April 27, 2011: Orioles 5, Red Sox 4


April 27, 2011: Orioles 5, Red Sox 4

By Sean McAdam

BALTIMORE -- After clawing back from a four-run deficit, the Red Sox experienced a nasty meltdown in the bottom of the eighth inning Wednesday night, leading to a 5-4 defeat to the Baltimore Orioles.

Daniel Bard, the third Red Sox pitcher of the game, allowed two singles to start the inning and a passed ball by Jason Varitek put both baserunners in scoring position.

When another pitch got away from Varitek, the catcher scrambled for the errant pitch and, tossing to Bard covering, the Sox cut down Nick Markakis at the plate.

But with the infield playing in, Vladimir Guerrero lined a single up the middle, scoring Derrek Lee with the winning run.

The Sox had rallied in dramatic fashion in the top of the inning when Adrian Gonzalez singled home Jacoby Ellsbury and Kevin Youkilis followed with a three-run homer into the seats in left.

Baltimore used the long ball in the fourth to take a 3-0 lead against Josh Beckett.

With two out and Derrek Lee on second, Luke Scott drove a pitch over everything in right, with the ball landing on Eutaw St., some 423 feet from home plate.

Beckett was enraged that Scott had flipped the bat after his swing and stared down Scott as he rounded the bases.

Appearing unnerved, Beckett then gave up a solo homer to Adam Jones, who drove a 2-and-0 fastball out to left.

Player of the Game: Vladimir Guerrero

It wasn't as crushing -- or as impressive -- as his Game 3 homer in the 2009 ALDS off Jonathan Papelbon, but Guerrero's single up the middle in the eighth inning scored the game-winner for the Orioles.

With Derrek Lee at third and one out, Daniel Bard was looking for a strikeout by going inside on Guerrero. Instead, Bard left a pitch out over the middle, and Guerrero, still capable of good plate coverage, drove it into center.

Honorable Mention: Jeremy Guthrie

The Orioles starter pretty much had his way with Red Sox hitters, shutting them out
over six innings while walking just one and striking out six.

Guthrie worked out of a first-and-third, one-out jam in the first, then got some help in the fourth when Nick Markakis threw out David Ortiz trying to score from second on a single to right.

The Goat: Daniel Bard

This wasn't Bard's night. He mislocated to both Markakis and Lee, allowing back-to-back singles to start the eighth.

Then he crossed up Jason Varitek, uncorking a pitch that broke away from Varitek. He followed that up with another errant pitch, then surrendered the game-winning single to Guerrero.

Turning Point: Bard gets wild

Bard's second errant pitch of the eighth resulted in a tagout of Markakis at the plate, but moved Lee to third, representing the go-ahead run, and forced the Red Sox to move the infield in. Guerrero then lined a pitch through the middle.

By the Numbers: 2

Kevin Youkilis's three-run homer in the top of the eighth was just the second three-run shot by the Red Sox in 23 games this season.

Quote of Note:

"Is this TMZ?'' -- Josh Beckett to reporters who asked about his staredown with Luke Scott and discussion with home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth after the bottom of the fourth.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam.

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.