Red Sox notes: First inning woes not just for Beckett


Red Sox notes: First inning woes not just for Beckett

BOSTON The Blue Jays scored two first-inning runs, proving to be all they would need on their way to a 6-1 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Josh Beckett has now given up 19 earned runs in the first innings of his 16 starts for a 10.69 ERA. But, its a disturbing trend that has plagued the rotation this season.

Red Sox starters have allowed at least one run in the first inning of 16 of their last 19 games at Fenway Park since June 10, including 11 of their last 12. Overall this season, the staffs first-inning ERA is 6.70, giving up a total of 70 earned runs in the 94 games. That is nearly three runs higher than all subsequent innings combined, when they have a 3.80 ERA, giving up 318 earned runs in 752 23 innings.

Carl Crawford went 1-for-4 and has hit safely in all five games since coming off the disabled list Monday night. He is hitting .389 (7-for-18) with three stolen bases and six runs scored.

Jacoby Ellsbury went 1-for-4 and has hit safely in six of his eight games since coming off the DL July 13. Since then he is batting .343 (12-for-35) raising his season average from .192 to .279.

Adrian Gonzalez went hitless for just the second time in 25 games. He snapped his five game hitting streak since the All-Star break.

Closer Andrew Bailey, who has been on the disabled all season after surgery on his right thumb, had a bullpen session Friday afternoon, throwing about 38 pitches. He is scheduled for another bullpen session Sunday, and could pitch some batting practice Wednesday when the Red Sox are in Texas.

Left-hander Rich Hill, on the 60-day disabled list with a left elbow strain, is throwing long toss from flat ground and is pain-free. He is getting close to throwing from a mound.

Aaron Laffey has now pitched 13 scoreless innings against the Sox, including his six-inning outing June 26 at Fenway. Since 1980, he is just the second pitcher to record multiple scoreless outings of at least 6.0 innings in the same season on the road at Fenway, along with Scott Kazmir with the Rays in 2007. Laffey and Kazmir are just the second lefties to do so since the Philadelphia As Lefty Grove did so in 1931.

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.