Phillies

Tonight's lineup: Phillies begin final road series with familiar lineup

Tonight's lineup: Phillies begin final road series with familiar lineup

For the first four months of the season, 100 losses appeared inevitable. Not anymore.

Despite failing to complete a four-game sweep of the MLB-best Dodgers Thursday afternoon, the Phillies begin their final road series tonight in Atlanta coming off a 7-3 homestand. At 61-92 and nine games left, 100 losses seem highly unlikely.

Since the All-Star break, the Phillies are 32-34. Since Aug. 10, when they called up first baseman Rhys Hoskins, Philadelphia is 19-23. Since Sept. 1, the Phillies are 11-9. After a long season of losing, now with young blood, the Phillies are tasting victory.

Tonight, manager Pete Mackanin is sticking with a lineup that's worked, with Hoskins batting cleanup, Nick Williams in right field and hitting third and J.P. Crawford batting eighth and playing third base.

With Freddy Galvis manning shortstop, Crawford has been seeing a lot of time at third base recently as the Phillies get a long look at Crawford in the majors.

The 22-year-old has not looked out of place either. Crawford on Thursday made four exceptional defensive plays in the Phillies' 5-4 loss to the Dodgers.

In addition to his defense, Crawford is heating up offensively too. He still has yet to hit his first career homer, but he is coming off a three-walk game Thursday. Crawford has eight walks in his last five games.

"He was advertised as someone who controls the strike zone," Mackanin said Thursday, "and he's proven that he can do that."

On Thursday, Crawford said the transition to third base has been seamless, and now that he's gotten his footing down in the big leagues, he's more comfortable in the batter's box.

Taking three of four games against the Dodgers with a team powered by young players — Hoskins, Williams, Odubel Herrera — gave Crawford hope for things to come.

"It showed me that we can compete with the best teams in the league," Crawford said Thursday. "I just can't wait for what next year has in store for us."

The Phillies will look to continue their recent success Friday night against the Braves. Ben Lively (3-6, 3.94) will make his second-to-last start of the season.
   
Lively has faced the Braves just once, his second career start on June 8. The right-hander allowed three runs on nine hits over seven innings in a 3-1 loss.
   
He's second behind RHP Aaron Nola on the Phillies with nine quality starts. His last outing on Sept. 16 against Oakland was cut short because of rain.

Here is the Phillies' full lineup:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Nick Williams, RF
4. Rhys Hoskins, 1B
5. Aaron Altherr, LF
6. Odubel Herrera, CF
7. Jorge Alfaro, C
8. J.P. Crawford, 3B
9. Ben Lively, P

And the Braves' lineup:

1. Ender Inciarte, CF
2. Ozzie Albies, 2B
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
4. Nick Markakis, RF
5. Kurt Suzuki, C
6. Johan Camargo, 3B
7. Lane Adams, LF
8. Dansby Swanson, SS
9. Sean Newcomb, P

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).