Red Sox salvage a win in Philadelphia, 5-2


Red Sox salvage a win in Philadelphia, 5-2

By Sean McAdam Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
PHILADELPHIA -- Unable to score many runs of late, the Red Sox needed a strong pitching performance to avoid a sweep by the Philadelphia Phillies.

Jon Lester gave them one.

Lester limited the Phils to just two hits over seven innings as the Red Sox defeated Philadelphia 5-2, snapping a two-game losing streak and giving them just their second win in the last eight games.

Lester, 10-4, didn't allow a hit until Chase Utley lined a single to left with one out in the fourth.

Boston belted three homers -- all with the bases empty. Jason Varitek hit in one in the sixth and Dustin Pedroia and Varitek homered back-to-back in the eighth.

The Sox also got some production from the lower half of their lineup.

In the fifth, Josh Reddick tripled and scored on Drew Sutton's single to right. Sutton took third on a hit-and-run as Marco Scutaro singled to right, then scored on Jacoby Ellsbury's single between short and second.

After a scoreless eighth from Daniel Bard, the Phils snapped the shutout bid with a two-run homer by Ryan Howard off Bobby Jenks.

Lester stopped a personal two-game losing streak with a fine effort, shutting out the Phillies over seven innings and limiting them to just two hits in winning his 10th game.

The lefty didn't allow a hit until the fourth, then retired eight in a row before allowing another baserunner to help the Red Sox snap their own two-game streak.

Varitek, moved up to fifth in the Red Sox lineup, smacked two homers -- both solo -- to account for 40 percent of the Red Sox' output.

It was Varitek's first multi-homer game since April 10, 2010.

GOAT OF THE GAME: David Herndon
Herndon came on in relief of Cole Hamels, who left after taking a comebacker off his right hand in the fourth inning.

Coming into a scoreless game, Herndon gave up two runs on five hits over two innings and was saddled with the loss.

Given that the Sox looked to be in for a long afternoon against Hamels, the line drive off the bat of Adrian Gonzalez in the fourth inning -- which eventually drove Hamels from the game -- may have been the break the Red Sox were looking for.

After being held scoreless over the first four innings, the Sox scored three runs against the next two Philadelphia relievers.

BY THE NUMBERS: The last six homers hit by the Red Sox -- three Thursday afternoon and three Saturday night in Pittsburgh -- have all come with the bases empty.

QUOTE OF NOTE: "He may be small in stature, but not in his opinion of himself.'' -- Terry Francona when asked if Dustin Pedroia was the smallest cleanup hitter in baseball.

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.