Phillies-Nationals observations: Hoskins goes deep as Phils hold off Nats

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Phillies-Nationals observations: Hoskins goes deep as Phils hold off Nats


WASHINGTON -- Rhys Hoskins homered again and drew three walks and Mark Leiter Jr. notched the pitching victory as the Phillies beat the Washington Nationals, 5-4, on Saturday night.

The Phillies got strong bullpen work from Edubray Ramos, Luis Garcia and Hector Neris in making a one-run lead stand up in the late innings. Neris got the final two outs with the potential tying run on second.

• Leiter Jr. allowed four runs over six innings and left with a 5-4 lead. Leiter took a two-run lead to the mound in the sixth and allowed a pair of no-out singles, prompting a visit from pitching coach Bob McClure. Leiter then retired the next two batters on fly balls to center. He then gave up an RBI single to Michael A. Taylor as the Nats pulled to within a run before retiring pinch-hitter Adam Lind for the final out.

• Reliever Ramos has pitched well — and with a lot of confidence — since coming back from the minors. He registered a pair of strikeouts in protecting a one-run lead in the seventh. His second strikeout came on a hard-biting breaking ball to the dangerous Howie Kendrick and stranded the potential tying run at second. Ramos has struck out 23 and walked just five in 16 2/3 innings since coming back from Triple A. He has the stuff to be a force late in games. Lately, he has been.

• Reliever Garcia struck out the side in the eighth, getting three tough customers in Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy and Anthony Rendon with a combination of fastballs and hard sliders. One of Garcia's fastballs registered 100 mph. Garcia has long had a great arm and tantalized Phillies officials with his potential. The team's patience with him might pay off. He has allowed just one run in his last 14 appearances and just eight in his last 39 innings.

• The Phillies got solo home runs from Hoskins and Maikel Franco in the second inning. Hoskins was on base four times with the homer and three walks. His bases-loaded walk in the fourth delivered a run. He also stole his first base as a big-leaguer. He had just 19 steals in 455 games in the minors.

• Hoskins has 14 homers in 30 big-league games. That's the most homers ever by a player who made his big-league debut after August 1.

• Franco has homered in two straight games since being held out of the starting lineup three straight games.

• Odubel Herrera had a tough night. He left seven men on base and saw his 21-game hitting streak end. That was the longest in the majors this season.

• J.P. Crawford did not start after playing the previous four games, three at third base and one at shortstop. He could get his first start at second base on Sunday. Crawford pinch-hit in the eighth inning against Joe Blanton and stuck out on a breaking ball.

• Aaron Atherr has been cleared to play. In fact, he entered as a defensive sub in left field in the ninth inning. Manager Pete Mackanin said there was a possibility Altherr would start in the outfield on Sunday afternoon, which is good news for fans who've been clamoring to see him play over Hyun Soo Kim. Altherr has not had an at-bat since August 4 when he went on the disabled list with a hamstring strain.

• Heard a couple of Eagles chants in the stands. The Birds, of course, open up down this way Sunday. (Personal note: Hope the Birds go undefeated, but it's must-see TV when Michael B. goes nuts on the postgame show after they lose.)

• Rookie Ben Lively (3-5, 3.92) pitches against Washington's Stephen Strasburg in the series finale on Sunday afternoon. Strasburg is 12-4 with a 2.78 ERA in 24 starts. Over his last three starts, he has worked 21 scoreless innings, walked just two and struck out 23. It won't be an easy assignment for the Phillies.

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).