Baseball: Win over Cubs puts Dodgers on brink of World Series berth

Kyle Schwarber of the Chicago Cubs hits a home run in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game three of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on October 17, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 18 October 2017
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Baseball: Win over Cubs puts Dodgers on brink of World Series berth

CHICAGO: Chris Taylor homered and drove in two runs, and Yu Darvish pitched six-plus strong innings Tuesday as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 6-1 to move within one win of a World Series return.
The Dodgers, whose 1988 championship marked their last appearance in Major League Baseball’s title showcase, took a commanding 3-0 lead over the reigning World Series champion Cubs in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series.
They’ll try to complete the sweep on Wednesday in Chicago.
Darvish struck out seven and scattered six hits and walked just one over 6 1/3 innings. He also drove in a run when he drew a bases-loaded walk in the sixth frame.
“The story of the night, obviously, is Yu Darvish,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “After that first homer that he gave up ... he was dominant. He just had that rhythm, the poise and didn’t allow whole lot of hard contact.”
The Cubs, who hadn’t managed a hit off the Dodgers bullpen in the series, put runners on second and third in the ninth inning when Alex Avila singled and Albert Almora followed with a double off of right-handed relief pitcher Ross Stripling.
But Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen got Addison Russell to pop out to first, and then struck out Tommy La Stella and Ian Happ to close out the victory.
The Cubs seized an early lead for the third straight game when Kyle Schwarber homered off of Darvish with one out in the first inning.
The Cubs got hits from three of their first five batters, but couldn’t add to their lead and stranded two runners on base after Schwarber’s home run.
“I really didn’t change much approach-wise from first inning until the end of the game,” Darvish said. “I just kept pitching the same way.”
The Dodgers responded in the second inning. Andre Ethier pulled them level with a solo homer on the first pitch he saw from Kyle Hendricks.
Taylor broke the 1-1 tie in the third inning with a 444-foot solo home run to center field.
Hendricks, who struggled with his command, allowed at least two home runs for the second consecutive post-season start.
Taylor put the Dodgers up 3-1 with a fifth-inning run-scoring triple that scored Joc Pederson, who led off the inning with a double.
The Dodgers loaded the bases in the sixth and after getting Pederson to fly out for the second out of the inning, Cubs reliever Carl Edwards walked Darvish on four pitches to extend the Dodgers’ lead to 4-1.
Los Angeles tacked on two runs in the eighth. After a walk to Logan Forsythe and a Barnes single, Forsythe scored when reliever Mike Montgomery’s pitch bounced off the arm of catcher Willson Contreras. Barnes reached third base and then scored on Kyle Farmer’s sacrifice fly.
The winner of the series will face either the New York Yankees or Houston Astros in the World Series starting next Tuesday.
The Yankees and Astros were tied 2-2 in their American League Championship Series after New York’s 6-4 home win on Tuesday.
Taylor said the Dodgers weren’t thinking World Series just yet.
“Obviously we’re excited to be up 3-0, but honestly, we’ve just been taking it one game at a time and just focusing on getting one win,” he said. “So we’ll come in with the same mindset and focus on getting that one win.”


Joe Root’s century seals England series win over India, maintains No. 1 ODI ranking

Updated 7 min 13 sec ago
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Joe Root’s century seals England series win over India, maintains No. 1 ODI ranking

  • This was Root’s second unbeaten century in successive innings
  • Joe Root became England’s leading one-day international century-maker

LEEDS: Joe Root became England’s leading one-day international century-maker as an innings of exactly 100 not out on his Headingley home ground saw the hosts to an eight-wicket victory over India on Tuesday and a 2-1 series win.
This was Root’s second unbeaten century in successive innings after his 113 not out helped England level the three-match contest with an 86-run win at Lord’s on Saturday.
This latest hundred was also Test skipper Root’s 13th in ODIs, taking him past the England record of 12 he had previously shared with Marcus Trescothick.
Tuesday saw Root and one-day captain Eoin Morgan (88 not out) share an unbroken third-wicket stand of 186 as England, first in the ODI rankings to their opponents’ second, ended India’s run of nine straight bilateral series wins in style.
England, who will be bidding to win the World Cup for the first time when they stage next year’s edition, had said they would treat Tuesday’s match as a dress rehearsal for a winner-takes-all game at the showpiece tournament.
And that made the comprehensive manner of their victory all the more satisfying for Morgan’s men.
It was England’s bowlers who set up this win, with Adil Rashid and David Willey, two of the five Yorkshire cricketers in their XI, taking three wickets apiece.
But, after left-arm quick Willey had kept things tight early on, it was leg-spinner Rashid who did significant damage by taking two wickets in an over.
He bowled India captain and star batsman Virat Kohli (71), as well as dismissing Suresh Raina, on his way to three for 49 in a maximum 10 overs.
Willey, who took three for 40 in nine overs, received excellent new-ball support from Durham quick Mark Wood (one for 30).
Root, who was dropped from the final match of England’s preceding 2-1 Twenty20 series loss, told Sky Sports: “It feels fantastic.
“To come into a big series like this and perform how we have as a side is great.”
Morgan added: “I think we were outstanding. I think the tone was set by the bowlers early on, David Willey and Mark Wood were on the money. From that point there was no let up.”
Meanwhile Kohli accepted his side had been outplayed.
“I thought we were never on the mark as far as runs on the board were concerned, we were 25-30 short, and England were really clinical with the bat and in the field as well,” he said.
After Morgan won the toss, Rohit Sharma, who scored a superb century during India’s eight-wicket win in the series-opener at Trent Bridge, struggled to make two off 18 balls, his innings ending when he flicked Willey to Wood at deep square leg.
Opening partner Shikhar Dhawan made a fluent 44 before was run out by Stokes’s direct hit.
Dinesh Karthik, preferred to KL Rahul for this match, then made 21 before he was bowled between bat and pad by Rashid.
Kohli pressed on, however, completing a 55-ball fifty before Rashid struck twice in six balls as India slumped to 158 for five.
He bowled Kohli with a superb leg-break and had Raina caught low at leg-slip by Root.
James Vince, called up in place of the injured Jason Roy cut the first ball of England’s reply, from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, for four.
Vince’s frustrating England career has seen him repeatedly get out on Tuesday he fell for a run-a-ball 27, although it needed a brilliant one-handed take by wicket-keeper Dhoni, from Hardik Pandya’s throw, to run him out.
But by then England were 74 for two inside 10 overs, well above the required run-rate.
Root, stumped off a Yuzvendra Chahal no-ball on 69, went to his century when he pulled Pandya through midwicket for his 10th four in 120 balls as England won with 33 deliveries to spare.
An elated Root celebrated by dropping his bat to the ground — the ‘mic drop’ gesture more associated with rock stars and stand-up comedians than cricketers.