Bailey, Tazawa hold it down for Red Sox


Bailey, Tazawa hold it down for Red Sox

BOSTON -- Not that putting runners on base is a good thing, but for Andrew Bailey, right now, it's something he's willing to deal with.

The Red Sox aren't fighting for a playoff spot. And Bailey missed most of the season due to injury. So he's just trying to get his game in order for next season.

Sunday afternoon also gave him another chance -- as the Red Sox closer -- to bounce back from Thursday's loss and blown save in Tampa Bay.

And he did just that, getting out of a ninth-inning jam, and picking up his sixth save of the season in the process.

"Every day's a new day," said Bailey after Boston's 2-1 win over the Baltimore Orioes at Fenway Park. "You've just got to go out there and get the job done. Today, I got in a little bit of a jam and fell behind hitters again. But this time, I made pitches when I needed to, and was able to get out of it."

In a 2-1 game, Mark Reynolds gave the Orioles some life in the ninth, as he dropped a one-out single into left field. Then, Jim Thome ripped a pinch-hit ground-rule double down the right-field line, putting runners at second and third with one out.

After intentionally-walking Chris Davis to load the bases, Bailey got a force out at home and then struck out Ryan Flaherty to shut the door.

"As much as you don't want to be in this situation, for me, it's about getting back into those situations and getting the job done, and looking forward to next year, and obviously finishing this year strong," said Bailey.

"You get a lot out of it. I missed a lot of the year, and you can't replicate this type of situations. So, for me, it's nice to get back in those situations. As much as you don't want to put guys on base, when the time is right, next year, when we're in the playoff hunt, these couple save opportunities or couple high-stressful outings, might play a part, down the road."

Junichi Tazawa can't be overlooked in Boston's bullpen effort either. he was the bridge from Felix Doubront to Bailey, and pitched a perfect 1-2-3 eighth inning, lowering his ERA to 1.54 and earning his first win of the season.

In Tazawa's last 12 appearances, he's pitched 11 scoreless innings and has recorded 16 strikeouts and walked only one while allowing just three hits.

"He's been near-perfect," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine after the win. "He's been as good a pitcher as I've seen in this league. He's continuing to get better. His split-finger, now, is devastating, and thrown at 90-91 miles an hour. His control is impeccable.

"He's everything you want in a pitcher."

NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945


NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton KershawAnthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.


Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.


Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.