Beckett, Sox fall flat, 6-1


Beckett, Sox fall flat, 6-1

BOSTON Josh Beckett continued his first-inning struggles, giving up two runs against the Blue Jays Friday night at Fenway Park.

That was all Toronto would need on its way to a 6-1 victory.

Beckett went six innings, giving up five runs (four earned) on seven hits and three walks with seven strikeouts. His record fell to 5-8 as his ERA rose from 4.44 to 4.53.

Beckett now has an ERA of 10.69 in the first inning this season, giving up a total of 19 earned runs in his 16 starts. He has also allowed an opponents batting average of .343 (23-for-67) in the first inning.

With one out in the first Colby Rasmus tripled to right field. Rasmus scored when Edwin Encarnacion, the next batter grounded to third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who attempted to throw out Rasmus at the plate. While replays appeared to show Rasmus missed the plate and catcher Kelly Shoppach tagged him, Rasmus was called safe with the Blue Jays first run. Adam Linds double to right put runners on the corners, with Encarnacion scoring on J.P. Arencibias single to left, giving Toronto a 2-0 lead.

Yunel Escobar led off the second with a double. With two-outs Anthony Gose walked and Rasmus double scored Escobar and Gose, giving Toronto a 4-0 lead.

Toronto added a run in the fifth when Encarnacion singled off Middlebrooks glove, advancing to second on Middlebrooks throwing error. Linds single drove in Encarnacion, putting Toronto ahead, 5-0.

Left-hander Aaron Laffey earned the win, improving to 2-1, with a 2.77 ERA. He went seven scoreless innings, giving up eight hits with no walks, and four strikeouts.

The Sox had runners on in every inning except the second against Laffey, but couldnt score. Their best chance came in the third when Mike Aviles led off with a single, taking second on Jacoby Ellsbury's one-out single, and advancing to third on Carl Crawfords fly out to right. But Aviles was stranded there when Dustin Pedroia flied out to right to end the inning.

The Sox squandered another opportunity in the seventh when Middlebrooks and Shoppach led off with singles. But, Mike Aviles was called out on strikes, Pedro Ciriaco grounded into a fielders choice, and Jacoby Ellsbury popped out in foul territory to end the threat.

Andrew Miller pitched a scoreless seventh. Mark Melancon pitched 1 13 innings, giving upa run on two hits and two walks with a strikeout, before Junichi Tazawa finished the ninth.

The Sox finally got on the scoreboard in the ninth. With runners on the corners and one out against Jays closer Casey Janssen Mike Aviles fielders choice scored Middlebrooks for the Sox lone run.

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.