Sox bullpen rounding into form


Sox bullpen rounding into form

CHICAGO -- A week ago, the Red Sox bullpen was the laughing stock of baseball, having blown an eight-run lead and compiling an ERA over 8.00.

But very quickly, the bullpen has turned around.

On Saturday night, three Red Sox relievers -- Franklin Morales, Vicente Padilla and Alfredo Aceves -- combined to get the final six outs and lock down Jon Lester's 1-0 win over the Chicago White Sox.

The win was the sixth straight for the Sox -- evening their record at 10-10 -- and in that stretch, Red Sox relievers have allowed just one earned run over 15 23 innings for a microscopic 0.57 ERA.

"They're coming together,'' declared manager Bobby Valentine. "You play the season and build the little parts of your team and I think the bullpen is coming together nicely.''

Aceves, who loaded the bases in Minnesota Wednesday night before closing out a one-run lead, had a much easier time of it Saturday, returning the White Sox in order in the ninth on two groundouts and a strikeout.

He has five saves in seven opportunities.

"We talked to him and told him that he doesn't always have to throw it 97 mph,'' said Valentine. "Tonight, he threw some very effective fastballs at 93-94 mph and still had the 97 mph. He pitched. He got that final strikeout on a changeup.''

Morales, who allowed a single in between a popup and strikeout, is now unscored upon in his last 22 road games, dating back to June 28, 2011. That's a club record for a lefty pitcher and the longest road scoreless streak since Jonathan Papelbon stitched together 25 games from Sept. 23, 2005 through July 8, 2006.

Valentine wanted the righty-on-righty matchup, so he summoned Padilla for Paul Konerko (walk) and Alex Rios (groundout).

The rebound for the relievers doesn't surprise the team's No. 1 catcher.

"That's what we have down there,'' said Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "That's a tough bullpen. It was only a matter of time before those guys were going to get comfortable and show what they can do.''

NLCS: Cubs beat Dodgers 8-4, head home with 3-2 series lead


NLCS: Cubs beat Dodgers 8-4, head home with 3-2 series lead

LOS ANGELES - Jon Lester pitched seven sharp innings, Addison Russell hit a tiebreaking homer and the Chicago Cubs moved one win from their first World Series trip in 71 years by beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-4 on Thursday.

The Cubs grabbed a 3-2 lead in the NL Championship Series and will have two chances to wrap up that elusive pennant back home at Wrigley Field.

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