MLB Playoff Roundup |

MLB Playoff Roundup

CHICAGO ” Manny Ramirez and Joe Torre brought their winning postseason ways to the Los Angeles Dodgers ” and Wrigley Field.

James Loney hit a go-ahead grand slam off a wild Ryan Dempster, Ramirez and Russell Martin homered and the new-look Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 7-2 in their NL playoff opener Wednesday night.

The Cubs entered the postseason with the best record in league, hoping for a fast start 100 years after their last World Series championship.

But Ramirez and Torre, winners of six World Series crowns in the AL, wound up on top in their first playoff game together. Ramirez’s homer was his 25th in the postseason, extending his own record.

“We get a sense of what he’s been doing all these years,” Loney said.

It was a good omen for the Dodgers. The last time they started a postseason series with a victory was 1988 ” the Kirk Gibson game in the World Series.

The Cubs will try to get even in Game 2 on Thursday night when they send mercurial right-hander Carlos Zambrano against Chad Billingsley.

“Let’s hope we get better,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. “Let’s put this one behind us and go get them tomorrow.”

Torre made his 13th straight postseason managerial appearance ” the previous 12 were with the Yankees ” and extended his record for postseason wins to 77 in a matchup with Piniella, another veteran skipper.

The Cubs took a 2-0 lead on Mark DeRosa’s homer in the second inning off Derek Lowe, but the Dodgers rebounded against Dempster, who had trouble finding the strike zone all night.

Dempster walked the bases loaded in the fifth, and Loney delivered for the Dodgers.

After swinging and missing the first two pitches, he sent a 1-2 pitch over the wall in center for the grand slam that gave the Dodgers a 4-2 lead and silenced a Wrigley Field crowd that was cheering loudly for Dempster to get out of the jam he created.

PHILADELPHIA ” These were the Bumbling Brewers.

A bobbled bunt. A dropped throw. A misplay by center fielder Mike Cameron, just when he needed one of those dazzling catches that earned him three Gold Gloves.

All in the same inning, too, and they doomed the Brewers in a 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 1 of their NL playoff series Wednesday.

No Happy Days for Milwaukee, for sure, in the Brewers’ first postseason appearance since 1982.

“It was an unfortunate kind of hiccup right there,” Brewers manager Dale Sveum said.

This was the kind of meek defensive effort that a veteran pitcher would’ve had a hard time escaping. The extra baserunners proved too much for 22-year-old Yovani Gallardo in only his second start since May. It was scoreless in the third inning when Philadelphia’s Carlos Ruiz hit a leadoff single. Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels followed with a sacrifice bunt that went right at third baseman Bill Hall, who could have easily thrown out Ruiz at second.

Instead, Hall fumbled the slick ball. Worse for the Brewers, second baseman Rickie Weeks dropped a routine throw for an error while covering first.

Gallardo nearly pitched out of the jam, retiring Jimmy Rollins on a flyout and striking out Jayson Werth.

Chase Utley then hit a deep drive and the whipping winds appeared to confuse Cameron. The normally steady center fielder sprinted to his right before veering back, and the ball slipped out of his backhanded stab.

Cameron tumbled to the wet grass while Ruiz and Hamels dashed home on the two-run double.

“When I landed, it came out,” Cameron said. “That doesn’t normally happen too often.”

Cameron said he felt like he was playing an early-season game in Wrigley Field, where even the most routine balls dart in an unpredictable wind as if they were knuckleballs.

“If I made the play, it’s a great play,” Cameron said. “All the other factors are just part of the game.”

The Phillies made it 3-0 later in the inning when Gallardo walked Shane Victorino with the bases loaded.

All three runs were unearned in a tough postseason debut for Gallardo ” only the second pitcher in major league history to start a postseason game without recording a win that year.

ANAHEIM, Calif. ” No matter how much the Los Angeles Angels dominate Boston in the regular season, the Red Sox roll in October.

Jason Bay hit a go-ahead, two-run homer off John Lackey in the sixth inning, and the World Series champions beat the Angels 4-1 Wednesday night in the opener of their AL playoff series.

Acquired in the three-team trade that sent Manny Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Bay brought Boston back from a 1-0 deficit in the first postseason game of his career, and the Red Sox got a big start from John Lester (1-0), who allowed only an unearned run in seven innings.

“It’s big. Any time you can come into another team’s ballpark and win is huge,” Lester said.

Los Angeles won eight of nine regular-season games between the teams this year, outscoring the Red Sox 42-17 in the final six. But the Red Sox have won 10 straight postseason games against the Angeles dating to 1986, including first-round sweeps in 2004 and 2007 en route to World Series titles.

Boston tied a major league record for consecutive postseason wins over the same opponent, a mark Oakland set against the Red Sox from


The Angels will try to draw even Friday night in Game 2 of the best-of-five series, with Ervin Santana pitching against Boston’s Daisuke Matsuzaka.

While just four of 28 teams to lose NL division series openers have come back to win series, it’s been an even 14-14 split in the AL, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

With Boston clinging to a 2-1 lead and rookie Justin Masterson on the mound, Jacoby Ellsbury made a great diving catch on Mark Teixeira’s sinking fly to center starting the eighth. Vladimir Guerrero followed with a single before Torii Hunter blooped a hit over first baseman Kevin Youkilis, who quickly recovered and easily threw out Guerrero at third.

Ellsbury and David Ortiz added RBI singles in the ninth off Scot Shields, and Jonathan Papelbon finished for his fifth postseason save, extending his postseason scoreless streak to 15 2-3 innings.

The Angels broke on top with an unearned run in the third on Hunter’s two-out, RBI single. Garret Anderson hit a one-out single and, after Teixeira struck out, rookie shortstop Jed Lowrie muffed Guerrero’s grounder before Hunter lined a 1-2 pitch to left that dropped in front of Bay.

Lowrie, making his postseason debut, set a major league record for rookie shortstops by handling 155 chances without an error in 49 games at that position during the regular season.

Bay hit an 0-1 pitch far over the left-field fence with Youkilis aboard. He flipped his bat as he began his home run trot upon leaving the batter’s box, long before the ball landed in the seats beyond the double-decker bullpen.

Bay, who hadn’t faced Lackey previously, looked bad in striking out in his first two at-bats in. He also doubled in the eighth.

“I was trying to get used to the game,” Bay said. “I had never seen him before.”

Lester got the Game 1 assignment after Josh Beckett was pushed back to Game 3 because of an oblique problem. He retired his final seven batters, striking out four, and only one outfielder had a putout during his stint. Lester struck out seven and walked one.

The Angels, who wrapped up the AL West title with 2 1/2 weeks left in the regular season, finished with a franchise-best 100-62 record that was tops in the majors. But they lost for the eighth time in 10 postseason home games since winning the 2002 World Series.

Lackey, who won Game 7 of that World Series, allowed two runs and four hits in 6 2-3 innings with three walks and five strikeouts. Notes: Ortiz extended his hitting streak in AL division series games to 12 with his ninth-inning single. … Hall of Famer Rod Carew, who celebrated his 63rd birthday Wednesday, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

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