Phillies

Phillies' bats go quiet in loss after missed opportunity

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Phillies' bats go quiet in loss after missed opportunity

WASHINGTON — It was right there for the Phillies on Friday night at Nationals Park.

Leading the Nationals by a run with one out in the fifth inning, the Phillies looked ready to break it open with a decisive rally. For a team that had been eyeing the .500 mark for the past month, this was the chance.

Not this time. Instead of piecing together the game-breaking rally, the Phillies’ offense went to sleep after Ben Revere grounded into an inning-ending double play. After Jimmy Rollins lobbed a single into right field to load the bases with one out in the fifth, the Phillies sent 13 hitters to the plate.

Those 13 hitters made 14 outs.

Worse, the Phillies scored just a pair in the 5-2 loss to the Nats (see game recap), marking the 19th time in 48 games the team has scored two runs or fewer.

“We were right there with them until we went back out on the field there,” manager Charlie Manuel said after his team fell to 23-25. “They scored and went ahead of us. They shut us down from there. It was a good game up until that point.”

It nearly was a rout for the Phillies.

Domonic Brown and Freddy Galvis led off the inning with singles followed by a sacrifice fly from Erik Kratz to give the Phils a 2-1 lead. Pitcher Kyle Kendrick followed with a slug bunt up the middle to put runners on first and second to flip over the lineup. That’s when Rollins blooped the ball over the infield into left field for a single.

Running on contact, Galvis appeared to have a head of steam headed into third base. When he hit the bag and took a turn for home he slammed on the brakes when he saw third-base coach Ryne Sandberg with both arms up signaling for him to stop.

Maybe Galvis could have forced leftfielder Tyler Moore to make a throw to the plate to get him. Maybe he would have made it with the third run.

Either way, with the heart of the Phillies' lineup due up, Sandberg saw a big inning looming. That’s why the third-base coach threw up the stop sign.

“Yeah, that's kind of what happened,” Manuel said. “I don't know how good Freddy read that ball.”

Instead of a big inning, Revere hit Jordan Zimmermann’s 0-1 offering hard and right at second baseman Steve Lombardozzi.

Revere and the Phillies never had a chance.

“I’m trying to hit it as hard as I can and I hit it right to the second baseman,” Revere said. “It’s one of those things in the game. We’ll come back to tomorrow, try to get the series even and win Sunday.”

The Phillies grounded into a pair of double plays on Friday night and have bounced into 39 of them this season. Revere, perhaps the speediest runner on the team, has grounded into seven double plays this season. That’s the same number as he grounded into in each of the last two seasons.

The difference is Revere hit into 16 double plays in his first 991 big-league plate appearances. He hit unlucky No. 7 in just his 150th plate appearance on Friday night.

Like Revere, the Phillies were stopped cold in their tracks after that decisive fifth inning. The Nats posted four runs in the bottom half of the inning and that was more than enough.

After all, the Phillies went 13 up and 14 down the rest of the way. When a team has trouble scoring runs, it’s those little plays that make the biggest difference.

“You’re right, really. That's usually what happens,” Manuel said. “Things don't go your way. Ben hits into a double play. That's kind of the way it goes.”

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).