The Milwaukee Brewers rode a quality start from Brandon Woodruff to a 5-1 home win against the St Louis Cardinals.

After a horrible first showing where he conceded seven runs in less than four innings, Woodruff was terrific in a bounce-back performance on Thursday, pitching five scoreless frames and allowing only four baserunners.

Milwaukee was always in control of the contest, leading 4-0 after three innings thanks to a big home run from Omar Narvaez and RBI hits to Andrew McCutchen and Hunter Renfroe.

However, the best hit of the game belonged to the Cardinals, as Tommy Edman blasted a big 423-foot consolation home run in the eighth inning for the visiting side's only score.

After going one-for-four with a double, Brewers star Christian Yelich now has hits in five of his past six games as he looks to return to form following two down seasons by his standards.

Ohtani gets grand-slammed

Reigning AL MVP Shohei Ohtani was on the receiving end of a Jonah Heim grand slam as the Los Angeles Angels lost to the Texas Rangers 10-5.

Ohtani, who was the Angels' starting pitcher and lead-off hitter, was disappointing on the mound on Thursday, giving up six runs in less than four innings, and finished the game one-for-four in the batter's box after a ninth-inning double.

It was a frustrating game for the Angels after it started so well, as Mike Trout hit one of the biggest home runs of his career in the first inning, travelling 472 feet.

Yankees get out of a jam

Leading 3-0 heading into the ninth inning, the New York Yankees found themselves in a sticky situation when closer Aroldis Chapman walked three consecutive Toronto Blue Jays batters to load the bases with no outs.

Chapman was pulled from the game and replaced with Michael King, who struck out George Springer. 

King then got Bo Bichette to line out to second base for a game-ending double play as Matt Chapman got caught too far away from first base when the catch was made.

Clayton Kershaw agreed with Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts' decision to pull the plug on his potential perfect game after seven innings.

There have only been 23 perfect games thrown in MLB history, and through seven innings in the Dodgers' 7-0 win against the Minnesota Twins, Kershaw had faced 21 batters and retired them all.

But he would be denied his chance at history when he did not return to the mound for the eighth inning, getting pulled to allow the bullpen to finish off the win.

Kershaw, 34, said there were a number of factors to blame for his withdrawal from the game, but not his manager's decision-making.

"Blame it on the lockout, blame it on me not picking up a baseball until January," he said. "My slider was horrible the last two innings. It didn’t have the bite – it was time.

"At the end of the day, those are individual things, those are selfish goals. We’re trying to win. That’s really all we’re here for. 

"As much as I would have wanted to do it, I’ve thrown 75 pitches in a [simulated] game. I hadn’t gone six innings, let alone seven. 

"Sure, I would have loved to do it, but maybe we get another chance. Who knows?"

Kershaw became only the second player to ever get pulled that late into a perfect game – with Roberts pulling the plug on the first instance too, with Rich Hill in 2016.

Speaking about his decision after the game, Roberts said it was a decision no manager likes to make, but he feels it was the correct call.

"I love the idea that we’re preventing runs in that particular game," he said. "It’s not a great spot as far as the decision, ultimately, that I have to make.

"But I think if I can look back and I feel it’s the best decision – in the best interest of the player’s health and for the ball club – looking out, then I feel good about it. 

"But those guys make it tough on me – but we have good players.

"[Kershaw is] pretty honest and understanding of where he was at, how he was feeling, what’s at stake – the win, the no-hitter, the potential health risk, all that stuff matters.

"There’s no right, 100 per cent answer, but in this case I felt it was very clear to me the right decision was."

Juan Soto made history with his 100th career home run in the Washington Nationals' 16-4 loss to world champions, the Atlanta Braves, on Tuesday.

Soto, 23, became the youngest player in franchise history to reach 100 career home runs with a moon shot at the top of the sixth inning.

The homer, which travelled 451 feet according to Statcast to right-center field, was the fourth longest of his career.

"It just comes to me. I never tried to hit a homer, or anything like that," Soto told reporters. "I’m one of the guys who just tries to hit singles every day. So for me to become consistent hitting homers, it’s just impressive and it tells how good I’ve been working on my body and everything."

Soto is the seventh active player to blast 100 homers at age 23 or younger, having first homered as a 19-year-old in 2018.

The Braves ultimately got the win after 10 runs in three innings to open up a 10-1 lead after four innings, but Soto finished with two hits, one run, one walk and one RBI.

Ozzie Albies, who finished with three hits, two runs and three RBIs, blasted his first homer of the 2022 season in the fourth inning.

Giancarlo Stanton continued his remarkable home-run hitting form against the Boston Red Sox as the New York Yankees won 4-2 on Saturday.

Yankees slugger Stanton homered for the sixth consecutive game against the Red Sox, hitting the go-ahead two-run homer to left center field in the sixth inning.

Boston had gone ahead in the second inning from Alex Verdugo's two-run homer, before Anthony Rizzo equalled the feat in the fourth inning to level the game up.

The victory means the Yankees have begun the new season with a 2-0 start, ahead of the third and final game of their series against the Red Sox on Sunday.

"I can’t say it’s the rivalry or anything," Stanton said about his record against the Red Sox. "I’m doing my homework and getting the ball over the plate."

 

Dodgers offense shut down

The Los Angeles Dodgers struggled on offense as they slumped to a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies, who were sparked by an eighth-inning Connor Joe homer.

Rockies closer Daniel Bard shut down the Dodgers in the ninth inning to round out the win, striking out Justin Turner, Edwin Rios and Cody Bellinger.

Austin Barnes had two hits and an RBI for the Dodgers, while Mookie Betts had an eighth-inning RBI single to tie the game up, before Joe's go-ahead blast.

 

Alonso hits career-first grand slam

Pete Alonso clubbed a fifth-inning grand slam to lead the New York Mets past the Washington Nationals 5-0. That marked 27-year-old's first career grand slam and comes after Alonso had been left with a bloodied lip after being struck by a Mason Thompson fastball earlier in the series.

The benches cleared in the Chicago Cubs' 9-0 win over the Milwaukee Brewers after tempers flared between the division rivals when right-hander Keegan Thompson hit Andrew McCutchen in the hip with a fastball.

Dylan Cease stepped in for the Chicago White Sox with eight strikeouts across five innings in their 5-2 win over the Detroit Tigers. Cease remarkably boasts a 9-0 record against the Tigers in 10 starts.

 

Saturday's results

Tampa Bay Rays 5-3 Baltimore Orioles
Chicago White Sox 5-2 Detroit Tigers
Seattle Mariners 4-3 Minnesota Twins
St Louis Cardinals 6-2 Pittsburgh Pirates
Chicago Cubs 9-0 Milwaukee Brewers
Toronto Blue Jays 4-3 Texas Rangers
Philadelphia Phillies 4-2 Oakland Athletics
Miami Marlins 2-1 San Francisco Giants
New York Yankees 4-2 Boston Red Sox
Kansas City Royals 1-0 Cleveland Guardians
New York Mets 5-0 Washington Nationals
Atlanta Braves 2-1 Cincinnati Reds
Colorado Rockies 3-2 Los Angeles Dodgers
San Diego Padres 5-2 Arizona Diamondbacks
Los Angeles Angels 2-0 Houston Astros

 

Astros at Angels

The Los Angeles Angels take on the Houston Astros in the final game of their thrilling four-game series, with Shohei Ohtani potentially back on the mound after being rested for the past two games.

Dave Roberts has signed a three-year extension with the Los Angeles Dodgers, keeping him under contract through the 2025 MLB season.

Roberts had been about to enter the final year of his existing agreement as the Dodgers' manager.

But the team have struck a deal with their World Series-winning manager two weeks before their 2022 opener against the Colorado Rockies.

"I'm very happy to have the opportunity to continue leading this great team into the future," Roberts said in a statement.

"To be able to wear the Dodgers uniform, and represent this world-class organisation on and off the field, is truly an honour.

"From the players to the front office staff, every single person affiliated with the club has played a vital role in the team's success throughout my tenure.

"I look forward to continuing our quest to be the best in baseball each and every year."

Roberts was named Dodgers manager in 2016 after only a single game in charge of the San Diego Padres as interim manager the previous season.

He was the National League Manager of the Year in his first season in LA, then led the Dodgers to the World Series in each of the next two years, losing to the Houston Astros and the Boston Red Sox.

Roberts had been a member of the Red Sox team that ended the Curse of the Bambino by winning the World Series in 2004.

And he finally delivered success for the Dodgers in 2020, beating the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2 for their first World Series title since 1988.

Roberts is targeting further glory this year, telling The Dan Patrick Show this week: "We are winning the World Series. That's our focus. That's our goal."

The 49-year-old has a 542-330 record as manager in the major leagues, his .622 winning percentage the best of anyone in National League or American League history and fifth all-time behind four Negro Leagues managers.

Five-time All-Star Freddie Freeman will leave the reigning world champion Atlanta Braves for the Los Angeles Dodgers on a bumper multi-year deal according to ESPN.

The 2020 National League (NL) MVP has agreed to a six-year, $162million deal with the Dodgers after reaching free agency for the first time in his career.

The 32-year-old has spent his whole professional career with the Braves dating back to 2007, before guiding them to their first World Series triumph since 1995 last year.

California-native Freeman hit .300 with 31 home runs, 83 RBIs and a NL-best 120 runs in their triumphant 2021 MLB season.

The Dodgers' blockbuster move for Freeman follows lucrative deals for Trevor Bauer in 2021 and Mookie Betts in 2020.

Freeman had rejected the Braves' qualifying offer after his contract expired following the World Series triumph, before becoming a free agent in November.

The Braves had signed Matt Olson earlier this week on an eight-year deal, making Freeman's exit more probable, with the Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees also pursuing him.

The Dodgers are yet to confirm the deal with the move subject to Freeman completing a physical.

"Did that really happen?" Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said on Thursday. "Once Atlanta made that deal for Olson, it kind of came to pass. We're a much better ball club today than we were yesterday."

Three-time Cy Young award winner and former NL MVP Clayton Kershaw has reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers worth $17million.

First reported by The Athletic, the deal means the future Hall of Famer – who turns 34 later this month – will return to the Dodgers for the 15th consecutive season, keeping Kershaw as a one-club player as he enters the tail-end of his prime years.

The deal is still pending a physical, which may play a factor if the elbow injury that forced Kershaw to miss the end of the 2021 season – including the postseason – remains an issue.

However, no team will have a better idea about the health of Kershaw than the Dodgers, suggesting it is exceedingly unlikely that anything would show up on the physical with the potential to torpedo the deal.

It was not a rushed decision from the Los Angeles ball club, as they opted not to tender Kershaw's $18.4m qualifying offer following the World Series, allowing more time to gather information and come to a decision.

 

Clayton Kershaw will "always have a spot" on the Dodgers if he wants to remain in Los Angeles next season, says team president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. 

Drafted out of high school by the Dodgers in 2006, Kershaw has spent his entire career with the franchise but is a free agent this offseason after the team declined to issue him a qualifying offer for 2022. 

That decision was not a surprise, as forearm problems caused Kershaw to miss more than two months during the regular season and the entire postseason. 

But Friedman told reporters on Tuesday that move should not be seen as a sign that the door is closed. 

"We've been very outspoken that we really want Kersh to come back, not only what he's meant to us looking back, but also what we think he will mean for us looking forward," Friedman said at the MLB general managers' meetings in California, via ESPN. 

"That being said - just like every free agent, but Kersh even a little bit more so - he has earned the right to be in this position and figure out what's best for him and his family.

"So there's like a personal and a professional tug of war for me. Professionally I really hope he's back, personally I want them to do what makes the most sense for their family, and we'll figure out what that means."

Kershaw wrapped up a three-year, $93million contract this season, and the Dallas-area native's hometown Texas Rangers are expected to make a strong push to sign him. 

The 33-year-old went 10-8 with a 3.55 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 121.2 innings this season, the ERA representing the second-worst of his career ahead of only a 4.26 as a rookie in 2008. 

Kershaw has a 185-84 career record with 2,670 strikeouts and a 2.49 ERA, winning three Cy Young Awards and eight All-Star selections along the way in addition to the 2014 National League MVP award. 

 

The Los Angeles Dodgers declined to extend a qualifying offer to Clayton Kershaw as the veteran ace prepares to enter free agency amid uncertainty over his MLB future.

Kershaw, who did not pitch in the MLB playoffs as the Dodgers lost to the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series (NLCS) due to the recurrence of a forearm problem, has spent his entire 14-year career in Los Angeles.

The World Series champion and three-time Cy Young Award winner is a free agent following the conclusion of his three-year, $93million contract with the Dodgers.

While the Dodgers lodged offers to free agent All-Stars Corey Seager and Chris Taylor prior to Sunday's deadline – worth $18.4m for one year – there was none forthcoming for future Hall of Famer Kershaw.

However, the Dodgers are reportedly still keen on bringing Kershaw back to LA for at least one more season as both parties take time to determine the 33-year-old's health.

Kershaw – an eight-time All-Star and 2014 NL MVP – made his debut for the Dodgers in 2008.

In 2021, Kershaw finished with a 3.55 ERA, the worst of his illustrious career since his rookie year (4.26) with the Dodgers.

Kershaw had a 10-8 record this season with 144 strikeouts in 121.2 innings pitched.

Overall, Kershaw has a 185-84 win-loss record with 2,670 strikeouts and a career 2.49 ERA.

As the National League Championship Series unfolded, it became clear to the Los Angeles Dodgers that they had to find a way to stop Eddie Rosario. 

Maybe that would have happened if the series had gone seven games, but Rosario made sure it did not, hitting his third home run of the NLCS to give the Atlanta Braves a 4-2 win Saturday and secure MVP honours. 

As the Braves advance to their first World Series since 1999, they can thank a man who did not make his first start for Atlanta until August 29 but has become indispensable. 

Rosario went 14 for 25 in the series for a staggering .560 batting average, driving in nine runs and scoring six himself. 

"We just couldn't figure him out," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. "He beat us the other way. He beat us to the pull side. He got hits off lefties, off righties. We tried to spin him. We went hard.

"We just didn't have an answer for him and when you've got that big guy [Freddie Freeman] looming behind him it's just kind of tough to pitch around him, who was clearly hot. But, yeah, we just didn't have an answer for him."

Rosario tied an MLB record for the most hits in a postseason series, but he could lay claim to owning it outright.

The four men he shares the mark with – Marco Scutaro (2012 NLCS), Kevin Youkilis (2007 ALCS), Albert Pujols (2004 NLCS) and Hideki Matsui (2004 ALCS) – all needed seven games to reach 14 hits. 

"It's just amazing how locked-in he is," Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Rosario. "It's been something else."

Atlanta acquired Rosario from the Cleveland Indians on July 30, just under three weeks after losing star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. for the season with a knee injury, but they knew they would have to wait for the newcomer to join the lineup. 

Rosario had been out since July 5 with an abdominal strain and would not become a regular fixture in the Braves lineup until mid-September, but no one is taking him out now. 

Though the 30-year-old has postseason experience from his time with the Minnesota Twins, he has never experienced anything like the last week or so. 

"This is obviously my greatest accomplishment of my career so far, this [MVP] trophy and this award, so it's something to definitely be proud of," Rosario said. 

"It's truly a great moment, not just in my career, but in my life as well, but I want more. I want to win the World Series."

The Atlanta Braves are headed to the World Series for the first time since 1999 after their hottest hitter led them past the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series. 

Eddie Rosario's two-out, three-run homer off Walker Buehler in the fourth inning proved the difference for Atlanta, who ended the Dodgers' hopes of second successive title after Los Angeles won 106 games to Atlanta's 88 during the regular season. 

It was sweet revenge for the Braves after they blew a 3-1 series lead against the Dodgers in last year's NLCS. Los Angeles had won seven straight postseason elimination games before Saturday, four of them against the Braves. 

Austin Riley drove in the other Atlanta run with a first-inning double that scored Ozzie Albies and the Braves left the rest to their pitching staff. 

Starter Ian Anderson worked four strong innings but Atlanta manager Brian Snitker pinch-hit for him as part of the sequence that led to Rosario's game-changing homer. 

Relievers AJ Minter and Tyler Matzek did their part with two perfect innings each, striking out eight total batters around another rough outing from Luke Jackson, who allowed an A.J. Pollock RBI single in the seventh. 

Will Smith came on to close it out in the ninth before a roaring sellout crowd of 43,060 at Truist Park, where the Braves have won 10 of their last 11 games, and got Pollock to ground out to shortstop Dansby Swanson for the final out. 

Atlanta will face the American League champion Houston Astros for the title, with Game 1 set for Tuesday at Minute Maid Park. 

The Braves were swept by the New York Yankees in their last World Series appearance 22 years ago, a disappointment that came four years after the franchise won its only title in 1995. 

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts labelled Chris Taylor "remarkable" and in an "elite class" after his three home-run display in their National League Championship Series (NLCS) Game 5 win over the Atlanta Braves.

Taylor joined Enrique Hernandez as the only Dodgers player ever to have a three-homer postseason game as they won 11-2 over the Braves to avoid elimination.

The victory sees the World Series champions pull the NLCS back to 3-2 but Taylor's hitting was all the talk as he became only the fifth player with a three-or-more homer and four-or-more hit postseason game.

"He's in an elite class of very few. When you're talking about Gil Hodges and Duke Snider who didn’t do it, it's pretty remarkable," Roberts said during a news conference after the win.

"He's one of the best I've seen at just being in the moment. When his career is over, he can look back and appreciate that.

"For me being a Chris Taylor fan and seeing he's a part of history now, it's pretty remarkable. He just does things the right way."

Taylor received a curtain call from the fans at Dodgers Stadium, as they turned around an early 2-0 deficit, piling on 11 unanswered runs.

A.J. Pollock also hit two home runs but was overshadowed by Taylor who finished the game with four hits from five at-bats and six RBIs.

"That was my first one [curtain call]," Taylor said. "Anytime you do something cool, when you do it at Dodgers Stadium it makes it that much sweeter.

"This is a special place. These fans are awesome. For that to happen for the first time on this stage in front of this crowd was a special moment.

"Mechanically I'm in a good place. Once you get a couple of hits and the confidence is there, that's when everything comes together."

The Dodgers become the third team in postseason history to have two players with a multi-home run game in the same postseason encounter. They also set a new franchise record for hits in a postseason game with 17, tying their postseason home-run record of five.

In bad news for the Dodgers, Roberts revealed starting pitcher Joe Kelly would likely not return this season after sustaining a biceps injury in the first inning.

"It's a bicep strain and we're going to continue to evaluate but the way it reads right now, that'll be it for the rest of the season for him," Roberts said.

Chris Taylor made history by homering three times to keep the Los Angeles Dodgers alive in the National League Championship Series (NLCS) with an 11-2 win over the Atlanta Braves on Thursday.

Facing elimination at 3-1 down in the NLCS, the World Series champions trailed 2-0 early before 11 unanswered runs headlined by Taylor's trio of home runs, going four-from-five for the game with six RBIs.

Taylor joined Enrique Hernandez as the only Dodgers player to ever have a three-homer postseason game. The 31-year-old moves to an equal-postseason high 12 RBIs, along with four home runs and 12 hits. All four of Taylor's home runs have come in games when the Dodgers were facing elimination.

A.J. Pollock also finished the game with two home runs, including an eighth-inning three-run blast, going three-from-five.

The Dodgers become the third team in postseason history to have two players with a multi-home run game in the same postseason game. They also set a new franchise record for hits in a postseason game with 17, tying their postseason home-run record of five.

The Braves threatened to run away with the series after Freddie Freeman's first-inning two-run blast with Dodgers starting pitcher Joe Kelly withdrawn soon after.

But LA responded with home runs from Pollock and Taylor in the third inning from Max Fried to claim the lead.

Taylor extended the Dodgers lead with a two-run home run in the sixth inning, adding a third homer in the seventh inning to open up a 7-2 lead.

Pollock put the icing on the cake in the eighth inning, before Kenley Jansen closed it out.

The Dodgers had trailed the Braves 3-1 in last season's NLCS, before triumphing in the next three games and ultimately winning the World Series.

 

Red Sox at Astros

The Houston Astros can secure their spot in the World Series for the third time in five years when they host the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series leading 3-2.

Former World Series champion Jorge Soler has been cleared to return for the Atlanta Braves ahead of Game 5 of the National League Championship Series (NLCS) against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday.

The Braves opened up a 3-1 NLCS lead with Wednesday's 9-2 victory, leaving the World Series champions needing to win three elimination games to progress.

Soler has been absent for the Braves after testing positive to COVID-19 during their National League Division Series against the Milwaukee Brewers.

The 2019 American League run leader hit .269 with 14 home runs and 33 RBIs across 55 games for Atlanta after his trade deadline deal from the Kansas City Royals.

"He's been working out on his own," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "I think he's good to go. That's a great weapon off the bench right there."

The Dodgers have lost third baseman Justin Turner to a hamstring injury, with Andy Burns added to their roster to replace him.

Turner hit .278 with 27 home runs, 87 RBIs and 148 hits across the regular season.

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has revealed his misfiring offense has been dealt another blow in the National League Championship Series (NLCS) with Justin Turner ruled out for the postseason.

The Dodgers were beaten 9-2 by the Atlanta Braves, who took a 3-1 lead in the NLCS, meaning the World Series champions will need to three elimination games to progress.

LA only managed four hits for the game, with their only runs coming from A.J. Pollock's fifth inning two-run single. The Dodgers also only managed four hits in the 5-4 loss to the Braves in Game 2.

Turner, who hit at .278 with 27 home runs, 87 RBIs and 148 hits across the regular season, also limped out of Game 4 with a hamstring injury when running to first base in the seventh inning in a further blow.

"Early indications is it's a grade two [hamstring]. I think that'll be it for him," Roberts said during the post-game news conference. "Obviously he's very disappointed.

"We're talking through [his replacement] right now. It'll be a position player but not sure who."

Roberts had no answers when asked to explain his side's inconsistent offensive performance throughout the series, needing Cody Bellinger's miraculous eighth-inning three-run blast to rescue a 6-5 victory in Game 3.

"That's a very fair question," Roberts said when asked about the inconsistency. "I know it's not from a lack of work or preparation, so the last part is execution.

"I just don’t have an answer. Every time I write the lineup out, I feel very good, but it just hasn’t been as consistent as anyone expected… We've got to change that. I wish I had an answer."

Thursday's Game 5 will represent the fourth game this postseason that the Dodgers have faced elimination.

The Dodgers also trailed the Braves 3-1 in last year's NLCS, before storming back to win the next three games and the World Series, offering Roberts hope.

"You never want to have your back against the wall, that's not how you draw it up," he said. "We have a very resilient team, a very tough team.

"It's not going to get much tougher than facing Max Fried in an elimination game but we've done it before. We've got to win tomorrow and I believe we're equipped to win tomorrow's ball game."

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