Blue Jays keep hopes alive as Dodgers ease ahead of Cubs

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LOS AN­GE­LES: The Toronto Blue Jays kept their hopes of reach­ing Ma­jor League Baseball’s World Se­ries alive on Tues­day with a 5-1 home vic­tory over the Cleve­land In­di­ans.

The Blue Jays de­nied the In­di­ans a fourgame sweep of the best-of-seven Amer­i­can League Cham­pi­onship Se­ries, which will send the win­ners into a ti­tle show­down with ei­ther the Chicago Cubs or Los An­ge­les Dodgers.

The Cubs, trying to end a World Se­ries drought that stretches back to 1908, slipped 2-1 down in the Na­tional League Cham­pi­onship Se­ries with a 6-0 ga­methree de­feat in Los An­ge­les.

In Toronto, Josh Don­ald­son home­red, Ed­win En­car­na­cion drove in two runs and Aaron Sanchez pitched six strong in­nings for the Blue Jays, who handed Cleve­land their first de­feat of the post-sea­son.

Eze­quiel Car­rera sin­gled in a run in the fourth to put Toronto up 2-0.

Robert Perez dou­bled in a run for Cleve­land to trim the deficit, but with the bases loaded in the bot­tom of the sev­enth En­car­na­cion smacked a sin­gle to cen­ter that scored two runs to stretch Toronto’s lead to 4-1, and they tacked on an­other run in the bot­tom of the eighth.

“They hit bet­ter than us, they pitched bet­ter than us, they played de­fense bet­ter than us to­day, so they de­served to win,” Cleve­land short­stop Fran­cisco Lin­dor said. “Their hit­ters looked a lot bet­ter to­day, a lot more com­fort­able.”

Toronto host game five on Wed­nes­day, with the In­di­ans again aim­ing to se­cure their first World Se­ries ap­pear­ance since 1997, when they were beaten by the Florida Mar­lins in a seven-game thriller. Cleve­land last won it all back in 1948. Down 3-1 in the se­ries, the Blue Jays still face a for­mi­da­ble task.

The only baseball team to over­come a 30 post-sea­son se­ries deficit was the 2004 Boston Red Sox, who ral­lied past the New York Yan­kees in the ALCS. “It’s an up­hill bat­tle,” said Don­ald­son, who belted his first homer of the play­offs off Cleve­land starter Corey Klu­ber in the third in­ning. “We’re still down three games to one. It’s a must win each and ev­ery game.

“They have a good team over there, we un­der­stand that and we’re just go­ing to con­tinue to go out there and han­dle and con­trol the things that we can.”

DODGERS ROUGH UP AR­RI­ETA

In Los An­ge­les, Yas­mani Gran­dal and Justin Turner home­red off Cubs ace Jake Ar­ri­eta to help the Dodgers to a 2-1 se­ries lead with games four and five com­ing up in Los An­ge­les on Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day.

Los An­ge­les start­ing pitcher Rich Hill al­lowed just two hits with six strike­outs over six score­less in­nings as the Cubs were shut out in back-to-back games for the first time since May of 2014.

Hill, who just 14 months ago was with an in­de­pen­dent league team hav­ing bounced around and out of the ma­jor leagues, called it the big­gest game of his ca­reer, al­though he said he couldn’t af­ford to think about that dur­ing the con­test.

”It’s all about stay­ing in the mo­ment and ex­e­cut­ing when you’re in that mo­ment and that’s all you can think about,” Hill said.

Cy Young Award-win­ner Ar­ri­eta, who pitched a no-hit­ter at Dodger Sta­dium in Au­gust of last year, gave up six hits in five­plus in­nings, in­clud­ing Gran­dal’s two-run blast in the fourth and Turner’s solo shot in to lead off the sixth that spelled the end of Ar­ri­eta’s night.

Corey Sea­ger had opened the Dodgers’ ac­count with a run-scor­ing sin­gle in the third, and the Dodgers added two more runs in the eighth.

Dodgers re­lief pitch­ers Joe Blan­ton and Grant Day­ton com­bined to throw 1 2/3 score­less in­nings be­fore closer Ken­ley Jansen recorded the final four outs.

“More than any­thing, I think we need to get a cou­ple runs and hits and runs early to try to get that kind of feel­ing back,” said Cubs man­ager Joe Mad­don, whose team haven’t scored since the eighth in­ning of game one of the se­ries in Chicago on Satur­day. De­spite the Cubs’ of­fen­sive strug­gles, Gran­dal said the Dodgers couldn’t take any­thing for granted against the team that posted the best reg­u­lar-sea­son record in baseball. “You can’t look ahead,” Gran­dal said. “These guys won 100-some games. They’ve got the tal­ent. When you think ahead, that’s when bad things hap­pen.” — AFP

TORONTO: Toronto Blue Jays’ Ed­win En­car­na­cion cel­e­brates af­ter his two-RBI dou­ble against the Cleve­land In­di­ans dur­ing the sev­enth in­ning in Game 4 of baseball’s Amer­i­can League Cham­pi­onship Se­ries in Toronto, Tues­day. — AP

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