Mortensen fails to finish in Red Sox loss


Mortensen fails to finish in Red Sox loss

BOSTON -- Once again, Clayton Mortensen had Josh Beckett's back.
Mortensen saved the day back on July 31, when he took the ball from an injured Josh Beckett and turned in 2.2 scoreless innings to pick up the win over the Detroit Tigers. Mortensen came into a one-run game with bases loaded on that day. On Wednesday afternoon against the Texas Rangers, the story was a little different.
Beckett wasn't hurt. He just wasn't any good.
Mortensen relieved Beckett of his duties on Wednesday, after the Red Sox starter allowed his third home run of the game. It was a two-run shot by Geovany Soto, and it gave the Rangers an 8-5 lead.
As he did in Beckett's last start against the Tigers, Mortensen came in and ended the inning cleanly.
"He did an unbelievable job, unbelievable," said Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "They've got a great lineup, and he gave us a chance and kept us in the game."
Mortensen -- who was called up before the game to replace the injured Vicente Padilla -- kept the Red Sox in the game. No question about it. But unlike the last time Mortensen saw action out of Boston's bullpen, he couldn't finish with a clean slate.
He went on to allow a two-out, solo home run to Nelson Cruz in the seventh, and then came the backbreaker.
With the game tied at 9-9, Mortensen walked the lead-off hitter -- Elvis Andrus -- in the top of the ninth. He then allowed a Josh Hamilton single that put runners at the corners with no outs.
That forced Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine to make the call to the bullpen, bringing in Alfredo Aceves.
But an Adrian Beltre sacrifice fly to center field scored Andrus easily from third to put Texas up 10-9. It ended up being the game-winning run.
"It's frustrating giving that pitch to Hamilton ... but I was more upset that I walked the lead-off hitter," said Mortensen after taking the loss.
Mortensen came out to start the ninth inning -- after already pitching three innings -- because of a short bullpen, according to Valentine after the loss.
"Everybody else was basically cut down today," said Valentine. "So I was going to try to squeeze, to see if we could get Clay to get Hamilton to swing at something out of the zone, which, he has those pitches, and Hamilton's an aggressive hitter. It didn't work.
"It was a very short bullpen today. And Mortensen did great job ... If Clay doesn't have what he gave us today, then it would have been a catastrophe. He did a great job."

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.