McCoy: Astros stave off elimination in ALCS; Dodgers rout Braves in NLCS

Los Angeles Dodgers' Max Muncy celebrates his grand slam home run during the first inning in Game 3 of a baseball National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Credit: Eric Gay

Credit: Eric Gay

The Houston Astros, forced to win or go on vacation, get to work at least one more day.

With his team down three games to none, facing elimination from the American League Championship Series, 37-year-old pitcher Zack Greinke displayed grit and tenacity for seven innings as the Astros stopped the rampaging Tampa Bay Rays, 4-3.

Astros leadoff hitter George Springer broke a 2-2 tie in fifth inning with a two-run home run off Tampa Bay starter Tyler Glasnow. The Rays had won the last 11 games started by the lanky 6-foot-8 Glasnow.

Meanwhile, over in the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers vacated the emergency room with a 15-3 explosion against the Atlanta Braves. Down two games to none, the Dodgers scored 11 runs in the first inning, 10 after two outs.

In the ALCS, Houston’s Greinke pitched six innings and gave up two runs and five hits. And he talked his way into staying in the game in the sixth inning when it looked as if manager Dusty Baker’s trip to the mound would be to pat Greinke on the posterior, tell him he did a great job, then take the baseball away.

Greinke’s granted request to stay on the mound paid off when he struck out Mike Brosseau on a 3-and-2 count with the bases loaded.

Houston second baseman Jose Altuve can’t throw (three throwing errors in the previous two games), but he sure can hit.

He put Houston on the scoreboard in the first inning with a home run, his third first-inning home run in his last four postseason games. He has 18 postseason home runs in his career, seven in the first inning.

Altuve struck again in the third after Glasnow walked two. Altuve doubled into the right field corner for a run and a 2-0 Houston lead.

The Rays put only one runner on base through three innings, a walk, and that runner was erased on a double play.

But Greinke gave up a one-out single to Austin Meadows in the fourth and ingot-hot rookie Randy Arozarena tied it, 2-2, with a home run.

It was his fifth home run of the postseason and 12th in his last 31 games, this from a player who was not going to make the team out of spring training before the pandemic ended spring training prematurely.

The Astros barged back ahead in the fifth, 4-2, on a single by No. 9 hitter Martin Maldonado and a long two-run home run by leadoff hitter Springer, a rip down the left ield line that landed on the fourth floor porch of the Western Metal Supply Building in Petco Park.

Houston’s Baker made his huge gamble in the sixth and came away with four aces.

The Astros put two on with one out and Baker walked to the mound. That usually means the pitcher is done. But Greinke convinced Baker he could do the job.

He struck out Arozarena and gave up an infield hit that filled the bases. Baker stayed in the dugout. Greinke went to 3-and-2 on Brosseau and struck him out swinging at a change-up out of the strike zone, preserving the 4-2 lead.

That was Greinke’s 99th and last pitch. Cristian Javier, a 23-year-old rookie pitched two scoreless innings with three strikeouts in the seventh and eighth.

Baker, obviously managed this one from the seat of his pants in this win-or-pack-it-in game, sent Javier back for the ninth, with closer Ryan Pressly warming up in the bullpen.

This one didn’t pan out. Javier walked the first batter, Ji-Man Choi on a 3-and-2 count, and Baker immediately put the call in for Pressly.

Pressly struck out pinch-hitter Brandon Lowe, Joey Wendle grounded into a force out and Willy Adames doubled to left center, scoring Wendle.

That made it 4-3, with the potential tying run on second base. With Yoshi Tsutsugo at the plate, Pressly threw a wild pitch, sending Adames to third. Tsutsugo, who hit 139 home runs the last three seasons in Japan, flied to right — and the Astros live to play another day.

**They scheduled a National League Championship Series Game 3 at the new $1.2 billion Global Life Field Wednesday night in Arlington, TX., and a slow-pitch softball game broke out.

Well, at least for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In a historic and incredible first inning, the Dodgers scored 11 runsy. Despite LA’s slice-and-dice annihilation, Atlanta still leads the best-of-seven series, two games to one.

While scoring the most runs in an inning in post-season history, the Dodgers hit three home runs, including a grand slam by Max Muncy.

The first two pitches thrown by Atlanta starter Kyle Wright were hit for an infield single and a run-scoring triple by Corey Seager.

Wright retired the next two, then the Dodgers tacked on 10 more runs. They sent 14 batters to the plate and 11 scored during the 32-minute half-inning.

Wright pitched two-thirds of an inning and gave up seven runs, five hits and two walks. In addition to Muncy’s grand slam, Joc Pederson and Edwin Rios hit back-to-back home runs on back-to-back pitches by Wright. He left with a postseason earned run average of 94.50.

Cody Bellinger homered in he second and Seager homered in the third as the Dodgers piled on.

By the time LA pitcher Julio Urias traveled one time through the order, his Dodgers teammates all had batted three times.

Although the Dodgers lost Game 2, 8-7, they scored seven runs in the last three innings. Add the first three innings in Game 3 and they scored 22 runs in six innings.

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