moving from first to third base to keep Matt Adams in the lineup.

Even so, Lourie's report was encouraging enough that Freeman was cleared to swing a bat for the first time since getting hit by a pitch on May 17. Freeman hopes to begin a three- to four-game rehab assignment next weekend.

"Everybody's been saying they really didn't think I was going to be back in eight to 10 weeks," he said. "Obviously I had a different mindset going in to it. But we're just at two days over five weeks right now so I'm pretty ecstatic with how the recovery has gone" (see full story).

Marlins: Jeb Bush, Romney join forces to pursue purchase of team
MIAMI -- Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has switched sides in pursuit of the Miami Marlins, and he's trying to beat out former teammate Derek Jeter.

Bush has joined forces with businessman Tagg Romney in a group trying to buy the Marlins, two people familiar with the negotiations said Friday. The people confirmed Bush's new role to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the parties involved in the sales talks aren't commenting publicly.

One of the people said South Florida businessman Jorge Mas has contacted the Marlins to say he's leading a group interested in buying the franchise, meaning at least three groups are pursuing a deal.

Bush and Jeter, the 14-time New York Yankees All-Star shortstop, led rival groups earlier this year. They then joined forces, but Bush dropped out in May.

Now they're rivals again, and Jeter is still exploring financing options.

The Romney-Bush group also includes Quogue Capital investment fund founder Wayne Rothbaum, Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine and former Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart.

The Romney and Jeter groups have bid about $1.3 billion to buy the team from Jeffrey Loria but have not yet raised the money needed. Jeter met Thursday with Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred and Marlins president David Samson, and told them he doesn't yet have the necessary money and is still seeking help from other investors.

Loria bought the Marlins for $158.5 million in 2002 from John Henry (see full story).

Gore: Padres agree to $6.7 million signing bonus
SAN DIEGO -- Left-hander MacKenzie Gore, the third overall pick in this year's amateur draft, has agreed to a minor league contract with the San Diego Padres that includes a $6.7 signing bonus.

San Diego called a Saturday news conference with Gore, general manager A.J. Preller and director of scouting Mark Conner to announce the agreement.

An 18-year-old from Whiteville High School in North Carolina, Gore was 11-0 with 0.19 ERA this year as a senior. He struck out 158 strikeouts and walked five in 74 1/3 innings.

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).