Red Sox notes: Lackey turns in solid outing


Red Sox notes: Lackey turns in solid outing

By Sean McAdam Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It didn't begin well certainly, but by the time it was over, John Lackey turned in a pretty good start Saturday.

After giving up three runs despite no hard-hit balls against him in the first, Lackey settled down and gave up just one more runs the rest of the way before being lifted
with two outs in the sixth.

"It felt like I made some good pitches in that inning,'' said Lackey, who improved to 7-8. "I had a lot of balls on the ground and kind of ran into a little bad luck, but the guys came back swinging the bats and we ended up winning the game.''

Marco Scutaro was charged with a throwing error in the first, then couldn't come up with two other infield grounders as the Rays got out in front.

As he often does, Lackey showed his displeasure with his body language, throwing his arms up in the air when plays weren't made. But eventually, he settled down and turned back the Rays.

The win was the second straight strong outing, but Lackey wasn't willing to say this was the start of a good run for him.

"I'm not getting into predicting the future,'' he said. "(But) I feel pretty good.''

Later, when Francona came out to get him with two on and two out in the sixth, an emotional Lackey pleaded his case to no avail.

"I felt like I could have gotten (Casey Kotchman) out,'' said Lackey. "But looking back on it, we had a two-run lead. Tito probably protected me a little, so I can respect that as well.

"I couldn't do much about it. I had already had a visit (to the mound), so it's not like you can argue your way out of that one.''

Listed at the top of the Red Sox batting order, Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia aren't necessarily known for their power.

But in the last two weeks, the two are on home run binges. Ellsbury homered in the fourth, giving him four in the last seven games and a career-high 13 for the season.

Ellsbury has three homers in seven games against Tampa Bay this year.

Pedroia added a solo homer of his own in the seventh, making it 7 in his last 14 games and six in his last eight. He, too, has 13 homers, just five shy of his career high of 18, set during his MVP season.

"I've felt good for a while,'' said Pedroia. "I kind of had (one of these homer binges) at the beginning of the year than I didn't hit another for, like, 300 at-bats. When they come, I guess you've kind of just got to ride it out.

"I'm not a home run hitter by any means. When I hit them, it's nice but it's extra. I'm not trying to hit home runs at all. It might look like it, but trust me, I'm not.''

Randy Williams got word shortly before midnight Friday that he was being called up by the Red Sox, replacing Bobby Jenks on the roster.

He arrived in the Tampa area late yesterday morning, and didn't have to wait long to make his debut.

Francona called upon Williams with two on and two out in the sixth after Lackey had reached 107 with his pitch count.

Williams quickly made a contribution, getting lefty Casey Kotchman to ground out to second for the third out, ending Tampa's threat.

He then came back out for the seventh inning, too, and retired the only two hitters he faced: Evan Longoria on an infield popup and Matt Joyce with a strikeout.

"To get into that situation was outstanding,'' said Williams, "and to get through it unscathed was a great way to start here.''

"That was a big part of the game,'' said Francona. "That's why we got him here. He's going to be interesting.''

Sean McAdam can be reached at 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.