Phillies

Phillies-Pirates: What you need to know

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Phillies-Pirates: What you need to know

Phillies (1-1) vs. Pirates (1-1) 1:35 p.m. on PHL17

Starting Pitchers
Vance Worley takes the hill for the Phillies in the first start of his sophomore season. Worley was 11-3 with 3.01 ERA in 2011, finishing third in NL Rookie of the Year voting. He struck out 8.1 batters per nine innings, the 30th best mark in baseball and fifth best among starting pitchers age 23 or younger.

Opposing the Phils is James McDonald, the Pirates right-hander who started Tuesdays spring training finale at Citizens Bank Park. In that game, McDonald made 54 pitches and allowed one run on two hits over three innings. He was traded to the Pirates from the Dodgers at the 2010 trade deadline for reliever Octavio Dotel. Last season, McDonald, 27, went 9-9 with a 4.21 ERA in 171 innings. High hit and walk totals resulted in an unsightly 1.49 WHIP.

Previous games
The Phillies won Game 1 of the series, 1-0, and the Pirates came back Saturday to win, 2-1, in 10 innings. The Phillies offense mustered just four hits after the first inning.

Head-to-head
The Pirates ended the Phillies hopes for their first ever sweep at PNC Park in Saturdays win. The Phils are 25-19 against Pittsburgh since Charlie Manuel took over in 2005, but are just 4-8 in their last 12 trips to the Steel City.

Whos hot
Nobody, besides Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. No Phillie other than Carlos Ruiz is batting higher than .286, which means no other Phillie has more than two hits.

Whos not
Both offenses. The Phillies have had a runner in scoring position with less than two outs in just five of 19 innings this season. The teams have combined for four runs in two games.

Storylines
Can the Phillies offense break out in the series finale? Last year, the Phils won their first four series of the season to jump out to a 9-3 record.

Will we continue to see such an emphasis on small ball? Jimmy Rollins sacrificed out of the three-hole in the first inning Saturday and late in the game, Laynce Nix tried to do the same.

Will Freddy Galvis pick up his first major-league hit in his first major-league series? Galvis has actually hit several balls hard -- one was a line shot to deep center field on Saturday -- but he is 0 for 8 with two strikeouts and hasnt yet reached base.

Will John Mayberry, if he starts, be more aggressive at the plate? In his first and third plate appearances Saturday, Mayberry took 90 mile per hour first-pitch fastballs right down the middle.

If Kyle Kendrick enters Sundays game, will he reduce his 100 percent line drive rate?

Sound off
Would you rather the Phillies continue to bunt to manufacture a run, or save as many outs as possible for a struggling offense?

E-mail Corey Seidman at cseidman@comcastsportsnet.com.

MLB Playoffs: Javier Baez snaps out of funk to help Cubs avoid sweep

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USA Today Images

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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USA Today Images

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).