Phillies

MLB Playoffs: Dodgers crush Cubs to reach 1st World Series in 29 years

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MLB Playoffs: Dodgers crush Cubs to reach 1st World Series in 29 years

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CHICAGO -- Enrique Hernandez put a Hollywood ending on an L.A. story three decades in the making.

Fueled by a home run trilogy from their emotional utilityman, Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers are finally going to the World Series.

Hernandez homered three times and drove in a record seven runs, Kershaw breezed through six crisp innings and Los Angeles ended the Chicago Cubs' title defense with an 11-1 rout in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series on Thursday night.

"It feels good to hear World Series," Kershaw said. "It's been a long time coming for this team."

After years of playoff heartache, there was just no stopping these Dodgers after they led the majors with 104 wins during the regular season. With Kershaw firing away at the top of a deep pitching staff and co-NLCS MVPs Justin Turner and Chris Taylor leading a tough lineup, one of baseball's most storied franchises captured its first pennant since Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda managed Kirk Gibson, Orel Hershiser and Co. to Los Angeles' last championship in 1988.

"Every night it is a different guy," Turner said, "and this is one of the most unbelievable teams I've ever been a part of."

Kershaw will be on the mound again when the Dodgers host the New York Yankees or Houston Astros in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night. The Yankees have a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6 of the ALCS at Houston on Friday night, so one more New York win would set up another chapter in an old October rivalry between the Yankees and Dodgers.

Los Angeles made the playoffs eight times in the previous 13 seasons and came up short of its 22nd pennant each time, often with Kershaw shouldering much of the blame. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner took the loss when his team was eliminated by the Cubs in Game 6 of last year's NLCS at Wrigley Field.

The ace left-hander was just OK during his first two starts in this year's postseason, but Los Angeles' offense picked him up each time. Backed by Hernandez's powerful show in Chicago, Kershaw turned in an efficient three-hit performance with five strikeouts and improved to 6-7 in the playoffs -- matching Burt Hooton's club record for postseason wins.

"To get to be on the mound tonight and get to be going to the World Series on the same night, it's a special thing," Kershaw said. "Who knows how many times I'm going to get to go to the World Series? I know more than anybody how hard it is to get there. So, I'm definitely not taking this one for granted."

When Kenley Jansen retired Willson Contreras on a liner to shortstop for the final out, the party was on . The Dodgers poured out of the dugout and mobbed their dominant closer near the mound, and a small but vocal group of Los Angeles fans gathered behind the visitors' dugout and chanted "Let's go Dodgers! Let's go Dodgers!"

On the field, manager Dave Roberts hugged Lasorda and told the iconic skipper the win was for him.

"I bleed Dodger blue just like you," Roberts said. "Thank you, Tommy."

Hernandez connected on the first two pitches he saw, belting a solo drive in the second for his first career playoff homer and then a grand slam in the third against Hector Rondon. Hernandez added a two-run shot in the ninth against Mike Montgomery.

The 26-year-old Hernandez became the fourth player with a three-homer game in a league championship series, joining Bob Robertson (1971 NLCS), George Brett (1978 ALCS) and Adam Kennedy (2002 ALCS). Hernandez's seven RBIs tied a postseason record shared by four other players who all did it in a Division Series.

Troy O'Leary was the previous player to have seven RBIs in a playoff game, for Boston at Cleveland in the 1999 ALDS.

It was a stunning display for a player with 28 career homers who remains concerned about his native Puerto Rico, which is recovering from a devastating hurricane. He delivered a historic performance in front of his father, Enrique Hernandez Sr., who was diagnosed with a blood cancer related to leukemia in December 2015, but got word last November that he was in remission.

"For me to be able to come here and do something like this is pretty special," said Hernandez, who also goes by Kik?. "My body's here, but my mind's kind of back home. It's hard being away from home with what's going on.

"All I want to do right now is go to my dad and give him a big hug."

Kris Bryant homered for Chicago, but the NL Central champions finished with just four hits in another tough night at the plate. Each of their eight runs in the NLCS came via the long ball, and they batted just .156 for the series with 53 strikeouts.

Long playoff runs in each of the last two years and a grueling five-game Division Series against Washington seemed to sap Chicago of some energy, and its pitching faltered against sweet-swinging Los Angeles. Jose Quintana was pulled in the third inning of the final game, and the Cubs never recovered.

"They executed their plan," Bryant said. "They pitched great and the bullpen was lights out. That makes for a tough time scoring runs."

Turner and Taylor helped put it away for Los Angeles, contributing to a 16-hit outburst while closing out a pair of impressive performances.

Turner singled home Taylor in the Dodgers' five-run third, giving him seven RBIs in the series and 24 throughout his postseason career. Taylor finished with two hits and scored two runs as the Dodgers, who have won five straight NL West titles, improved to 7-1 in this postseason.

Taylor's versatility helped Los Angeles cover for the loss of All-Star shortstop Corey Seager, who missed the series with a back injury, but is expected to return in the next round. Coming off a breakout season, the 27-year-old Taylor hit .316 with two homers and scored five times against the Cubs.

"I couldn't be happier to be a part of this and be with these guys," Taylor said. "It's been an unbelievable year, and I'm just super excited."

Out with a bang
Hernandez joined Kennedy (2002), Adrian Beltre (2011), Reggie Jackson (1977 vs. the Dodgers) and Babe Ruth (1928) as players to hit three home runs in a postseason series clincher.

Lights out
Dodgers relievers have thrown 23 consecutive scoreless innings, a postseason record.

After giving up 30 runs in 1 day, Phillies actually gain ground in race

After giving up 30 runs in 1 day, Phillies actually gain ground in race

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If you are going to take a 20-run beating, it’s best to do so in the first game of a doubleheader. And not one of those separate admission doubleheaders, an old-fashioned doubleheader in which the second game starts 30 minutes after the first one.

That way there’s no time to sit around and stew in the juices from the painful defeat.

Lace ‘em right back up. Get back out there and start swinging again.

That’s just what the Phillies did Thursday night. They won the second game of a doubleheader against the New York Mets, 9-6 (see first take). The win came just a few hours after the Mets pounded the Phillies, 24-4, and turned position players Roman Quinn and Scott Kingery into batting-practice pitchers (see story).

Rhys Hoskins made a costly error — one of four that the sloppy Phillies made — in the Mets’ 10-run fifth inning in the opener. But Hoskins came back in the nightcap and rescued the Phillies and Zach Eflin from an early two-run deficit with a three-run homer in the bottom of the first inning and the Phillies never trailed again.

“Rhys’ homer was huge,” said Eflin, who delivered 6 2/3 innings of four-run ball for his ninth win. “As a pitcher, you always want to pitch with the lead and he got it for us.”

Hoskins has homered in three of the last four games. He has 25 on the season.

“Rhys set the tone with that big three-run home run, getting us right back in it and I think it speaks to the character of our club,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “We’re not down for long. We can take it on the chin. We can take a punch and we always get up and come out swinging. We believe in each other and I think that was on display today.”

The victory capped a crazy day of baseball. Even after a 20-run loss in the opener, the Phillies were able to pick up ground in both the NL East and NL wild-card races. They trail Atlanta by 1½ game in the division and lead the wild card race by 1½.

“Obviously, you never want to lose like we did (in the first game) but it happens,” Hoskins said. “We get to wake up tomorrow closer than we were today — that’s a good day.”

There were no chats, meetings, speeches or reprimands in the brief time between games.

“Nothing,” Kapler said. “These guys are professionals. They know how to prepare for the next game. They know how to wash it off. You have to have a short memory. We had an ugly first game, there’s no denying that. It was one that we wanted to forget quickly and one way to do that is to come out and win the next game. That’s just what we did.”

Hoskins said there was no need to say anything between games.

“We all saw what happened,” he said. “You just flush and move on to the next one. We know what to do to get back on the horse and win a ballgame.”

Having little time to wallow in the ugly loss helped.

“Yeah,” Hoskins said. “There’s a lot less time to think about it.”

Kapler used Quinn and Kingery for three innings of relief — they combined to allow nine runs as the game deteriorated into a comedy act — in the first game because it was a blowout and he wanted to save his bullpen. He was able to use Luis Garcia, Victor Arano and Seranthony Dominguez for big outs late in the second game — not that any one of those guys would have profiled to pitch in the first-game blowout.

“You saw it,” Hoskins said. “We don’t use guys in the first game. We used position players. Even though it’s pretty ugly, especially in the seventh inning, we have a stronger chance to win the second game, especially with the bullpen we have. You trust Gabe. It’s worked. There’s not really much else to say. We don’t see any madness in his method.”

Kingery started the second game at shortstop and ignited a three-run second inning with a solo homer. That broke an 0-for-21 drought for the rookie.

“I joked with him that I wish I knew all we had to do was put him on the mound for him to hit a homer,” Hoskins said. “A little extra adrenaline. Different adrenaline. It was good to see. He’s been grinding with the rest of us. His swing is right there. For him to see results was great.”

Kingery became the first player since Rocky Colavito of the 1968 Yankees to pitch in Game 1 of a doubleheader and homer in the second game (see video).

More on the Phillies

Phillies use bats to rebound from debacle for doubleheader split with Mets

Phillies use bats to rebound from debacle for doubleheader split with Mets

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The Phillies were able to flush a horrendous performance in the opener and come back and win the second game of a doubleheader against the New York Mets on Thursday night.

Zach Eflin pitched 6 2/3 innings and Rhys Hoskins clubbed a three-run homer to lead a 9-6 victory.

The win came on the heels of an ugly 24-4 loss in the first game. The Phillies made four errors in the game and their pitchers were charged with 11 unearned runs. The Mets had 11 extra-base hits in the opener, including three homers, against five Phillies pitchers, two of which were position players.

Phillies pitching held the Mets to nine hits in the nightcap. They had 25 in the opener.

By coming back and earning a split in the doubleheader, the second-place Phils were able to pick up a half-game on first-place Atlanta in the NL East standings. The Braves' lead is 1½ games. 

Things did not get off to a promising start in the second game as Eflin allowed three straight doubles and two runs to open the game.

The right-hander got things in order after that. He rattled off five straight scoreless innings before the Mets scored twice in the seventh and manager Gabe Kapler went to his bullpen. Luis Garcia and Victor Arano were effective and Seranthony Dominguez cleaned up a little mess in the ninth to close it out with a strikeout of dangerous Jose Bautista with two men on base and the Mets down by three.

Hoskins homered in the first game but also made a costly error in the Mets’ 10-run fifth inning.

After the Mets scored twice in the first inning of the second game, Hoskins clubbed a three-run homer against Steven Matz in the bottom of the inning to put the Phils ahead. They never relinquished the lead.

Hoskins has three homers in the last four games and 25 on the season.

Scott Kingery, who limbered up with some time on the mound in the first game, started at shortstop and clubbed a solo homer in the second inning.

The Phillies had 14 hits. Wilson Ramos had his second three-hit night in as many games since joining the club. Hoskins, Kingery, Nick Williams and Cesar Hernandez all had two apiece.

Eflin is 9-4 with a 3.70 ERA in 17 starts.

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