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Fitting finale: Dodgers win title, Turner tests positive

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — No large dogpile, no champagne and a mask on nearly every face — the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrated their first World Series title since 1988 in a manner no one could have imagined prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

They started the party without Justin Turner, too, after their red-headed star received word of a positive COVID-19 test in the middle of their clinching victory.

Turner was removed from Los Angeles’ 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 6 on Tuesday night after registering Major League Baseball’s first positive test in 59 days. He wasn’t on the field initially as the Dodgers enjoyed the spoils of a title earned during a most unusual season.

He returned to the diamond about an hour after the game, hugging longtime teammate Clayton Kershaw and sitting front-and-center for a team photo next to manager Dave Roberts with his mask pulled down under his bushy beard.

“Thanks to everyone reaching out!” Turner said on Twitter. “I feel great, no symptoms at all. Just experienced every emotion you can possibly imagine. Can’t believe I couldn’t be out there to celebrate with my guys! So proud of this team & unbelievably happy for the City of LA.”

Major League Baseball insulated postseason teams in neutral-site bubbles after traveling them across the country during a shortened 60-game season. Turner was the first player since the playoffs began to be flagged for the coronavirus.

MLB received Turner’s Monday sample from the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Utah in the bottom of the second inning, when lab president Dr. Daniel Eichner called deputy commissioner Dan Halem, who was in New York, a person familiar with the call said, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because details were not released.

Eichner told Halem the result was inconclusive. MLB receives many inconclusive results, so Halem told Eichner to run Tuesday’s pregame sample from Turner. That result came back positive in the sixth inning, the person said.

Halem called Chris Young, MLB’s senior vice president of baseball operations, who was in Manfred’s box at Globe Life Field, then called Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. He notified the dugout or clubhouse, and Turner was removed from the game after the seventh inning.

“It was obviously a really unfortunate endpoint of this incredible series and definitely affected some of the joy of winning just because of what JT has meant to us,” Friedman said.

When asked about what happened after the game, Friedman said Turner wanted to take a picture with the trophy. Friedman stated several times that those around Turner had previously been in close contact and said the team would take another round of tests before determining when to leave Texas.

“Now the subsequent tests we’re going to take are really important,” Friedman said.

The 35-year-old Turner has been a staple in the Dodgers’ lineup for seven of their eight consecutive NL West titles. A late-blooming slugger who helped reshape the game by succeeding with an upper-cut swing, Turner is LA’s career leader with 12 postseason home runs, including a pair in this Series, in which he hit .364 and also played stellar defense.

“It’s gut-wrenching,” World Series MVP Corey Seager said. “If I could switch places with him right now, I would. That’s just not right.”

“We’re not excluding him from anything,” teammate Mookie Betts said.

Commissioner Rob Manfred confirmed Turner’s positive test moments after presenting the World Series trophy to Los Angeles — a jarring reminder of all that’s been different in this season where the perennially favored Dodgers finally broke through.

The end of a frustrating championship drought for LA — and perhaps just the start for Betts and the Dodgers, whose seventh World Series title was their sixth since leaving Brooklyn for the West Coast in 1958.

“I had a crazy feeling that came to fruition,” Roberts said. “It’s just a special group of players, organization, all that we’ve kind of overcome.”

Betts bolted from third for the go-ahead run on Seager’s grounder in the sixth, even with the infield playing in, then had a punctuating homer leading off the eighth.

“It was absolutely phenomenal. This team was incredible,” said Seager, also the NLCS MVP who set franchise records with his eight homers and 20 RBIs this postseason. “We were ready to go as soon as the bell was called. Once it did, we kept rolling.”

Kershaw was warming in the bullpen when Julio Urías struck out Willy Adames to end it and ran alongside teammates to celebrate in the infield, later joined by family who had been in the bubble with them in North Texas.

Players were handed face masks as they gathered, although many of their embraces came mask-free even after Turner’s positive test.

The Dodgers had played 5,014 regular-season games and were in their 114th postseason game since Orel Hershiser struck out Oakland’s Tony Phillips for the final out of the World Series in 1988, the same year Kershaw — the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner who won Games 1 and 5 of this Series — was born in nearby Dallas.

Los Angeles had come up short in the World Series twice in the previous three years. Betts was on the other side two years ago and homered in the clinching Game 5 for the Boston Red Sox, who before this season traded the 2018 AL MVP to the Dodgers. They later gave him a $365 million, 12-year deal that goes until he turns 40 in 2032.

Betts’ 3.2-second sprint home was just enough to beat the throw by first baseman Ji-Man Choi, pushing Los Angeles ahead 2-1 moments after Rays manager Kevin Cash pulled ace left-hander Blake Snell despite a dominant performance over 5 1/3 innings.

“It was kind of like a sigh of relief,” Betts said. “It was the Cy Young Snell that pitched tonight.”

Snell struck out nine — including the first time all season that Betts, Seager and Turner each struck out in their first two at-bats. But the 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner didn’t see the top three batters for the Dodgers again.

“The only motive was the lineup the Dodgers feature is as potent as any team in the league,” Cash said. “Mookie coming around for the third time through, I value that. I totally respect and understand the questions that come with it. They’re not easy decisions.”

Randy Arozarena, the powerful Tampa Bay rookie, extended his postseason record with his 10th homer in the first off rookie right-hander Tony Gonsolin, the first of seven Dodgers pitchers. The Rays never got another runner past second base as LA’s bullpen gave reliever-reliant Tampa Bay a taste of its own medicine while allowing only two hits and no walks over 7 1/3 innings.

About 2 1/2 weeks after the Lakers won the NBA title while finishing their season in the NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida, the Dodgers gave Los Angeles another championship.

The MLB season didn’t start until late July and was abbreviated for the shortest regular season since 1878. The expanded postseason, with 16 teams making it instead of 10, ended when Urías got the last two outs on called third strikes, with catcher Austin Barnes stuffing the last pitch in his back pocket. The Rays had 16 Ks and the Dodgers 11, the most combined strikeouts in a nine-inning World Series game.

Chants of “M-V-P!, M-V-P!” broke out when Betts hit his double in the sixth off reliever Nick Anderson, who allowed runs in seven consecutive relief appearances, the longest streak in MLB postseason history.

Those chants got even louder — even with the a limited crowd of 11,437 — when Betts went deep on an 0-2 pitch by hard-throwing right-hander Pete Fairbanks.

There were plenty of fans in Dodgers blue at the new $1.2 billion home of the Texas Rangers, the stadium with the retractable roof where they played 16 games over three weeks. And the roof was closed for the final one, with misty conditions and a game-time temperature of 39 degrees outside.

Los Angeles was home team for the final game of the season, like in the 2017 World Series when the Houston Astros won Game 7 at Dodger Stadium, and two years ago against the Red Sox.

“This year has been crazy, but no matter what, we’ll look back on this and we’re World Series champs. To get to say that and get to be part of that, it’s so special no matter what,” Kershaw said. “The only thing that may have made it better would be to be at Dodger Stadium.”

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11-spot: Dodgers huge 1st in 15-3 win over Braves in NLCS

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The Los Angeles Dodgers were already having a grand time before Max Muncy’s big slam capped the highest-scoring inning in a major league playoff game.

That new ballpark in his home state of Texas where the Dodgers hope to keep playing right through the World Series suddenly doesn’t seem too big anymore, and they are right back in the National League Championship Series after a 15-3 rout of the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night.

Muncy’s slam off Grant Dayton capped an 11-run first inning when Los Angeles benefitted from a game-starting replay challenge, hit three home runs and had nine consecutive batters reach base after two outs. The Dodgers set franchise postseason records for runs and home runs with five, cutting their NLCS deficit to 2 games to 1.

“It’s pretty cool. Not too many things that are cooler than that,” Muncy said. “But the biggest thing to me is our team got a W and got us back on track.”

Joc Pederson hit a three-run homer off starter Kyle Wright to start his four-hit night, and Edwin Rios went deep on next pitch. Corey Seager had a pair of RBI hits in the opening burst, then added a solo homer in the third as the Dodgers built a 15-0 lead — the first team with that many runs in the first three innings of a postseason game.

Winner Julio Urías, made his first postseason start and improved to 3-0 in these playoffs, striking out five while allowing one run and three hits over five innings. He walked the first two batters but no more.

Atlanta’s miserable start was eerily similar to the Braves’ flop in Game 5 of last year’s Division Series against St. Louis, when they gave up a 10-run first inning at home in a season-ending start by Mike Foltynewicz.

Manager Dave Roberts said Clayton Kershaw will start Game 4 for the Dodgers, two nights after the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner from Dallas was scratched because of back spasms. Bryse Wilson makes his postseason debut as the third rookie right-handed starter for Atlanta in this series in what will be his first appearance since the final day of the regular season on Sept. 27.

“We still are in a good spot with four games left,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Like I say, for the whole team, you just turn the page and get ready to go tomorrow.”

The Dodgers had left the tying run at third base in a four-run bottom of the ninth during an 8-7 loss on Tuesday night. They were the visiting team in Game 3 and sent 14 batters to the plate for seven hits, three walks and a hit batter over 32 minutes in the the 29,786th half-inning in postseason history.

“It was a carryover,” reigning NL MVP Cody Bellinger insisted.

“That was fun to be a part of,” Pederson said. “I think some of the momentum from last night, the last inning definitely carried over and got us feeling a little bit more comfortable at the plate.”

Those 15 runs over two times up came after the Braves had allowed only nine runs in their previous six games plus eight innings, a stretch that included four shutouts en route to a 7-0 postseason start.

Bellinger walked and scored in the first, led off the second with a homer and added an RBI single in the third. His long ball came right after his running, leaping catch at the center field wall to rob Ozzie Albies with two on to end the Atlanta first.

“It’s not ideal how we started the series, but we feel good about ourselves,” Bellinger said.

Wright gave up seven runs while facing only nine batters. He had had thrown six scoreless innings in the Game 3 NL Division Series clincher over Miami last Thursday.

Mookie Betts had an infield single on the first pitch of the game, though he was initially called out before a replay challenge overturned the call by umpire Dan Iassogna. Seager drove in Betts with a double on the next pitch before groundouts by Justin Turner and Muncy.

“To get that infield hit, and then the next pitch, you see two pitches and you’ve already got a run, that was quite the change,” Roberts said.

Pederson that overturn “got us going, and then from there you saw what happened.”

Nine consecutive batters reached with two outs. Will Smith had an RBI double to make it 2-0, when he just beat a throw to the bag to avoid being the third out before Bellinger’s walk and the homers by Pederson and Rios. After No. 9 batter Chris Taylor drew a free pass, Dayton walked Betts, gave up the the RBI single to Seager and hit Turner on the foot before Muncy’s 435-foot slam to right-center.

“I just realized that we got all those runs with two outs. Just really good at-bats,” Roberts said. “We hit some homers, took some walks. Just really a well-played inning. I do think last night’s ninth bled over into tonight.”

When Braves No. 9 hitter Cristian Pache finally got to bat leading off the third, the rookie hit his first big league homer — in the regular season or playoffs. All but one Dodgers starter had already batted three times.

Ozzie Albies, who homered in the ninth inning in each of the first two games for Atlanta, this time had to settle in the final frame for a double and scoring the final run on Joahan Camargo’s two-out single.

“At the end of the day it only counts as one game, right? Everybody in the clubhouse knows that,” shortstop Dansby Swanson said. “Tomorrow we’ll come back and put our best foot forward. … There are things to build on.”

JANSEN IN RELIEF

Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers’ primary closer since 2012 and career leader with 312 saves, pitched a 1-2-3 sixth. It was a week after he needed 30 pitches to get two outs and gave up two runs without being able to finish the 6-5 victory in Game 2 of the NLDS against the Padres.

Roberts, who bypassed Jansen when he went to the bullpen to start the ninth in a 1-1 tie in Game 1 of this series, has avoided being specific about the closer’s role. The 33-year-old Jansen’s velocity had been noticeably down and his control inconsistent.

Jansen threw seven of his 10 pitches for strikes, all but one of them between 88-92 mph. He was averaging 93-94 mph earlier this season.

“Kenley’s still our guy,” Seager said. “You trust him to go out there and get outs. We expect nothing different.”

STREAKING SEAGER

Including his final two at-bats in Game 2 and his first three in Game 3, Seager had a span of producing an RBI in five consecutive plate appearances. That ties Carlos Beltran with the 2004 Houston Astros for the longest such streak in postseason history.

DOUBLE 7s

Wright and Dayton were the second set of teammates to both allow at least seven runs in a postseason game after Cleveland starter Bartolo Colon (seven runs) and Steve Reed (eight runs) in a 23-7 loss to the Boston Red Sox in Game 4 of the 1999 AL Division Series.

DEEP IN TEXAS

The Dodgers, who led the majors with 118 homers in the pandemic-shortened 60-game regular season, had only one homer in their three-game NL Division Series sweep of the Padres last week at the Texas Rangers’ new $1.2 billion ballpark with the retractable roof also open. They have eight through three games of the NLCS, where the World Series will be played.

LOT OF BIG NUMBERS

The 15 runs matched the most in an NLCS game — the Braves beat the St. Louis Cardinals 15-0 in Game 7 of the 1996 NLCS. … Only the Chicago Cubs, with six in Game 3 of the 2015 NLDS, hit more homers in any postseason game. … The Dodgers’ eight extra-base hits matched the franchise record for a postseason game, and their 18 total bases in the first were an MLB record for an inning. … Only three other teams have had five different players homer in a playoff game. … Atlanta was the only team in the majors with an 11-run inning during the regular season.

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Springer, Altuve homer to keep Astros alive in ALCS

SAN DIEGO (AP) — José Altuve and the Houston Astros are eager to match the 2004 Boston Red Sox in the history books.

Beating the Tampa Bay Rays three more times to reach the World Series won’t be easy, but the Astros believe they can do it.

George Springer broke a tie with a two-run homer, Altuve also went deep and hit an RBI double, and Zack Greinke escaped a bases-loaded jam as Houston stayed alive in the AL Championship Series with a 4-3 victory Wednesday night in Game 4.

“We are very motivated,” Altuve said. “We know the team we have and yes, we want to be the second team coming back from 0-3.”

Big league clubs leading 3-0 in a best-of-seven postseason series are 37-1. The only one to rally from an 0-3 deficit was the 2004 Red Sox, who beat the New York Yankees in the ALCS and went on to win their first World Series in 86 seasons.

Greinke pitched six effective innings for the Astros, who held a meeting before the game. Houston manager Dusty Baker said he had no idea what was brought up, but he also addressed the team.

“We’ve got some real leaders on this team, some dominant personalities who listen more than they talk,” Baker said.

With Altuve atoning for his poor defense in this series, the Astros finally got their offense going after being pushed to the brink of a sweep. Seeking their third pennant in four seasons, they trail 3-1 going into Game 5 on Thursday afternoon.

“I’m just happy that we won the game and we’re on to tomorrow,” Springer said.

The Rays remain one win from advancing to the World Series for the second time in franchise history.

“The team feels good,” rookie slugger Randy Arozarena said. “We’re going to stay positive. We came in here knowing we were going to face a solid team. They’re probably feeling the same way.”

Greinke, bothered by a sore arm in the Division Series against Oakland, made only one big mistake when he allowed a two-run homer to Arozarena that tied the game at 2 in the fourth.

Given a 4-2 lead by Springer’s homer in the fifth, Greinke’s biggest pitch came when he struck out Mike Brosseau on a 3-2 changeup to end the sixth with the bases loaded.

After Greinke allowed consecutive singles by Manuel Margot and Austin Meadows with one out, Baker came out for a chat and decided to let the veteran right-hander continue. Arozarena struck out on a check-swing and Ji-Man Choi singled to load the bases before Greinke fanned Brosseau.

On Friday night, Brosseau hit a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning off Aroldis Chapman of the New York Yankees that carried the Rays to a 2-1 victory in the Game 5 clincher of the ALDS.

Baker said he thought about putting in Ryan Pressly, but catcher Martin Maldonado said, “He can get this guy.”

“I guess I don’t change my mind, but I hadn’t had my mind really, really made up until I got out there and I saw the look in Zack’s eyes and Maldy was adamant about he can get this guy,” Baker said. “I said, ‘OK then you’ve got it then. This is the ballgame here.’”

Greinke said the meeting was “very intense,” and praised the 71-year-old Baker. “He reads people really good. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him make a wrong decision when he trusts what he sees. He sees the right thing almost 100% of the time. And not everyone has that skill.”

Greinke held the Rays to two runs and five hits for his first postseason win since 2015. He struck out seven and walked one.

Tampa Bay’s Willy Adames hit an RBI double off the bottom of the left-center wall and advanced to third on a wild pitch in the ninth before Pressly got rookie Yoshi Tsutsugo on a liner to right for the save.

“We’ve got to get the bats going, no doubt about it,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We’ve been carried here by our pitching and defense, which is how we’re built, but we sure would like to get some (hits).”

Rays towering right-hander Tyler Glasnow also went six innings, allowing four runs and eight hits while striking out five and walking two.

Altuve hit a homer in the first and an RBI double in the third for a 2-0 lead. And when he needed to make an accurate throw to second for a key forceout in the ninth, the star second baseman was right on target.

His offense helped make up for his three errors that helped the Rays win Games 2 and 3 to move to the cusp of their first World Series since 2008.

Altuve homered for the second straight game and third time this series, all in the first inning. He and Springer are tied for the most homers in Astros postseason history, 18.

With two outs in the third, Altuve doubled into the right-field corner to bring in Maldonado.

“One of the most impressive things about José is how he can clear his head and contribute in all aspects of his game, and to see him go out there and still wanting the ball hit to him and still swinging the bat is a testament to him,” Springer said.

Watching Altuve’s errors was “tough,” Springer said. “But I know who he is. I know the head he has on his shoulders. He’s our leader and he always has been.”

Arozarena homered onto the lower balcony on the Western Metal Supply Co. brick warehouse in the left-field corner with one out in the fourth to tie the game at 2. An inning later, Springer one-upped him when he hit a two-run shot onto the upper balcony of Petco Park’s main landmark to regain the lead for the Astros.

“I knew it was a homer. I was able to hit a high fastball there. It’s a tight line, so I’m happy that it stayed fair,” Springer said.

It was the third home run of the postseason for Springer, the MVP of the 2017 World Series.

It was the fifth of these playoffs for Arozarena, who homered in each of the first three games against the Yankees and then connected in the ALCS opener.

THE VILLAINS

The Astros remain villains in many people’s eyes for their sign-stealing scandal three years ago. On Wednesday night, someone with a megaphone on a balcony on a nearby building heckled members of the 2017 team by name: “Carlos Correa. You are a cheater. Shame on you. Josh Reddick. You are a cheater. Shame on you,” and so on.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rays: Gold Glove CF Kevin Kiermaier was out of the lineup with a bruised left hand after being hit with a pitch in Tampa Bay’s five-run sixth inning Tuesday night. Cash said Kiermaier would be available to hit if necessary.

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Anderson sharp, Markakis alert, Braves blank Miami, lead 2-0

HOUSTON (AP) — Rookie Ian Anderson pitched like an October veteran. Old pro Nick Markakis threw the best strike of the game. And just like that, the Atlanta Braves are on the verge of something they haven’t done since the days of Chipper, the Big Three and Bobby Cox.

Anderson blanked Miami into the sixth inning, Markakis made a nifty play in right field to help preserve the lead late, and the Braves threw another playoff shutout in a 2-0 victory Wednesday for a 2-0 lead in the NL Division Series.

The Braves have pitched three shutouts in four games during this year’s playoffs. They’re just the third team in MLB history to toss three shutouts in the first four games of a postseason, joining the 1966 Baltimore Orioles and the 1905 New York Giants.

Travis d’Arnaud and Dansby Swanson each homered for the second straight day, putting the Braves one win away from a sweep in the best-of-five matchup. Game 3 is Thursday in Houston.

“It’s hard to bunch hits together, pitching is too good,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Power, I think is something that plays in the postseason and was witnessed today.”

Atlanta hasn’t reached the NL Championship Series since 2001 when Chipper Jones, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz played under Cox.

The Braves have lost in the division series eight times since then, including in the last two seasons — a fact star slugger Freddie Freeman said put a chip on their shoulders entering this round.

Anderson scattered three hits and struck out eight over 5 2/3 innings. The lanky right-hander who made his major league debut in late August added to his impressive outing last week in the wild-card series when he fanned nine in six scoreless frames against Cincinnati.

“It doesn’t seem like the moment ever matters to him,” Snitker said. “He just keeps pitching and trusting his stuff.”

Added d’Arnaud, his catcher: “He’s just always been like that. It’s something that should be noticed and put out there.”

Despite his calm demeanor, the 22-year-old Anderson admitted to some early-game jitters.

“I definitely had more nerves today,” he said. “I don’t know if was the different site and seeing all the playoff stuff around the stadium or what … but I was able to calm down and get in the groove of the game.”

The 36-year-old Markakis contributed after Anderson departed.

Corey Dickerson reached on an error by Swanson at shortstop to start the eighth, setting up Markakis’ heads-up play.

Jon Berti followed by slicing a high fly down the line that Markakis alertly plucked on one hop and, with Dickerson holding up to see if the ball would be caught, threw to Swanson for a forceout at second base in a close play.

“He’s a veteran outfielder and he’s one of the best in the business at what he does,” Swanson said. “And he really made a perfect play.”

Miami manager Don Mattingly didn’t fault Dickerson for being thrown out because he said Markakis could’ve dived to catch it.

“Corey’s in a tough spot there, and that ball just kind of bounced right up to (Markakis),” he said. “That’s just a tough read in a tough situation.”

Will Smith retired the next two batters and Mark Melancon, Atlanta’s fifth pitcher of the game, closed the combined three-hitter for a save.

On a day when Atlanta got only four hits, Swanson and d’Arnaud provided the offense. Both players hit solo shots a day after the two hit multi-run homers in a huge seventh inning for the Braves in their Game 1 win.

Players from both teams behaved themselves a day after tempers flared in the opener when Braves star Ronald Acuña Jr. was nailed by a 98 mph fastball. Acuña had a quiet afternoon, going 0 for 4 and striking out all four times.

Swanson’s homer off Pablo Lopez put the Braves up 1-0 with two outs in the second inning.

There was one out in the fourth when d’Arnaud launched his soaring home run to left field, where it bounced off a metal sign high on the wall making a loud bang. Cameras panned to Anderson in the dugout, and the pitcher smiled broadly as he watched the ball sail away.

D’Arnaud’s homer made him the first catcher for the Braves to hit multiple home runs in one postseason since Brian McCann also had two in 2005. He’s made quite a comeback this season after bouncing around between three teams in a tough 2019.

The Marlins, who made the playoffs for the first time since 2003, bounded their way into this round with high energy and plenty of smiles. They had little reason to grin on Wednesday when they couldn’t scratch a single run across, going 0-4 with runners in scoring position.

It’s put them cusp of losing the first playoff series in franchise history after entering this round 7-0 all-time in the postseason.

They had a chance to cut into the lead in the sixth inning when Berti singled with one out before Darren O’Day took over for Anderson with two outs and plunked Brian Anderson. The veteran reliever than walked Garrett Cooper to load the bases, but the Marlins came away empty when Matt Joyce grounded out to end the inning.

Lopez didn’t pitch badly, allowing just three hits in and striking out seven in five innings. But he was done in by the home runs in his postseason debut after not pitching since Sept. 24.

“Pablo was really good,” Mattingly said. “With a lot of guys, and these guys have a lot of good hitters, you miss your spots and sometimes you can get away with it, and sometimes you don’t.”

UP NEXT

Atlanta’s Kyle Wright will make his postseason debut when he starts in Game 3 against rookie Sixto Sanchez. Wright hasn’t pitched since Sept. 25 when he allowed two runs in a career-high 6 2/3 innings against the Red Sox. Sanchez started Game 2 of the wild-card round, striking out six in five scoreless innings.

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Bellinger robs Padres as Dodgers hold on for 2-0 NLDS lead

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Cody Bellinger would take the homer-robbing catch over the home run he hit if he had to pick from the two. The Los Angeles Dodgers needed both from their MVP center fielder.

Bellinger nearly went to a knee to hit his long home run, and later made a spectacular, leaping catch at the center-field wall to take away a go-ahead shot from Fernando Tatis Jr. as the Dodgers barely held off the San Diego Padres 6-5 Wednesday night.

Los Angeles took a 2-0 lead in the NL Division Series when Joe Kelly finally got the last out with the bases loaded in a tension-filled ninth inning.

“It’s going to take a while to wind down from that one,” said Bellinger, the 2019 NL MVP. “That’s postseason baseball right there.”

Kelly retired Eric Hosmer on a routine grounder to earn the save after Dodgers All-Star closer Kenley Jansen wobbled in the ninth. Los Angeles can sweep the best-of-five set from its NL West rival Thursday night.

The Padres were down one with a runner on and two outs in the seventh when Tatis, the 21-year-old budding superstar, hit a towering drive to center. Bellinger ran nearly 100 feet while watching the ball, then jumped and extended his gloved right hand above the 8-foot wall to make the grab.

“I just kind of turned around as fast as I could, got to the fence and saw that it was probable, so I decided to try to time up the jump, and it’s how it worked out,” Bellinger said. “I didn’t know if it was a homer or not, but I knew I caught it.”

Brusdar Graterol, the second Dodgers reliever after starter Clayton Kershaw, slung his glove and cap away and thrust both arms into the air to celebrate. Graterol also appeared to wave goodbye and blow a kiss at Padres star Manny Machado, who shouted curses back from afar in a heated verbal exchange that included other Dodgers as well.

Bellinger said it was only the second homer he has robbed in his career — the first in the playoffs.

“Certainly turned out being the difference in the game,” Padres rookie manager Jayce Tingler said. “Tatis squared it up pretty good. For him to go up and rob one there, there’s not much to say.”

Game 3 is Thursday night, and the Dodgers can advance to the NL Championship Series for the fourth time in five seasons. They went to the World Series in 2017 and 2018 before losing in a five-game Division Series to the Washington Nationals last October.

Corey Seager put the NL West champions ahead to stay with his two-run double in the third and scored on the first of Max Muncy’s two RBI singles in the game. Leading off the next inning, Bellinger went after a low pitch and drove it 433 feet to center to make it 4-1.

Kershaw followed up his gem in the clinching game of the first round against Milwaukee with six strikeouts and no walks over six solid innings to get the win. The lefty allowed three runs, including back-to-back solo homers by Machado and Hosmer in the sixth, in his first start near his Texas home in a 13-season career.

After issuing full-count walks with two outs to Tatis and Machado that loaded the bases, Kelly retired Hosmer on a groundout for his first save this postseason. Jansen had allowed two runs in the ninth, on a pinch-hit RBI double by Mitch Moreland before he scored on Trent Grisham’s single.

“Never a doubt — we had it in our hands. That’s how Joe Kelly rolls. Joe likes to make it interesting for us,” Kershaw said.

Zach Davies allowed four runs over five innings, the longest outing by a Padres pitcher in their five games this postseason. The right-hander struck out three without a walk but took the loss.

That came after Mike Clevinger was removed from the Padres’ active roster, meaning he is out until at least the World Series — if San Diego can recover to make it that far, and his elbow feels better.

Three-time NL Cy Young Award winner Kershaw grew up, went to high school and still lives about 25 miles from the Texas Rangers’ new stadium. The Dodgers have played four regular-season series in Arlington since his big league debut in 2008, but none of those matched up with his turn in the rotation.

Kershaw could pitch there more this October, since the NL Championship and World Series will also be played in the $1.2 billion ballpark with a retractable roof that has been open for the NLDS.

In Game 2 of the best-of-three series against Milwaukee last Thursday, Kershaw struck out 13 over eight scoreless innings. Kershaw has a 2.43 career ERA in the regular season, but entered these playoffs after the abbreviated 60-game regular season with a 4.43 ERA in the postseason.

The Padres took a 1-0 lead in the second when Tommy Pham blooped a single just over the infield, and scored when Wil Myers lined a double into the right-center gap.

Seager’s go-ahead double landed just fair down the right-field line, then ricocheted off the screen fronting the field-level club where Dodgers family members sat. The ball shot sideways away from right fielder Myers, allowing catcher Austin Barnes to score from first.

When the Dodgers went to bat after Bellinger’s catch, Justin Turner had a sacrifice fly and Muncy his second RBI single to make it 6-3.

NOT AS HARD

Jansen was averaging 93-94 mph earlier this season, but rarely got above 90 mph on his 30 pitches (seven fastballs and 23 cutters) in this one. There were 11 pitches of at least 90 mph, only three of them above 92 mph.

Asked about Jansen’s role in the ninth inning going forward, manager Dave Roberts said he’s going to keep thinking about it.

“I thought there were some good throws in there. There was a dropped third strike with Grisham and he ended up getting a base hit,” Roberts said. “I’m going to think through it. It was just a lot for (Jansen), 30 pitches to get two outs. I know that he’s disappointed as well. I’ll keep thinking through it.”

HOMER NOTES

The Padres became the first team in 20 games this postseason to lose when outhomering their opponent. … Kershaw became the first pitcher to allow back-to-back home runs three times in a postseason career, according to Elias Sports.

UP NEXT

The Padres plan to start lefty Adrian Morejon in Game 3. Roberts said he wouldn’t announce a starter until Thursday.

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Rays hit 4 homers, Glasnow fans 10 in 7-5 win against Yanks

SAN DIEGO (AP) — With their pitching staff providing a record 18 strikeouts, the Tampa Bay Rays showed some pop of their own against the New York Yankees.

Randy Arozarena, Mike Zunino, Manuel Margot and Austin Meadows homered, and Tyler Glasnow struck out 10 to set a postseason record for the Rays, who beat the Yankees 7-5 Tuesday night to even their AL Division Series at one game apiece.

The Rays had enough power to overcome a huge game by Giancarlo Stanton, who had two home runs and four RBIs. His impressive power display included a 458-foot, three-run homer that landed under the giant video board in left field at Petco Park. It was reminiscent of the mammoth shots he hit in winning the Home Run Derby here in 2016.

Stanton has three homers this series and five in four postseason games. His grand slam in the ninth inning Monday night was the Bronx Bombers’ fourth homer in the 9-3 Game 1 win. The Yankees have 13 homers in five games.

Each team has hit six home runs in two games at the downtown ballpark, where the outfield once had the reputation as a place where fly balls went to die. The fences were moved in before the 2013 season.

“We had each other’s back,” Meadows said. “If a guy’s having a tough game, I feel like the next guy up really picks him up. For us, to continue to try to hit the ball hard, especially in big situations, our offense is pretty deadly when we can do that.”

Manager Kevin Cash was relieved with his team’s power display. Teams improved to 16-0 in the postseason when outhomering opponents.

“Randy, it’s unbelievable what he’s doing right now,” Cash said. “Z came up with just a big homer for us. Meadows, it’s good to see him get going; Manny just separated the game right there was good. Unfortunately we didn’t get that shutdown inning we were looking for. We needed every bit of them.”

Four Rays pitchers struck out 18, an MLB postseason record for a nine-inning game and a postseason record for Yankees batters.

“It’s a credit to our stuff,” Cash said. “And that’s saying something for that group over there because they’re selective and that’s a very talented, very deep offense. But it does speak volumes to the amount of stuff on a given night we can feature.”

DJ LeMahieu had hit an RBI single with two outs. in the ninth, and Pete Fairbanks retired Aaron Judge on a grounder with runners on the corners to end the game.

Game 3 in the best-of-five series is Wednesday night. The Rays, who won the AL East at 40-20 and are the top seed, were the home team for the first two games while the Yankees will be the home team for the next two games.

Stanton became the first Yankees player to homer in four straight games in the same postseason when he lined a shot into the home run porch in right field off Glasnow leading off the second. Stanton, who’s from Los Angeles, joined Reggie Jackson and Lou Gehrig as the only Yankees to homer in four straight postseason games overall.

“That was a good swing,” Stanton said of his long homer. “I was just glad to put the barrel on it. I didn’t really care how far it was going. I knew it was out. That’s all I cared about. You kind of black out sometimes on those.”

But the Rays have pop, too. Arozarena homered for the second time this series, with two outs in the first against rookie Deivi García, who at 21 years, 140 days, became the youngest Yankees pitcher to make a postseason start. Arozarena’s opposite-field shot landed in the home run deck in right.

García served as an opener for J.A. Happ, who surrendered Zunino’s two-run shot off the façade of the second deck in left with two outs in the second for a 2-1 lead. Happ also gave up Manuel Margot’s two-run homer to straightaway center with one out in the third that made it 5-1.

Margot played for the San Diego Padres for four seasons before being traded to the Rays for reliever Emilio Pagán

Happ, who had not pitched since Sept. 25, said he preferred to be used as a starter.

“They explained to me that it was going to be a short outing,” García said. “I didn’t know exactly how many pitches, how many innings, anything like that, (but) I just went about it like a regular outing. Preparation was the same and routine was the same.

“I feel really good and healthy, but I don’t know. We’ve got to see, but ideally I could be ready to pitch tomorrow or Thursday.”

The lead was just enough to survive Stanton’s three-run shot.

Glasnow walked Aaron Hicks to open the sixth and Diego Castillo came on and struck out 2020 home run leader Luke Voit and Stanton on three pitches each before retiring Gio Urshela on a fly ball.

Glasnow allowed three hits and four runs in five-plus innings, while walking three. His 10 strikeouts surpass the previous Rays postseason record of nine, done three times. The most recent was by Blake Snell in Game 1 of the wild-card series against Toronto.

It was the Rays’ 10th straight win when Glasnow pitches. He won his fifth straight start and seventh consecutive decision.

Nick Anderson, the Rays’ third pitcher, came on with two runners on and no outs in the seventh and struck out Gary Sánchez, LeMahieu and Judge. Anderson then pitched a perfect eighth.

Tampa Bay added on with Kevin Kiermaier’s RBI single in the fifth and Meadow’s solo homer to leading off the sixth, both off Jonathan Loaisaga.

UP NEXT

Rays: RHP Charlie Morton (0-0, 0.00 ERA) is scheduled to make his 2020 postseason debut Wednesday night for Tampa Bay, He is 4-2 with a 3.83 ERA in 10 starts against the Yankees, including 0-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two starts this season. He started against New York in Games 3 and 7 of the 2017 ALCS, going five scoreless in the deciding game to send the Astros to the World Series.

Yankees: RHP Masahiro Tanaka is scheduled to go for New York. It’ll be his 10th postseason start and second of 2020. With García going just an inning, that means LHP Jordan Montgomery would appear likely to go in Game 4 and if needed, ace Gerrit Cole in Game 5, which would be his first ever start on short rest.

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Correa, Springer rally Astros past A’s 10-5 in ALDS opener

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A home run derby broke out during a hot, dry day at Dodger Stadium, and suddenly the Houston Astros have their swing and swagger back.

Carlos Correa homered twice and drove in four, Jose Altuve hit a go-ahead, two-run single during Houston’s four-run sixth inning and the Astros rallied to beat the Oakland Athletics 10-5 in the opener of their AL Division Series on Monday.

“I love October baseball,” Correa said. “The energy is just different. I know there’s no fans this year, but the energy to know you win or go home is what drives me.”

George Springer, MVP of the 2017 World Series, had four hits for Houston, which trailed 3-0 and 5-3.

“To get down early and not quit and fight hard and come out with a win in the first game is obviously huge,” Springer said.

The Astros rallied with two outs in the sixth against Oakland’s vaunted bullpen to take control of Major League Baseball’s first neutral-site postseason game resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. Houston pounded out 16 hits in all as the A’s ran through eight pitchers.

“As the game got deeper,” Springer said, “the at-bats got better.”

The teams combined for six home runs in daytime conditions that were ripe for the ball to carry at the stadium where the Dodgers hit a major league-leading 118 homers. The temperature was 91 degrees at game time under sunny skies and with little breeze, although tricky shadows crept toward the mound during the final innings. The entire best-of-five series will be played during the day. At night, the air is cooler and often thicker, an environment less favorable to hitters.

“I’ve never seen the ball carry like that here,” said Astros manager Dusty Baker, an All-Star player for the Dodgers in the 1980s.

Houston’s hitters hadn’t looked quite the same this year, the first since their sign-stealing scheme was unveiled. Altuve, Correa and others slumped during the regular season, and the team hit a combined .194 during a two-game sweep of Minnesota in the wild-card round.

“You can’t judge this offense by 60 games,” Correa said. “When you get the leadoff guy (Springer) getting on base every single time, good things are going to happen. When he goes, we go as a team.”

The Astros’ strut emerged at the same ballpark where they beat the Dodgers to win the 2017 World Series in seven games, helped by their sign-stealing scandal that rocked baseball and drew the ire of rival players and fans.

“The way people want to perceive us is fine,” starter Lance McCullers Jr. said. “People are allowed to feel any way about the Houston Astros.”

After two quick outs in the sixth, Houston’s Josh Reddick reached when shortstop Marcus Semien booted a grounder for a costly error that allowed the Astros to extend the inning.

“They played the later innings better than we did,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “We just didn’t have the at-bats that we typically do at the end of the game.”

Martin Maldonado followed with a single. Springer doubled to shallow left for his 25th career postseason extra-base hit in the leadoff spot, moving past Derek Jeter for most ever, according to Stats Perform. The ball zinged down the third-base line past a diving Chad Pinder, pulling Houston to 5-4.

Altuve’s line-drive single to left scored Maldonado and Springer to put the Astros back in front, 6-5. Altuve moved up on the throw home and scored on Michael Brantley’s single to right.

Correa’s second home run — a blast to center in the seventh — had Ramon Laureano climbing the wall in pursuit. His spikes dug a hole in the wall covering as the Astros led 8-5. Correa cupped his ear with his hand as he rounded the bases, a taunt aimed at those who have criticized Houston for its cheating system.

“When Carlos Correa is right there’s nobody better,” McCullers said. “He’s been coming up huge for us.”

Houston added two runs in the ninth on Correa’s RBI single and Yuli Gurriel’s sacrifice fly.

Blake Taylor got the victory with one inning of relief. J.B. Wendelken took the loss, allowing four runs and three hits in two-thirds of an inning.

Oakland led 5-3 in the fifth on Mark Canha’s sacrifice fly to right that scored Semien. He singled and took second when third baseman Alex Bregman barehanded the ball and threw it past first for an error.

Matt Olson homered leading off the fourth, putting Oakland back in front 4-3. His shot to center was his first-ever hit off McCullers.

Chris Bassitt put the potential tying and go-ahead runs on in the fifth with back-to-back singles by Springer and Altuve. But he gave way to Yusmeiro Petit, who retired the next three batters to escape the jam.

Bassitt was cruising along until the Astros jumped on him for three straight hits in the fourth. Bregman homered leading off, Kyle Tucker followed with a single and scored on Correa’s homer to center that tied the game, 3-3. Bassitt hadn’t given up three runs since August.

McCullers got out of any further damage by retiring the next three batters.

“Those were real big,” Baker said. “He left them out there or they would have been off to the races.”

The A’s took a 3-0 lead with homers by designated hitter Khris Davis, who had a two-run blast in the second, and Sean Murphy’s solo shot in the third. Olson walked to set up Davis, who went opposite-field on the first pitch from McCullers.

STILL SKIDDING

The A’s extended their losing streak in Game 1 of the postseason to eight.

“We’re not panicking,” Bassitt said. “Win tomorrow and don’t worry about the extra crap.”

ON THIS DAY

Bregman has homered on Oct. 5 for four straight years.

UP NEXT

Astros: LHP Framber Valdez got a victory in the AL wild-card series against Minnesota.

Athletics: LHP Sean Manaea makes his second career postseason start after losing the AL wild card game last year when chosen to start over 15-game winner Mike Fiers, who had pitched his second career no-hitter in 2019. Manaea returned later than he had hoped following surgery in September 2018 to go 4-0 with 1.21 ERA in five starts over September last season.

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Astros out to ‘silence the haters’ in ALDS against Athletics

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Josh Reddick and the rest of the Houston Astros heard the “cheaters” chants and banging on garbage cans as the team’s buses pulled into Dodger Stadium for a series last month.

They were greeted by Dodgers fans still angry that the Astros illicitly stole signs during the 2017 World Series, when Houston won in seven games and celebrated on the Dodgers’ field.

“I was kind of disappointed there wasn’t enough out there,” Reddick said. “I know I’m stirring that pot.”

And, with the Astros in town for an AL Division Series against Oakland starting Monday, the Houston outfielder agitated things again.

“All the Dodgers fans that probably still hold that grudge are going to be out here voicing their opinion,” Reddick said. “It’s all about silencing the haters, that’s what all this year was about. The trash talk seems to be a little bit more running, and I love it.”

Just like the shortened 60-game regular season, no fans will be inside Dodger Stadium for the best-of-five ALDS. The coronavirus pandemic largely has protected the Astros from having public scorn heaped on them this season.

Mike Fiers rocked baseball when he revealed his old team’s scheme to The Athletic last year, saying the Astros used a camera in center field to steal signs and then banged on a trash can to let their hitters know which pitch the opposing catcher had signaled.

In a potentially awkward situation, Fiers could face the Astros if he takes the mound for Oakland. He hasn’t been particularly effective this season, and didn’t start against them when the A’s took seven of 10 games from the Astros this season.

“We never did anything in our rotation to make him miss the Astros,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.

Fiers started the deciding Game 3 of the wild card series against Minnesota, but lasted just 1 2/3 innings.

If Fiers is the opposing pitcher, Reddick says, it’s about the game.

“Whoever is out there, you try to treat it the same and don’t let your emotions get the best of you,” he said. “The best way we can control our emotions is going out there and beating him and beating that team as well.”

GAME 1 STARTERS

Right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. will start Game 1 for the Astros against Oakland right-hander Chris Bassitt.

McCullers had a 2.18 ERA in his final eight starts of the regular season. Bassitt was even better, going 3-0 in last final four starts with a 0.34 ERA and 25 strikeouts.

“Pressure doesn’t really get to me when it comes to the game and atmosphere,” Bassitt said. “I know how good our defense is behind me and how good our hitters are, so it’s kind of easy to relax.”

Although the Astros’ lineup isn’t the powerhouse it’s been in recent years, they are a battle-tested team in the playoffs. The A’s beat the White Sox in three games in the wild card to advance in a postseason series for the first time since reaching the 2006 ALCS.

McCullers gives the edge to the Astros, who beat the Twins in the wild card round.

“We went into Minnesota, they were one of the better AL teams at home this season. We haven’t played so well on the road,” he said. “We just had to find a way to win two games. That’s our same mentality here, we have to go out and win three games. Defense and pitching first and then scoring some runs.”

In Game 2, left-hander Framber Valdez goes for the Astros and left-hander Sean Manaea starts for the A’s.

DAY GAMES

Few athletes used to working nights are fond of playing day games. But every game in the ALDS starts between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. PDT.

It’ll be hot, too. Monday’s high is forecast for 93 degrees and Tuesday calls for 88 degrees.

“Day games are when the ball carries more,” Melvin said.

There are no days off during the series, either.

“You’re a little bit more patient with your starters,” Melvin said. “We do have a pretty deep pitching staff. The third game might be the one you try to eye doing something a little bit different.”

INSIDE ENEMY TERRITORY

The Dodgers are off in Texas for the NL Division Series, and as the No. 2 seed, the Athletics get to ensconce in the plusher home clubhouse. The No. 6 Astros are relegated to the sparser visitors side.

Melvin spent 40 minutes checking out the Dodgers memorabilia and photos that decorate the hallways and manager’s office.

“If that’s weird,” he said about being in enemy territory, “then this part of weird is really cool.”

Astros manager Dusty Baker — a former Dodgers outfielder — doesn’t need to walk around his old ballpark, where there are photos of him and his 1981 Gold Glove award.

“Most of my reminiscing is done in the dugout,” he said, recalling how he was booed when he struggled during his first season in 1976. A few years, later he made the All-Star team.

“It taught me not to get too high when things are going good or too low when things are going poorly,” he said. “That’s why I don’t read any articles on me to this day. I learned when I was with the Dodgers that first year, why should other people control my self-esteem?”

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Kershaw Ks 13 as Dodgers eliminate Brewers 3-0

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Beat up in the postseason over the years, Clayton Kershaw orchestrated one of his best performances against the weakened Milwaukee Brewers.

Kershaw struck out 13 while delivering eight innings of three-hit ball, Mookie Betts hit a two-out, two-run double in the fifth, and the Los Angeles Dodgers won 3-0 to sweep their NL wild-card series on Thursday night.

“This was a fun night for me,” said Kershaw, who displayed a rare smile on the mound. “Get the postseason off to a good start. It’s a good first step for sure.”

The eight-time West champion Dodgers advanced to the NL Division Series in Arlington, Texas, and will play either the St. Louis Cardinals or San Diego Padres, who meet in a deciding Game 3 on Friday.

Kershaw’s strikeouts were a playoff career high and the most by a Dodgers pitcher in the postseason since his mentor Sandy Koufax had 15 in Game 1 of the 1963 World Series against the Yankees.

“That was pretty spectacular, for sure,” Betts said. “He gave us all the opportunities in the world to capitalize.”

Kershaw issued his lone walk to Luis Urias in the eighth and promptly picked him off when a diving Urias couldn’t get back to the bag. The Brewers lost their challenge of the call.

“Kershaw was just determined,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He gave us all he had and all we needed.”

Kershaw, a three-time NL Cy Young Award winner, showed none of the fallibility that’s plagued his postseason career. He came in with a 9-11 record and 4.43 ERA in the playoffs. A year ago, he came on in relief of starter Walker Buehler against Washington, gave up back-to-back homers and was removed in Game 5 of the Division Series.

This time, he had his way with the beleaguered Brewers. He gave up singles to Jedd Gyorko, Urias and Keston Hiura.

“Offensively, it was a struggle,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “Kershaw, he was exceptional. His slider was as good as I remember it.”

Neither team managed to hit a ball hard as Brandon Woodruff and Kershaw dueled through four innings. Only two of the Dodgers’ nine hitters didn’t strike out during that span; five of the Brewers didn’t.

After leading the majors with 118 home runs this season, Los Angeles managed just one hit through four innings, a single by Austin Barnes, before breaking out in the fifth with a trio of singles.

Cody Bellinger and Chris Taylor had back-to-back singles up the middle with one out. AJ Pollock grounded into a fielder’s choice to third and Urias stepped on the bag to force Bellinger and fired to first. But Gyorko couldn’t handle the throw in time to complete the double play.

“It’s a difficult play. We just didn’t make it,” Counsell said, “and it ended up costing us because they’re a good team.”

Barnes singled with two outs to set up Betts, who doubled sharply down the third-base line. The ball rolled into the left-field corner and three runs scored to chase Woodruff.

Woodruff allowed three runs and five hits in 4 2/3 innings. The right-hander struck out a career postseason high of nine against no walks. As he was walking off the mound after being replaced, Woodruff shouted expletives and gestured angrily in the direction of plate umpire Quinn Wolcott, who tossed him. Woodruff grew upset when a 1-2 pitch to Barnes was called a ball.

“I thought it was a strike,” Woodruff said. “Just the heat of the moment and really wanting to put up a zero, at that moment I knew that that could have been a big turning point with that call. That’s why the reaction was what it was.”

Brusdar Graterol pitched the ninth to earn his first career save for the Dodgers, with veteran closer Kenley Jansen watching from the bullpen. Graterol allowed a single, the Brewers’ fourth hit of the game.

Milwaukee never got above .500 all season and posted a losing record before eking into the expanded postseason as the No. 8 seed.

“Every time your season comes to an end, it’s a bummer,” said Christian Yelich, who was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts. “It’s a bummer because it’s never the same team the next year. We went through a lot as a group. I’m definitely proud of the guys.”

As if the Brewers didn’t have enough injuries already, catcher Jacob Nottingham got hurt and left the game in the sixth.

Slugger Ryan Braun sat out the game with a strained oblique that he originally injured last weekend and re-aggravated crashing into the right field wall in a 4-2 loss in Game 1 on Wednesday. Milwaukee played the series without its top pitcher Corbin Burnes and top reliever Devin Williams, who are both hurt.

HOME FIELD, NOT REALLY

The Dodgers had the best record in baseball at 43-17 during the shortened 60-game season, and earned home-field advantage throughout the postseason. But from here on out, they’ll be playing their games in Texas. That’s where the NL Division Series and NL Championship Series will be contested, as well as the first neutral site World Series.

FAULTY MIC

Justin Turner wore an earpiece during Game 1 for ESPN’s broadcast. He was seen fiddling with it while playing third base, trying to keep it in his ear. Roberts found out about the arrangement an hour before gametime. “I’m not a fan of it,” Roberts said. “Going forward, I don’t want our guys to do that.” He said it was a decision Turner made on his own.

“I wouldn’t mind if Yelich did it or any team that we’re playing,” Roberts said.

UP NEXT

Brewers: Host Oakland in their spring training opener on Feb. 27.

Dodgers: Open the NL Division Series on Tuesday in Arlington, Texas.

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Yanks sweep Indians 10-9 in draining game, meet Rays in ALDS

CLEVELAND (AP) — It took the New York Yankees nearly five hours on the field, carried them from Wednesday to Thursday and September into October to complete the sweep.

They stumbled into the 2020 postseason. They’re standing tall now.

DJ LeMahieu’s tiebreaking single in the ninth inning off closer Brad Hand sent the Yankees into the AL Division Series — and a matchup with rival Tampa Bay — after a wild 10-9 win over the Cleveland Indians early Thursday in the longest nine-inning game in major league history.

“I’m 47 years old. I’ve watched a lot of baseball. I’ve watched a lot of my dad’s playoffs games, been in some really big games, and I don’t know how you top that one — the back and forth, the amount of big plays,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Tonight just had that feeling that these guys weren’t going to be denied.

“They weren’t going to lose.”

At 4 hours, 50 minutes — even without two rain delays totaling another 76 minutes — it was draining. It’s no wonder after Aroldis Chapman got the final out well after 1 a.m. that the Yankees barely celebrated on the field. They observed COVID protocols and shared some fist bumps as they left.

“You don’t have to pour champagne on each other to appreciate what an epic game that was and the fact that we’re moving on,” Boone said.

The Yankees will play the Rays in a best-of-five Division Series next week in San Diego. New York went 2-8 during a testy season series with top-seeded Tampa Bay, which won the AL East by seven games over the second-place Yankees.

“They’ve been the best team in our league all year, so we’re excited to play the best team and hopefully can have our way with them,” Boone said.

LeMahieu, the AL batting champion during the shortened, 60-game regular season, grounded his hit into center field to score Gio Urshela, who hit a go-ahead grand slam earlier and made a huge defensive play at third base.

“That was one of the best games I’ve played in my life,” Urshela said.

Down 9-8, the Yankees tied it in the ninth on Gary Sánchez’s sacrifice fly off Hand, who went 16 of 16 on save tries during the season but was stung by a walk.

The Yankees were staggering last week. But their heavy-hitting lineup got rolling over two nights in chilly, mostly empty Progressive Field. New York pounded Cleveland ace Shane Bieber in the opener and now the Yankees, who hit seven homers in the series, have found their swing as the calendar flips to the month that defines them.

“We probably caught people’s attention,” Boone said. “We haven’t done anything yet. This was just a stepping stone.”

Chapman got the last six outs for the win, aided by a spectacular play from Urshela to begin an inning-ending double play in the eighth that kept it a one-run game. The Indians got the potential tying run to first in the ninth on a strikeout passed ball with two outs before Chapman struck out pinch-hitter Austin Hedges.

For the Indians, a season of adversity ends with more heartache. They twice rallied to tie the Yankees and took the lead in the eighth on César Hernández’s bloop RBI single off Chapman only to have the reliable Hand give it away.

Cleveland, which hasn’t won the World Series since 1948, has lost eight straight postseason games and dropped 10 consecutive elimination games — a major league record — extending back to the 1997 Series.

“We had many different things and a lot of obstacles,” said acting manager Sandy Alomar Jr., who filled in while Terry Francona dealt with health issues. “But this group stayed together — by any means. We had an eight-game losing streak, they came back.

“Today’s game reflected how much this team grinds and how much they fight.”

Sánchez, benched in Game 1, had a two-run homer and Giancarlo Stanton connected on a solo shot for New York, which was down 4-0 in the first.

The Yankees were two different teams this season as they played much better at home in the Bronx than on the road, going 11-18.

They entered this expanded postseason as a No. 5 seed and not scaring anyone, but now they’ve got momentum.

“When we’re right,” Boone said before Game 2, “it doesn’t matter where we are.”

Down 8-6 and their postseason in jeopardy of a quick ending, the Indians tied it in the seventh on pinch-hitter Jordan Luplow’s two-out, two-run double off right-hander Jonathan Loaisiga following a gutty move by Alomar.

With two on, Alomar sent Luplow to the plate instead of Josh Naylor, who became the first player in major league history to get five hits in his first five postseason plate appearances.

Luplow smoked a ball to center that went over Aaron Hicks’ head and brought in two, sending Cleveland’s bench into a frenzy.

A two-time All-Star, Sánchez was benched for the opener after hitting .147 over 60 games, and he batted ninth for the first time in his career in Game 2.

But he rewarded Boone’s faith by connecting in the sixth inning off Indians rookie Triston McKenzie with a wind-aided shot to right to tie it 6-all.

“He’s shown me a lot the last couple of days,” Boone said of his embattled catcher.

The Indians head into an offseason of uncertainty.

All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor went 1 for 8 in the series and might have played his last game in Cleveland. The Indians have him under control for one more season, but he’s turned down several contract offers and the club may have no choice but to trade him before he becomes a free agent.

RECORD STORE

Indians pitchers walked 12, tied for the most in any postseason game. The 19 combined walks by both teams also matched a postseason mark. … The longest nine-inning game in the regular season lasted 4:45, the longest previous in the postseason took 4:37. … Urshela is the third Yankees player to hit a go-ahead grand slam in the postseason, joining Gil McDougald (1951) and Tino Martinez (1998).

ANOTHER CHANCE

Depending on what happens with Francona, Alomar could be Cleveland’s next manager. The former Indians All-Star catcher has been a managerial candidate elsewhere in the past, but never felt any of the opportunities were genuine.

“Some of the interviews were, to me, token interviews,” he said. “If somebody’s interested, they can call and we’ll talk. But it’s not like I’m pushing myself or promoting myself to be a manager.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Indians: C Roberto Pérez left with a bruised right hand after being hit by a pitch in the seventh.

UP NEXT

Yankees: Some rest before the ALDS begins on Monday.

Indians: A potentially turbulent offseason of major decisions on Lindor, Francona’s health and perhaps a name change.