Mark Buehrle throws two-hitter for ninth career shutout

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Mark Buehrle almost single-handedly snapped the Blue Jays’ seven-game losing streak on Thursday, throwing a two-hitter against the Astros for his ninth career shutout.

Buehrle’s previous two shutouts were his two no-hitters, the first against the Rangers on 2007 and the other being a perfect game against the Rays in 2009. He hadn’t thrown a shutout that wasn’t a no-hitter since 2005.

Buehrle, never a big strikeout guy, also fanned nine for just the third time in his stellar career. He struck out 12 Mariners on April 16, 2005, but that was his only double-digit strikeout game. He also had nine strikeouts way back on June 26, 2003 against the Twins.

Buehrle said afterwards that he was inspired to have a quick outing tonight  (the contest took just 2:18); he was slated to attend a Tim McGraw concert following the game.

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.