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Braves blast 4 HRs, beat Dodgers 9-2 for 3-1 lead in NLCS

Eddie Rosario homered twice in his second four-hit game of the series and six pitchers combined on a four-hitter, giving the Atlanta Braves a 9-2 triumph Wednesday night over the Los Angeles Dodgers and a commanding 3-1 lead in the NL Championship Series.

Game 5 is Thursday at Dodger Stadium, with the Braves one victory from their first pennant in 22 years and the defending World Series champions facing elimination. Last year, the Dodgers trailed 0-2 and 1/3 against the Braves in the NLCS before roaring back to win three consecutive games and claim the pennant at a neutral site in Arlington, Texas.

They’ll need to jump-start their offense to have a shot. Their first five hitters — Mookie Betts, Corey Seager, NL batting champion Trea Turner, Will Smith and Gavin Lux — were a combined 0 for 17.

Rosario became the first player to have two four-hit games in a League Championship Series. He drove in four runs while continuing his torrid postseason hitting, finishing a double short of the cycle. He homered in the second, tripled in the third, singled in the fifth and clocked a three-run homer in the ninth.

The left fielder has hit in every game of this postseason, collecting 14 hits so far. He has struck out once.

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The Braves’ four homers tied a postseason franchise record.

Each of the series’ first three games was decided by one run in the last two innings.

But when it got late, the Dodgers couldn’t generate any comeback magic this time.

Atlanta opener Jesse Chavez combined with Drew Smyly, Chris Martin, A.J. Minter and Tyler Matzek and Will Smith to hold down the Dodgers’ offense.

Los Angeles didn’t get a hit until the fifth and was limited to one the rest of the way.

The Braves wasted no time in jumping all over 20-game winner Julio Urías, who gave up three homers in just 2 2/3 innings. It was the second time he gave up that many in his career; the first time was in his second major league game in 2016.

Rosario drove an 0-2 pitch into the left-field pavilion leading off the second and Adam Duvall followed with a shot to center, the first time the Braves homered back-to-back in the postseason since Oct. 3, 2002, versus San Francisco in Game 2 of the NL Division Series.

Freddie Freeman went deep leading off the third. Two outs later, Rosario tripled to deep right on a two-strike pitch, sliding headfirst into the bag. Duvall was intentionally walked and Joc Pederson singled to center, scoring Rosario for a 4-0 lead.

The Dodgers closed to 5-2 in the fifth on pinch-hitter AJ Pollock’s two-out, two-run single. Justin Turner singled for their first hit of the game and Cody Bellinger followed with a single and stolen base.

Freeman’s RBI double in the ninth made it 6-2 before Rosario went deep.

Urías didn’t record a strikeout until the fourth, when Dansby Swanson and Freeman went down swinging back-to-back to end the left-hander’s first clean inning.

Urías gave up five runs and eight hits in five innings. He struck out three and walked three.

Urías started on two days’ rest, having thrown an inning of relief in Game 2 at Atlanta. He gave up two runs on three hits, including a tying double to Austin Riley. Duvall robbed Lux of a home run with a leaping catch at the wall in center in the second.

Duvall went to the warning track in the seventh to catch a ball hit by Bellinger, who hit a tying, three-run homer in the Dodgers’ eighth-inning rally that helped win Game 3 on Tuesday.

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Stanton, Yankees win 10th straight, cool off Braves 5-1

Giancarlo Stanton homered and drove in three runs to carry the New York Yankees to their 10th consecutive victory, cooling off the streaking Atlanta Braves 5-1 on Monday night.

The Yankees snapped first-place Atlanta’s own nine-game winning streak in the first regular-season matchup in almost 120 years between teams that had won at least nine in a row.

Stanton homered in the second inning off Huascar Ynoa (4-3) and snapped a 1-all tie in the sixth with a two-out, two-run double.

Gary Sánchez gave New York some insurance with another two-out hit in the eighth, singling through the shift to bring home two more runs.

Jordan Montgomery (5-5) worked around four walks in his five-inning stint, limiting the Braves to two hits — including a homer by Dansby Swanson.

The Yankees’ bullpen took it from there. Jonathan Loaisiga pitched two scoreless innings, striking out four. Wandy Peralta worked around a couple of hits in the eighth and Aroldis Chapman finished off Atlanta with a 1-2-3 ninth.

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In the second, Stanton put the Yankees ahead with his 21st homer — going the opposite way with a 387-foot shot into the Chop House restaurant in right.

The Braves tied it in the bottom half with a long ball of their own.

Swanson launched a 408-foot drive into the Atlanta bullpen for his 25th homer of the campaign.

New York went ahead for good in the sixth, taking advantage of Ynoa’s only spurt of wildness.

After plunking DJ LeMahieu with a pitch, Ynoa retired the next two hitters before issuing his only walk of the night to Joey Gallo.

Stanton made the Atlanta pitcher pay, lining a one-hop double off the wall in left to bring home both runners.

Ynoa turned in another strong start in his second appearance since an extended stint on the injured list after hurting his right hand punching a wall in frustration. He permitted four hits, three runs and struck out nine over six innings.

Montgomery was backed up by a couple of stellar defensive plays, including a diving catch by Gallo down the left-field line to rob Guillermo Heredia of a hit in the second.

The game was played in a playoff-like atmosphere, with a near-sellout crowd of 39,176 in Atlanta and plenty of Yankees fans to spice things up.

It marked the first matchup between two teams this hot since Sept. 7, 1901, when the Pittsburgh Pirates took a 10-game winning streak into their contest against the Philadelphia Phillies, who had won nine in a row.

The Phillies won 4-1 for their 10th straight victory, but Pittsburgh went on to capture the NL pennant. The first World Series would not be held for two more years.

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New York Mets lose Marcus Stroman to hip injury, Joey Lucchesi to Tommy John; Michael Conforto’s IL return delayed

Marcus Stroman has a sore hip, Michael Conforto’s return was delayed due to coronavirus concerns and Joey Lucchesi is out for the campaign.

The hits just keep on coming for the injury-riddled New York Mets.

Stroman, the team’s most durable starting pitcher this season, exited Tuesday night’s outing versus Atlanta in the second inning due to an aching left hip.

Conforto is on deck to come off the injured list, but the right fielder wasn’t activated Tuesday after Triple-A Syracuse’s scheduled match was postponed to allow for more COVID-19 testing and contact tracing within the organization.

Conforto spent last weekend on a rehab assignment with Syracuse, so the Mets said they decided not to reinstate him Tuesday “out of an abundance of caution.” The team said Conforto tested negative Tuesday night and it plans to activate him before Wednesday’s game against the Braves. He has been sidelined since straining his right hamstring on May 16.

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Lucchesi, however, is headed for Tommy John surgery, the Mets confirmed Tuesday.

The left-hander had solidified a spot at the back of the rotation by posting a 1.19 ERA over his previous five starts.

Stroman threw 18 pitches in a hitless first inning and fell behind Austin Riley 2-1 leading off the second before manager Luis Rojas and an athletic trainer visited the mound.

With the entire infield and plate umpire Pat Hoberg gathered around Stroman, the right-hander consulted with Rojas and the trainer while making throwing motions. Stroman threw one warmup pitch to catcher James McCann before another extended consultation.

Stroman then threw two more warmup pitches and kept talking with everyone at the mound — this time in a group that included first base umpire Ron Kulpa — before walking off .

Prior to Tuesday, Stroman had lasted at least six innings in eight consecutive starts. He and left-hander David Peterson are the only Mets pitchers to take every scheduled turn this year.

Two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom spent two weeks on the injured list with tightness in his side — and exited two starts this month with arm ailments — while Carlos Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard have yet to pitch this season because of injuries.

Rojas stated before the game he didn’t know who would start in Lucchesi’s place Wednesday night.

“We have guys that can go long in our bullpen if they get another day of rest tonight,” Rojas said.

Yennsy Diaz relieved Stroman and completed a walk to Riley — which was charged to Stroman — and then loaded the bases with none out before striking out three straight batters. Rojas said on June 8 that Conforto was still a couple of weeks from starting a rehab assignment. But he was able to resume baseball activities at Citi Field during the previous homestand and hit .182 in three rehab games for Syracuse last weekend.

“He’s actually exceeded our expectations,” acting general manager Zack Scott said Tuesday. “Hit all the kind of objective markers on his strength of his hamstring. He’s ready to go.”

Conforto is hitting .230 with two homers and 13 RBIs in 33 games.

Lucchesi’s injury was another blow to a rotation that was already thin behind deGrom, Taijuan Walker and Stroman. Still, the unit has been splendid all season, a big reason the depleted Mets lead the NL East. Lucchesi was placed on the injured list Saturday, one day after he threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings against Washington. An MRI revealed a significant tear of his left UCL and a second opinion Tuesday confirmed the diagnosis. He is arranged  to undergo surgery Thursday.

“Tough break for Joey and for the club,” Scott said. “He’s got a full tear, so it’s pretty cut-and-dry.”

Lucchesi’s injury leaves just Peterson behind deGrom, Walker and Stroman. With Carrasco (right hamstring) and Syndergaard (elbow) still several weeks from returning, Scott said he would “explore all options” for rotation reinforcements.

Before the game, the Mets recalled reserve catcher Patrick Mazeika from Syracuse and optioned infielder-outfielder Brandon Drury to their top farm club. Right-hander Robert Stock was claimed from the Chicago Cubs and optioned to Triple-A.

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DeMarlo Hale replaces Brad Mills on Terry Francona’s Cleveland Indians coaching staff

Indians manager Terry Francona has assembled his coaching staff for the 2021 season, but it won’t contain his longtime friend and bench coach Brad Mills.

Francona, who missed much of this past shortened season with significant health issues, will replace Mills with DeMarlo Hale. Hale, 59, joins the Indians after spending the past two seasons with the Braves.

Hale previously worked on Francona’s staff in Boston from 2006 to 2011, serving as bench coach in 2010 and 2011. Hale has also been with Texas, Baltimore and Toronto. Mills, who opted out of the 2020 season for personal motives, will remain with the Indians in a yet-to-be determined capacity.

“DeMarlo was one guy that I kind of thought that if I ever get back to managing again, this is a guy I’d like to have on my staff. He’s really good. He has an unbelievable way of not just communicating, but connecting with everybody,”

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Francona stated on a call from his home in Arizona.

Francona intends to return for his ninth season with the Indians.

He managed only 14 games this year due to a gastrointestinal issue requiring surgeries as well as blood-clot complications that landed him in the hospital for several days.

“I feel good. I’ve spent the last six weeks really working hard,” Francona said. “I told (Indians president of baseball operations) Chris (Antonetti) I needed to do that. I said, ‘Hey, give me until Thanksgiving just to make sure I’m OK.’ We’re coming up on Thanksgiving now and I’m doing pretty well.

“I’ve been active, lost some weight and feel like I’m putting myself in a better position to succeed physically over the course of a long season.”

With first-base coach Sandy Alomar Jr. filling in for Francona, the Indians clinched a wild-card spot but were eliminated by the Yankees.

Alomar, who has been a Cleveland coach for more than a decade, figured to be a candidate for a managerial job but didn’t get one.

That shocked Francona.

“I was borderline stunned that somebody didn’t try to hire him away from us this winter, because I thought he basically did a 54-game interview process and did it under the most difficult of circumstances and kind of aced it,” he said. “Now, for personal reasons, I’m glad he’s staying. I love having him on our staff.

“I guarantee you Sandy has as much or more responsibility than any first base coach in baseball, and there’s a reason, and that’s because he’s really good. … When you spend eight years with somebody you get to trust them a lot. So for personal reasons, I’m thrilled he’s back, but I am really surprised.’

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