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Kyle Hendricks leads Cubs with a 3-0 shutout over the Nationals for a 1-0 lead in NLDS

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In a postseason that’s been woefully short on strong starts and stellar pitching, Kyle Hendricks delivered one of his best starts of the year. The Cubs’ right-hander went seven solid innings in Friday’s 3-0 win over the Nationals, securing a 1-0 advantage in the NLDS with seven innings of two-hit, six-strikeout ball.

Despite working into a couple jams in the first two innings, Hendricks recovered with a pair of inning-ending outs and kept the Nationals’ baserunners from advancing past second base. Things didn’t go quite as smoothly for the Nats’ Stephen Strasburg, who allowed two runs — both RBI singles from Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo — after hurling 5 2/3 innings of no-hit ball to start the game.

Following Rizzo’s RBI hit in the sixth, Strasburg handed the ball to Ryan Madson, who allowed the Cubs to tack on an extra insurance run with Rizzo’s RBI double in the eighth. The Nationals, meanwhile, couldn’t get a break at the plate. Far from the 4.83 run support average they used to back Strasburg with in the regular season, they failed to reach base even once against the Cubs’ bullpen.

Carl Edwards Jr. needed just 11 pitches to cruise through a scoreless eighth, retiring Trea Turner on a four-pitch strikeout, inducing a first-pitch pop-out from Bryce Harper and flummoxing Anthony Rendon with six straight fastballs for an inning-ending strikeout. Wade Davis was just as efficient in the ninth, utilizing another 11 pitches to retire Daniel Murphy, Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth and seal the Cubs’ shutout.

The Cubs will head off Game 2 of the series on Saturday at 5:30 PM ET. Lefties Jon Lester (13-8, 4.33 ERA) and Gio Gonzalez (15-9, 2.96 ERA) will square off for another contest at Nationals Park before the series moves to Wrigley Field on Monday.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

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There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).