Notes: Beckett gets fourth straight no-decision


Notes: Beckett gets fourth straight no-decision

By DannyPicard

BOSTON -- @font-face font-family: "Times New Roman";p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; table.MsoNormalTable font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; div.Section1 page: Section1; Josh Beckett has allowed only six earned runs in his lastfour starts, but once again was held to a no-decision on Monday night atFenway Park.

In those last four outings Beckett has pitched 25 13 innings,including the seven shutout innings he put together in Bostons 2-1,extra-innings win over the Minnesota Twins on Monday.

Beckett said after the game his defense made him lookbetter than his stuff, but he still allowed zero runson six hits and only one walk, while striking out five in 103 pitches.

It marked the ninth scoreless outing from a Red Sox starterthis season, which is the most in the majors.

He was tremendous, said manager Terry Franconaafter the win. One walk, he really pitched well. Weve come to kind of expectthat, which is good for us. He feels good about himself. Hes throwing a lot ofstrikes with all his pitches. And has been really effective.

I felt like we played great defense, said Beckett. Theyprobably made it look that way. I kept mixing pitches in there but it was astruggle to find my curveball early. I felt like I got away with a fewmistakes. The hardest-hit balls that they hit were at guys.

Beckett, who now has an ERA of 1.99, left the game with a1-0 lead, thanks to an Adrian Gonzalez RBI single to left field in the fifth. But after an eighth inning that saw a Denard Span single, followed byan Alfredo Aceves balk and a two-out, bloop RBI single by Jason Kubel off JonathanPapelbon, Beckett was no longer able to pick up a decision.

But as long as the Red Sox eventually come out on top,Becket said no decisions really dont bother him.

We get paid to win games, and ateam win is way better than me getting a win or a loss or whatever, saidBeckett. Ill finish up 2-1 if we win the rest of my starts. Id be completelyhappy with that. I dont have an arbitration case which frequently hinge on won-loss record to win.

Picking up that win on Monday night was reliever HidekiOkajima, who hadnt seen any game action since May 4.

Okajima threw 43 pitches (27 for strikes) in two innings ofwork, and allowed only two hits while walking two and striking out three.

He had been rested for a few days, which is good, becauseweve leaned on Matt Albers and Daniel Bard a little bit, said Francona. We wanted tostay away from them. He did a good job.

Those guys down in the bullpen, theyre aware of whosavailable and whos not. You didnt see anybody warming up. He knew he had topitch.

I was just making sure that I hit the corners today, andmade sure they didnt hit a home run off me, said Okajima. I think I did agood job.

In between Beckett and Okajima, Aceves and Papelbon blewwhat would have been a 1-0 Red Sox win. They did so in the top of the eighth,when Kubel blooped a single into shallow right-center, just out of the reach ofDustin Pedroia, and scoring Span from second with two outs.

Pap did a good job, said Francona. Pap came in and madegood pitches. That ball, thats their best hitter right now, and he hit a splitthat barely got over Pedeys head. Thats not bad pitching.

Span who scored the the game-tying run got to second because of another Aceves balk, which made him the first Red Sox pitcher to balk in consecutive appearances since John Dopson did it in three straight outings in 1989.

Aceves balk on Monday night came as a result of a bizarrewind-up, which looks as though he decided to pitch from fromthe stretch mid-windup.

Francona came out to argue after the balk call, but saidits something that Aceves needs to stop doing.

First of all, umpire Angel Hernandez, who ejected Francona for arguing an Aceves balk call on Friday night invited me out, which I thought wasnice, said Francona. He invited me out. That was cool. I thought he was maybelike reeling me in to throw me out.

He actually said that Alfredo was kind of going out of thewindup, and hes probably right . . . We were trying to get Aceves attentionon the first pitch, and then when he didnt call it, we thought we were okay.

Weve got to get Aceves to quit doing that. He did it inspring training, and pitching coach Curt Young talked to him. You dont want to invite, orgive somebody a chance to call something. He doesnt need to do that . . . Whenyou do things out of the ordinary, youre kind of opening up a chance forsomebody to call something.

With a third-inning single, Jacoby Ellsbury extended hishit streak to 18 games on Monday night, a stretch in which hes batting .367.

Danny Picard is onTwitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

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.