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MLB Playoffs: Javier Baez's blast gives Cubs win over Giants

MLB Playoffs: Javier Baez's blast gives Cubs win over Giants

CHICAGO -- Jon Lester outpitched Johnny Cueto with eight sparkling innings, Javier Baez homered in the eighth and the Chicago Cubs beat the San Francisco Giants 1-0 in a tense Game 1 of their NL Division Series on Friday night.

Lester retired his last 13 batters in a dominant performance, but the game was scoreless when Baez sent Angel Pagan scrambling to the left-field wall with a towering drive. With a raucous crowd of 42,148 and every player anxiously tracking the flight of the ball, Pagan ran out of room as it landed in the basket that tops the ivy-covered walls at Wrigley Field.

Aroldis Chapman gave up Buster Posey's two-out double off the ivy in the ninth before Hunter Pence bounced to second for the final out, wrapping a bow on Chicago's first meaningful game in weeks (see full recap).

Dodgers hold off Nationals in series opener
WASHINGTON -- Clayton Kershaw earned a rare postseason victory, and rookie Corey Seager and Justin Turner homered off Max Scherzer on Friday night, leading the Los Angeles Dodgers past the Washington Nationals 4-3 in Game 1 of their NL Division Series.

Kershaw, a lefty who owns three NL Cy Young Awards, worked around eight hits with the help of seven strikeouts, and exited after allowing three runs in five innings. He improved his career record in the playoffs to 3-6 even though his ERA rose to 4.65.

Four Dodgers relievers combined to allow one hit over four scoreless innings, with closer Kenley Jansen earning his first five-out save since April 13.

Seager homered on the first postseason pitch he's ever seen, and Turner added a two-run shot in the third as LA built a 4-0 lead against 20-game winner Scherzer (see full recap).

Kluber, Indians shut down Red Sox
CLEVELAND -- Corey Kluber carried a shutout into the eighth inning and Lonnie Chisenhall hit a three-run homer off postseason-cursed David Price, giving the Cleveland Indians a 6-0 win on Friday over the Boston Red Sox and a 2-0 lead in their AL Division Series.

Showing no signs of a late-season leg injury, Kluber limited the AL East champions to three hits over seven innings as the Indians moved within one win of returning to the ALCS for the first time since 2007.

David Ortiz and the Red Sox are in serious trouble and have to hope they can get things turned around Sunday in Game 3 at Fenway Park or their turnaround season will be over and Big Papi's career will be done.

Chisenhall connected in the second inning off Price, who fell to 0-8 in nine playoff starts and must now face the wrath of Red Sox Nation. The left-hander lasted just 3 1/3 innings and once again crumbled with a chance to silence critics who say he can't pitch in the big game (see full recap).

Blue Jays hit 4 more HRs to take 2-0 lead
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Edwin Encarnacion capped a three-homer burst in the fifth inning off Yu Darvish and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Texas Rangers 5-3 Friday to take a 2-0 lead in the AL Division Series.

The wild-card Blue Jays now go home looking to clinch the best-of-five matchup after beating the Rangers' two ace pitchers. Game 3 is Sunday night.

A reminder, though: Last year, Toronto lost the first two games of the ALDS at home against Texas, then rallied to win the series.

Kevin Pillar, Ezequiel Carrera and Encarnacion, who ended the AL wild-card game with a three-run homer in the 11th inning Tuesday night, hit solo homers in a five-batter span in the fifth. Troy Tulowitzki's two-run drive in the second put 20-game winner J.A. Happ and the Blue Jays ahead to stay.

Texas scored twice in the eighth, including an RBI single by Carlos Gomez that hit reliever Francisco Liriano in the back of the neck. Liriano walked off the mound, and an ambulance was waiting to take him to the hospital after the game.

Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna got five outs for a save (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).