Derek Lowe becomes first pitcher to throw a shutout without a strikeout since 2002

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Derek Lowe came into today’s start with a 5-1 record and 2.47 ERA despite totaling just 13 strikeouts in 44 innings, but what he did this afternoon is even more remarkable.

Lowe tossed a complete-game shutout against the punchless Twins and did so without recording a strikeout. The last pitcher to throw a shutout without a strikeout? Scott Erickson way back in 2002.

He pitched well, of course, but the Twins’ lineup is brutally bad at this point and Minnesota is particularly inept versus ground-ball pitchers. Lowe has long been one of the majors’ most extreme ground-ball pitchers and today he induced an incredible 20 ground-ball outs, including four double plays.

For the season he’s now 6-1 with a 2.05 ERA … and more walks (17) than strikeouts (13) in 53 innings.

Video: Albert Almora, Jr. saved by the ivy

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The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.

After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.

Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.

Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.