Tagged in: win

Milwaukee Brewers clinch 4th straight playoff berth with win over Chicago Cubs

Manny Pina homered twice, Eduardo Escobar and Jace Peterson also connected, and the Brewers clinched their fourth consecutive postseason berth with a 6-4 win over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday night.

The Brewers won for the seventh time in nine games to ensure themselves at least a wild card after San Diego and Cincinnati lost earlier in the day.

Milwaukee’s magic number to lock up the National League Central title is three over St. Louis.

“There will be a little bit of celebrating tonight,” said Brewers starter and NL Cy Young Award contender Corbin Burnes. “But the main celebration is going to be when we clinch the division.”

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Burnes was shaky by his standards in his first start since throwing eight innings in a combined no-hitter a week ago. He permitted three runs and six hits over six innings, striking out 11.

The right-hander gave up Ian Happ’s 23rd homer with a man on in the fifth.

It was the first homer allowed by Burnes since Aug. 6, when San Francisco’s Brandon Belt took him deep.

“You’re not going to be perfect every night, so sometimes that zero in the sixth is still a huge part of a game that helps you win a ball game,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “That’s what he did tonight.”

Pina, Milwaukee’s backup catcher, scored the first run of the night when he sent Justin Steele’s first pitch of the second inning to center. Escobar followed with a solo shot to lead off the third, snapping a 1-1 tie.

Burnes left the game with a 3-2 lead thanks to a solo home run by Peterson to lead off the sixth, but the Cubs tied it an inning later when Willson Contreras, who was robbed of a home run by Lorenzo Cain in the second, tagged Brad Boxberger for a two-out solo shot that made it a 4-4 game.

Pina struck again from the leadoff spot in the eighth, sending an 0-2 slider from Scott Effross (2-1) down the left-field line. Kolten Wong added an insurance run later in the inning, driving in Pablo Reyes on an infield single.

“I wasn’t sure if it was fair or foul,” Pina said. “So I was using my body to say, ‘Stay in! Stay in!’ That was a good swing, good contact.”Devin Williams (8-2) pitched a scoreless eighth, and Josh Hader stranded a pair of runners in the ninth for his 33rd save.

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Diamondbacks a perfect 4-0 against Phillies after 8-7 win

Carson Kelly hit a two run-homer and drove in three runs, Nick Ahmed added a two-run blast and Zac Gallen pitched five strong innings in his first start in his hometown, leading the Arizona Diamondbacks to an 8-7 victory over the slumping Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday night.

Asdrubal Cabrera, Josh Rojas and Drew Ellis had RBI singles as the Diamondbacks pounded Phillies pitching for 15 hits.

Gallen (2-7), who grew up in nearby Pennsauken, New Jersey, needed 103 pitches to get through five innings. He permitted just three hits and no earned runs while striking out six.

It’s been a long year for Arizona (44-85), but the Diamondbacks have been perfect versus the Phillies this season, winning all four contests, so far. Since 2017, Arizona is 18-5 against Philadelphia, the best record against the Phillies of any team in baseball in that span.

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Jean Segura hit a two-run home run to supply the brunt of offense for the Phillies (62-63), who have lost seven of nine to fall 5½ games behind the idle Atlanta Braves in the NL East.

Philadelphia is 4-11 since winning eight in a row and moving into first place earlier this month.

The Phillies tried to mount a comeback by taking advantage of two Arizona errors in the ninth inning. They added unearned runs on a fielder’s choice by Freddy Galvis, two-run double by Bryce Harper, and a two-run single by Didi Gregorius. But Philadelphia couldn’t finish it off as Noe Ramirez struck out Brad Miller with the tying run on base to earn his first save since 2018 when he was with the Los Angeles Angels.

The Diamondbacks jumped all over Phillies starter Matt Moore (2-4), tagging him for four runs and seven hits in just four innings.

Moore was pressed into emergency starting duty after scheduled starter Zach Eflin was scratched just a couple hours before the match with inflammation in his left knee.

Ahmed’s homer was a big blow in the fourth inning, as he crushed a 1-2 fastball from Moore to the deepest part of the ballpark in left centerfield for his fourth homer of the season to make it 4-0.

Kelly’s homer, his 10th of the season, seemed to put the game out of reach in the eighth inning, but turned out to be the game-winning RBI. Kelly also had an RBI single in the sixth inning to restore Arizona’s four-run lead after Segura’s homer an inning earlier.

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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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Rangers steal home in 4-1 win over Angels for 3 in a row

Dane Dunning won consecutive starts for the first time this campaign for Texas, and the Rangers took the lead for good with a double steal in a 4-1 triumph over the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night.

Brock Holt scored the tiebreaking run with a headfirst slide into home on the back-end of a double steal in the fifth inning, the second time this season the Rangers stole home. Holt later added a sacrifice fly.

Dunning (5-7) got Shohei Ohtani out for the third time, on a ground ball ending the top of the fifth. That was the last batter for Dunning, who struck out three, walked two and permitted one run on three hits.

Spencer Patton worked the ninth for his first big league save in three chances as the last-place Rangers won their third game in a row.

Angels right-hander Chris Rodriguez (2-1) struck out seven and walked two while allowing four runs (three earned) and four hits in his first big league start. He left after the first two batters in the seventh reached, and both scored.

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Rodriguez made 13 relief appearances earlier this season for the Angels before being sent to the minors June 21 to become a starter.

His first MLB start came a day after Reid Detmers, the only higher-rated pitching prospect in the Angels organization, made his.

Holt was in a 3-for-36 slide before his double in the fifth, and he went to third after Isiah Kiner-Falefa reached on a fielder’s choice that was the second out.

Kiner-Falefa drew a throw from catcher Max Stassi as he stole second, and Holt then took off and beat a one-hop throw back to the plate by shortstop José Iglesias for a 2-1 lead.

Curtis Terry, who had a double in the second for his first hit after going 0 for 20 since his big league debut July 23, added a a single in the seventh for his second hit to chase Rodriguez, and came home on Kiner-Falefa’s single after Holt’s sac fly.

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Team USA falls to France at Tokyo Games for first Olympic men’s basketball loss since 2004

Team USA’s invincibility in men’s basketball is long gone, and the journey to a fourth successive gold medal is already fraught with adversity.

France gut-punched the Americans with a brilliant finish for an 83-76 triumph to open the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday. It snapped a 25-game Olympic winning streak dating back to 2004 for Team USA.

The final blow came when Evan Fournier drilled a 3-pointer with a minute to play to give the French the lead for good, completing their comeback after the U.S. had an eight-point lead with four minutes to play. It was the biggest of his 28 points in one of the finest games he has played in his career.

It was followed by an amazing possession in which the Americans managed to get five shots off and missed them all. The final three were wide-open 3-point attempts by Zach LaVine, Kevin Durant and Jrue Holiday.

“I got to lead the team because I know these guys,” Fournier said. “It’s a hell of a win. Our country is going to be extremely proud. But it’s just one game, to be honest.”

If there was a moment in this match that best encapsulated the situation between these two teams, it came at the end, when the French calmly shook the Americans’ hands and left the floor with the same business-as-usual demeanor Fournier displayed. Two years ago at the World Cup in China, France celebrated wildly after defeating a much-less-talented Team USA.

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“There’s nothing to be surprised about,” Team USA coach Gregg Popovich said before launching into what has become his go-to statement after losses.

“When you lose a game, you’re not surprised. You’re disappointed, but I don’t understand the word surprised. That sort of disses the French team, so to speak, as if we’re supposed to beat them by 30 or something. That’s a hell of a team.”

The French won the bronze at that World Cup, but their talent does not compare to that of the Americans.

And it does not explain how a U.S. team built for scoring and shooting went an unexplainable four and a half minutes without a basket down the stretch.

Fatigue was a factor. Three players didn’t get to the team hotel until 1 a.m. on gameday, an unusual set of circumstances. But one of them, Jrue Holiday, was masterful in the fourth quarter as he scored 12 of his 18 points and contributed several other energy plays to help the U.S. build a lead.

The Americans then had a host of stars to lean on such as Durant, Jayson Tatum and Damian Lillard. But they failed as the French ran an execution clinic.

Popovich seemed annoyed by media questions about the upset, as has been his custom. He has overseen losses in five of the past eight games he has coached for the national team dating back to 2019. There were some who admitted the loss was a disappointment, however.

“I think we have a history of dominance and maybe not always blowing people out, but we have a history of winning. And it’s not often that you see Team USA go out there and lose, especially to start,” stated Lillard, who shot just 3-of-10 and had two critical turnovers late in the game.

Popovich said he’d been thinking about this rematch for two years and daily since the game was drawn in February. But he never figured out how to slow down Fournier as he repeatedly got free for open looks on the perimeter. Even Holiday, who was brilliant in the NBA Finals, helping the Bucks clinch the title Tuesday, couldn’t stem the tide.

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The Milwaukee Bucks To First NBA Championship In 50 Years

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 50 points on Tuesday night to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to their first NBA Championship in 50 years.

Only six other players have scored 50 points or more in the NBA Finals. Only one other player has done it to clinch the title: Bob Petit had 50 in 1958 to win it all for the (then) St. Louis Hawks.

Led by two-time league MVP Antetokounmpo, the Bucks dominated the early part of the game, rocking the Phoenix Suns back on their heels from the outset. But Suns’ floor general Chris Paul took them on a run that had Phoenix back in the lead by halftime.

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Antetokounmpo took over in the 3rd, going for 20 points in the period, a single-quarter feat of force no other player has achieved in the Finals since Michael Jordan did it 28 years ago.

Antetokounmpo ended the game with 50 points, 13 rebounds, 5 blocks and — possibly most remarkable for him — made 17 of his 19 free throws.

The final score was 104-98. Bucks in 6.

It was a sweet victory for Milwaukee, who got to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy in front of their home crowd, tens of thousands of whom crowded outside Fiserv Forum to witness the win together on big screens.

The Bucks’ last — and only other championship — came in 1971, when they were led by another all-time great big man named Lou Alcindor, who later became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. After three more seasons Abdul-Jabbar went to the Lakers.

Antetokounmpo could have done the same thing once he was with the Bucks for three years. He could have left small market Milwaukee for the lights of L.A. or New York, but he stayed a Buck and signed a new contract in 2016.

In 2020, he redoubled his commitment and signed a $228 million contract, declaring in a Twitter post, “This is my home, this is my city.”

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Schwarber goes deep again for Nats in 3-2 win over Pirates

Kyle Schwarber homered again to snap a seventh-inning tie and drove in two runs for the Washington Nationals in their 3-2 triumph over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday night.

Jon Lester pitched 5 1/3 solid innings to help the Nationals win for the third time in four matches.

Schwarber’s homer was his fourth in three days. The Nationals moved him to the leadoff spot Saturday in the opener of a day-night doubleheader. He led off that game with a home run, hit two more on Sunday and launched the go-ahead shot this time against reliever Clay Holmes (2-2).

Schwarber also had an RBI single in the third and walked. His lone out was a line drive caught by leaping second baseman Adam Frazier in the first inning.

Lester made it into the sixth for just the fourth time in nine starts this season. He allowed a leadoff double, then got a line-drive out before being removed. The 37-year-old left-hander is averaging 4 2/3 innings per start this year.Wander Suero replaced him and allowed a soft single and Erik Gonzalez’s sacrifice fly that tied it at 2.

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Kyle Finnegan (3-2) struck out two in a hitless inning for the win. Brad Hand pitched a scoreless ninth for his 12th save in 14 tries.

Schwarber pushed Victor Robles home with his single in the third. Juan Soto’s single drove in Trea Turner to give the Nationals a 2-1 lead later in the inning.

Kevin Newman started the scoring with his second homer of the season to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead in the second.

Pittsburgh starter JT Brubaker permitted two runs and four hits in five innings.

Washington ace Max Scherzer is one of eight players on the MLBPA executive committee and one of just two association player representatives. So, when he speaks on a broad topic, his words carry weight beyond his Hall of Fame pitching résumé.

He was asked Monday about Major League Baseball’s expected crackdown on pitchers using the “sticky stuff” to improve their grip, and, at times, spin rates, when throwing the baseball.

“There’s solutions to all of us and how we go forward with this and what should be the rules of what the practice should be,” Scherzer stated.

“And specifically, what hitters want. I think that’s the biggest question: What do hitters want? We’ve heard from a lot of hitters. All the hitters that talk publicly, they want the pitchers to have a tack over the baseball, a grip over the baseball. So what that looks like, that’s a conversation we’ll have.”

Scherzer also mentioned he knew as much about baseball’s prospective enforcement as reporters did, meaning MLB is not communicating with the union about it.

“Whatever’s been written is what we know,” Scherzer said. “There hasn’t been additional information other than that.”

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Rookie Gutierrez wins again as Reds beat Brewers 7-3

Vladimir Gutierrez pitched seven effective innings, Tyler Stephenson drove in three runs and the Cincinnati Reds stopped Milwaukee’s five-game win streak with a 7-3 triumph over the Brewers on Wednesday night.

Gutierrez (2-1) permitted two runs and six hits in the longest of his three big league starts. The right-hander struck out seven and walked three in his second consecutive win.

Cincinnati backed its rookie pitcher with five runs in the first two innings. Stephenson doubled home Jesse Winker in the first, and Nick Castellanos hit a two-run double in the second.

Stephenson made it 7-1 with a two-run double off Eric Lauer in the fourth, driving in Winker and Castellanos.

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Willy Adames had four hits for Milwaukee. Brett Anderson (2-4) labored through three innings, allowing five runs and five hits.

Daniel Vogelbach hit a towering homer to right against Heath Hembree in the ninth. Christian Yelich then doubled, but Hembree struck out Avisaíl García and retired Manny Piña on a fly ball to right to end the match.

The Brewers dropped into second in the NL Central, a half-game back of the Cubs.

Gutierrez got off to a tough start, plunking Luis Urías with the first pitch of the game. Urías advanced to third on García’s two-out single and scored on a balk.

But Gutierrez settled down from there. He got a standing ovation after inducing an inning-ending ground ball from García in the seventh.

RHP Sonny Gray was put on the 10-day injured list after straining a groin muscle while warming up for the fourth inning Tuesday night. Manager David Bell said Gray likely will miss at least his next two starts.

Right-hander Freddy Peralta, who came within five outs of a no-hitter in his last outing, starts against the Reds in the series finale on Thursday. Right-hander Luis Castillo gets the call for the Reds.

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Phoenix Suns’ Chris Paul, aided by improving shoulder, takes over in 4th quarter to close out Game 1 win against Denver Nuggets

There are many things Chris Paul is good at, but one of his most crucial skills is sensing a moment. It’s never about how he starts; it’s how he finishes.

And in Game 1 of the Phoenix Suns’ Western Conference semifinal series versus the visiting Denver Nuggets, Paul started slowly, hitting just two of his eight shots through three quarters. But as the Suns grabbed hold of the contest, so did Paul, going 6-for-6 in the fourth quarter as Phoenix cruised to a 122-105 win.

“It’s in his hands, man,” Suns center Deandre Ayton said. “He’s made us comfortable … just knowing that he’s got it.”

Paul’s command of the match was on full display, with him methodically asserting himself early in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 consecutive points for the Suns as they widened their lead.

He concluded with 21 points, 11 assists and 6 rebounds in 36 minutes, and while his grip on the fourth quarter separated Phoenix, the team showcased its impressive balance and depth throughout.

All five starters finished in double figures, scoring at least 14 points.

The Suns are the first team since the 2013 Golden State Warriors (Game 2 in Round 1) with four 20-point scorers on 55% shooting from the floor in a playoff game.

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“That’s what I’ve said all season long: We have a team,” Paul said. “If you try to take one of us out or whatnot, we make the right play. Who you gonna leave open? Mikal [Bridges] is cash. Jae [Crowder] is cash. Cam [Johnson]. I could keep going on and on, and that’s the benefits of having a team.”

For Paul, better health was part of his fourth-quarter output, as he is now two weeks past his initial shoulder injury sustained in Game 1 versus the Los Angeles Lakers. It’s something he is still dealing with, but as Paul already gets better the longer the game goes on, his shoulder also does.

“It definitely loosens up,” Paul said. “One thing about it is you don’t get no practice time. The only way you get a chance to see how it is is during the game. It was good. It was fun to get out there and be involved. That last series was, that was tough. I’m glad to be back helping the team.”

Paul scored or assisted on 20 of the Suns’ final 34 points. It’s his ninth career playoff game with 20 points, 10 assists and one or fewer turnovers, passing LeBron James for the most in the league with that line since turnovers were first tracked in 1977-78.

At 36 years old, Paul is the oldest player in NBA history with 20 points, 10 assists and 5 rebounds in a playoff game; only four other players — James (six times), Elgin Baylor, John Stockton and Dennis Johnson — have put up that stat line at age 35 or older.

“Man, it’s a different game for him these days from when I was watching him play,” Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon said of Paul.

“He was a lot more explosive back in the day, getting to the cup. He’s always been really smart, and he just keeps getting smarter. He’s a maestro out there orchestrating them. He really has uplifted that whole Phoenix team.

“Just how he talks, how he communicates with them out on the floor; you can tell that he just gives the entire team confidence.”

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Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard, Paul George power win over Mavericks, seize back control of series

The LA Clippers arrived in Dallas down 0-2 in the series with their future clouded in insecurity, but they left with home-court advantage and momentum thanks to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George playing the relentless style they envisioned when they joined forces.

For the second consecutive game, Leonard and George overwhelmed Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks, combining to score 45 points in the first three quarters to help the Clippers even this Western Conference first-round playoff series at 2-2 with a 106-81 rout on Sunday at American Airlines Center.

The Mavericks could not contain Leonard for the third straight match, as the All-Star forward made 11-of-15 shots and tallied 29 points and 10 rebounds. And George scored 13 of 20 points in the second quarter, when the Clippers opened a 48-29 lead with 6:58 left before halftime.

“I think we both have just done a great job of complementing each other,” George said of him and Leonard leading the Clippers back into this series. “[Leonard] has been all-out driving and attacking and putting pressure on their bigs at the rim. Myself, as well. When he needs a break and a breather, now I am in attack mode. I think we are just doing a great job of countering each other.

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“This is ultimately what we wanted to get to — being able to share the court together and doing it on both ends together.”

This was what Leonard, George and the Clippers imagined when the two All-Stars became Clippers during the summer of 2019.

Leonard is playing at the postseason level that made him the NBA Finals MVP for a second time when he led the Toronto Raptors to a championship in 2019. He has been simply too strong and powerful for Dallas to stop, averaging 35.3 points in the past three games.

In leading the Clippers to the past two wins in Dallas, Leonard shot 24-for-32 combined in Games 3 and 4, and he has done the majority of his damage on drives into the paint.

But his message to the Clippers after they lost the first two games of the series at home was to step things up considerably on the defensive end.

Doncic labored through a nerve issue in his neck on Sunday and shot 9-for-24 to finish with 19 points, six assists and six rebounds. But the Clippers were thrilled with their ability to slow down the Mavericks’ other shooters who really shot lights out in Los Angeles.

Tim Hardaway Jr. missed 7 of 8 shots and scored just four points, Dorian Finney-Smith only had eight points and the Mavericks as a group missed 25 of 30 3-point attempts in Game 4.

In the first two games of the series, Dallas took home-court advantage by making 35 of 70 (50%) attempts from behind the arc.

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