NLCS Game 5 Live Blog: Brewers vs. Cardinals

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11:15: It’s all over, as Craig Counsell pops out to Daniel Descalso at third base for the final out of the ballgame. The Cardinals win 7-1 and take a 3-2 lead in the NLCS. The series will resume Sunday in Milwaukee.

11:14: A little confusion in shallow left center, but Jon Jay catches a pop fly off the bat of Taylor Green for the second out.

11:12: “First ball swinging Yuni Betancourt” – Ah, everything is back to normal. Betancourt flies out to center field. One away.

11:07: Matt Holliday knocks in two runs with a double to left, extending the Cardinals’ lead to 7-1. They are three outs away from a 3-2 lead in the series.

11:02: Marco Estrada commits the Brewers’ fourth error of the game on a pickoff attempt at first base. Jon Jay ends up at second base on the errant throw.

10:58: Things are looking good for St. Louis at the moment, but this could potentially be Albert Pujols’ last home at-bat as a member of the Cardinals. Crowd gives him a nice hand.

10:52: Rickie Weeks grounds out to end the top of the eighth inning. Another scoring opportunity turned aside by the Cardinals’ bullpen.

10:48: Rzepczynski gets Fielder swinging for the second out. Huge out. Closer Jason Motte is coming in to face Rickie Weeks.

10:43: Braun grounds into a force out, as Rafael Furcal made an awkward play to cut down Hairston at second base. Marc Rzepczynski (no idea if I’m spelling that right) will come in to face Prince Fielder with runners at the corners.

10:40: Things are getting interesting here in the top of the eighth, as Lance Lynn walks Hairston. Runners on first and second with nobody out for Ryan Braun.

10:38: Corey Hart reaches with a leadoff single, his third hit of the night.

10:34: Lynn works the count full, but strikes out looking for the final out of the inning. It’s 5-1 Cardinals as we move to the top of the eighth inning.

10:31: After Kameron Loe induced a double play ground ball, he allowed a single to Yadier Molina and walked Nick Punto. Two away for Lance Lynn. Interesting that La Russa sticks with him as they have a chance to tack on some insurance runs, but everything he touches is turning to gold tonight.

10:23: Nyjer Morgan grounds into an inning-ending double play, much to the delight of the Busch Stadium faithful.

10:15: Chris Narveson, who replaced Greinke, just got Lance Berkman to ground out for the final out of the sixth. Didn’t see a replay, but it looked like Prince Fielder may have taken his foot off the first base bag before he caught the throw from Jerry Hairston, Jr. Anyway, it’s 5-1 Cardinals entering the seventh.

10:11: Pujols capitalizes on the error by Betancourt, delivering an RBI single to give the Cardinals a 5-1 lead. Greinke is done.

Greinke didn’t pitch well — in fact, he failed to strike out any of the 30 batters he faced tonight — but his defense didn’t do him any favors, either.

10:08: After a two-out double by Rafael Furcal, Yuniesky Betancourt boots a ground ball for the Brewers’ third error of the game. Two on for Albert Pujols. Yeesh.

10:01: Octavio Dotel, who struck out Braun to end the fifth inning, retires the Brewers in order in the top of the sixth.

9:54: Greinke wiggles his way out of the bases loaded jam, getting Molina to fly out to center fielder Carlos Gomez for the final out of the inning. The score remains 4-1 in favor of the Cardinals as we move to the sixth.

9:51: Freese walks, loading the bases for Yadier Molina. Greinke is on the ropes here as pitching coach Rick Kranitz visits the mound and Kameron Loe gets loose in the bullpen.

9:48: Yuniesky Betancourt saves a run with a diving stop, but is unable to get Matt Holliday at first base. First and third with two out for David Freese.

9:43: Rickie Weeks is charged with an error after making a horrible throw on a ground ball off the bat off Albert Pujols, who advances to second base on the play.

9:38: La Russa does it again. Dotel gets Braun swinging to end the top of the fifth as the Cards keep the Brewers off the board.

9:32: Quick hook, as Garcia is done after 4 2/3 innings. Dotel will pitch against Braun. La Russa’d.

9:31: Hairston follows with a single to left. Two on and two out for Ryan Braun while Octavio Dotel throws in the bullpen for St. Louis.

9:29: Hart gets the Brewers on the board with an RBI single to left. It’s now 4-1 Cardinals.

9:25: Greinke bunts Jonathan Lucroy over to second base. Two away for Corey Hart.

9:19: Carlos Gomez saves a run with a diving catch in center field, robbing Rafael Furcal of a hit. It’s 4-0 Cardinals as we move to the fifth in St. Louis.

9:16: And it works out. Garcia hit a ground ball to Yuniesky Betancourt, but he had no shot to cut down David Freese at home plate. Garcia gives the Cardinals a 4-0 lead with the RBI groundout.

9:14: You don’t see this often. The eighth place hitter Nick Punto bunts the runners over for the pitcher Jaime Garcia. Interesting choice by Tony La Russa.

9:13: Yadier Molina dumps a single off Rickie Weeks’ glove in shallow center field. Runners on first and second with nobody out for Nick Punto.

9:11: David Freese just keeps hitting. After getting hit by a pitch in the bottom of the second inning, he just lined a single to right field to lead off the bottom of the fourth.

9:07: Garcia sits the Brewers down in order in the top of the fourth.

9:05: Big, orange and fall of hot air = Boog Sciambi. Burn, John Smoltz. Burn.

9:02: Greinke works around a walk to Albert Pujols to pitch a scoreless third. It’s 3-0 Cardinals as we move to the top of the fourth.

8:56: Rafael Betancourt follows Albert Pujols with a fine over the shoulder catch of his own. Of course he does.

8:54: Albert Pujols makes a fantastic over the shoulder grab on a foul ball along the first base line to end the threat. This guy is good at baseball.

8:52: Hairston strikes out swinging. Two away for Ryan Braun. Does he get anything to hit here?

8:50: Corey Hart singles, moving Greinke over to third base. Here comes Jerry Hairston Jr. with a chance to redeem himself.

8:47: Zack Greinke reaches with a one-out single. Didn’t see a beastmode this time.

8:43: Furcal grounds out for the final out of the bottom of the second inning, but the Cardinals put a three-spot on the board.

8:41: Oh boy. Garcia hits one right between the legs of Hairston, scoring two runs. It’s now 3-0 Cardinals. After the play, a frustrated Greinke threw the baseball into the ground and it came up and hit him in the neck. Garcia remained at first base, however.

8:40: Jerry Hairston Jr. just robbed Nick Putno of an RBI single with a diving stop at third base. Two away for Jamie Garcia.

8:37: Molina drives one just over the outstretched glove of Corey Hart for an RBI double. He narrowly missed a three-run homer. It’s now 1-0 Cards with runners on second and third for Nick Punto.

8:35: Greinke hits the hot-hitting David Freese. Runners on first and second with one out for Yadier Molina.

8:33: Berkman, who didn’t start Game 4, hits a leadoff single against Greinke in the bottom of the second inning. First hit of the night for the Cards.

8:28: Gomez was on the move and got picked off by Jamie Garcia to end the top of the second inning. He was 16-for-18 in stolen base attempts during the regular season.

8:25: Carlos Gomez, who is making the start in center field against the southpaw, dunks a two-out single into left field.

8:19: Albert Pujols hit a ground ball right up the middle, but the Brewers had him positioned perfectly. Zack Greinke retires the Cardinals in order in the bottom of the first.

8:16: Rafael Furcal lines out to Corey Hart in right field for the first out in the bottom of the first.

8:13: Garcia fans Prince Fielder for the final out in the top of the first inning, stranding Braun at second base.

8:10: Ryan Braun smacks a two-out double down the third base line. He is now batting .486 (17-for-35) during the postseason.

8:07: Garcia strikes out Hart swinging to get us started.

8:06: And we’re off! Jaime Garcia delivers a first-pitch strike to Corey Hart.

7:45 p.m. ET: The Brewers and Cardinals are all tied up at 2-2 going into Game 5 of the NLCS tonight at Busch Stadium. We’ll have it all covered in a live blog, beginning right around first-pitch at 8:05 p.m. ET.

Here are tonight’s lineups, as mentioned by Aaron earlier this afternoon:

MILWAUKEE BREWERS ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

1. Corey Hart, RF               1. Rafael Furcal, SS
2. Jerry Hairston, 3B           2. Jon Jay, CF
3. Ryan Braun, LF               3. Albert Pujols, 1B
4. Prince Fielder, 1B           4. Lance Berkman, RF
5. Rickie Weeks, 2B             5. Matt Holliday, LF
6. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS      6. David Freese, 3B
7. Carlos Gomez, CF             7. Yadier Molina, C
8. Jonathan Lucroy, C           8. Nick Punto, 2B

SP Zack Greinke, RHP            SP Jaime Garcia, LHP

Feel free to join the conversation in our comments section.

Dodgers clinch NL’s top seed, West title with win over A’s

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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Wrapping up an NL West title has become routine for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but in a year in which no one was sure three months ago if there would be a baseball season, manager Dave Roberts wanted his team to still savor the moment.

The Dodgers clinched the NL’s top postseason seed and eighth straight division title Tuesday night with a 7-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics. They are third team to win at least eight straight division titles, joining the Atlanta Braves (14 straight from 1991-2005) and New York Yankees (nine straight from 1998-2006).

“To fast forward a couple months and be crowned NL West champs is a credit to everyone. It should never be taken for granted,” Roberts said. “Truth be told a lot of guys didn’t know we could clinch. We were responsible but I let it know that it has to be appreciated.”

The Dodgers, who own the best record in the majors at 39-16, were the first team in the majors to clinch a playoff berth on Sept. 16. They will open postseason play on Sept. 30 by hosting every game in a best-of-three series against the No. 8 seed.

Los Angeles came into the day with a magic number of two and got help with the Angels’ 4-2 victory over the San Diego Padres.

Instead of a wild celebration on the mound after Jake McGee struck out Sean Murphy for the final out, players briskly walked out of the dugout to celebrate with teammates. Everyone grabbed a division clinching shirt and cap before heading to the mound for a group photo.

The clubhouse celebration was also muted. Champagne was still involved, but it was players toasting each other with a glass instead of being showered in it.

“We talked about it instead of dumping stuff on people. It’s a moment you need to celebrate and we did,” said Corey Seager, who had three hits and one of Los Angeles’ four home runs, “It stinks not being able to do champagne and beer showers because some of the younger guys haven’t been able to experience that.”

Max Muncy, Chris Taylor and AJ Pollock also went deep for Los Angeles, which leads the majors with 104 home runs.

“This whole year has been weird. There’s no other way to describe it,” Muncy said. “It’s sad not to be celebrate as usual but we know there is a lot more at stake.”

Dustin May (2-1) went five innings and allowed two runs on three hits. The 22-year-old red-headed righty set a team record by not allowing more than three earned runs in his first 13 career starts, which include 10 this season.

Robbie Grossman homered for Oakland, which clinched its first AL West crown in seven years on Monday during a day off. The Athletics, in the postseason for the third straight year, currently are the AL’s No. 3 seed.

Mark Canha had two of Oakland’s five hits.

Seager tied it at 1 in the first with an RBI single and then led off the fifth with a drive to center off T.J. McFarland to extend LA’s lead to 6-2.

Muncy gave the Dodgers a 3-2 lead in the third inning with a two-run homer. Taylor and Pollock extended it with solo shots in the fourth off Oakland starter Frankie Montas (3-5).

Grossman quickly gave Oakland a 1-0 lead when he homered off the left-field pole in the first inning. Sean Murphy briefly gave the Athletics a 2-1 advantage when he led off the third with a walk and scored on a wild pitch by May with two outs.

Montas, who allowed only four home runs in his first seven starts, has given up six in his past three. The right-hander went four innings and yielded five runs on seven hits with a walk and three strikeouts.

“They’re a pretty good team that when you make mistakes, they make you pay,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “They’re pretty good laying off and making you throw it over the plate. They made Montas pay, unfortunately.”

Cody Bellinger added two hits for the Dodgers, including an RBI single with the bases loaded in the seventh.

ATHLETICS ADVANCE

The A’s have a team text thread they used to celebrate clinching their first AL West title since 2013 during their off day Monday, when the Mariners beat Houston.

“We didn’t really celebrate too much yet. It’s exciting,” Chad Pinder said. “We wanted to do it on our own terms. We still won the division and that was our goal. It’s nice to know we’ll be playing home for the series.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Athletics: INF/OF Pinder (strained right hamstring) planned to run at Dodger Stadium and test his leg with hopes of still playing before the conclusion of the regular season. …. RHP Daniel Mengden has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Las Vegas. He was designated for assignment after being medically cleared and reinstated from the COVID-19 injured list following a positive test from Aug. 28.

Dodgers: 3B Justin Turner was scratched from the lineup less than an hour before first pitch due to left hamstring discomfort He came off the injured list on Sept. 15 and has not played in the field since Aug. 28. … Joc Pederson was in the lineup at DH after missing five games while on the family emergency medical list. Roberts said before the game that he wasn’t sure if Pederson will remain with the team during the entire postseason.

UP NEXT

Athletics: LHP Sean Manaea (4-3, 4.50) is 4-1 with a 2.25 ERA over his last five starts dating to Aug. 20.

Dodgers: LHP Julio Urias (3-0, 3.49) will make his team-leading 11th start.

AP Baseball Writer Janie McCauley in San Francisco contributed to this story.

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports