MLB playoffs scores: Giants take NLDS lead vs. Dodgers; Red Sox close out Rays, punch ticket to ALCS

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Major League Baseball's postseason continued Monday with a slate of three crucial games. The Boston Red Sox were the first team to punch their ticket to the League Championship Series, as they clinched their ALDS matchup over the Rays with a Game 4 walk-off win at Fenway Park. In the National League, both the San Francisco Giants and Atlanta Braves took 2-1 NLDS leads with wins over the Dodgers and Brewers.

For your reference, here are the day's scores:

Monday's playoff schedule

  • PPD: Astros at White Sox (Rained out, will be played Tuesday) -- HOU leads 2-1
  • FINAL: Braves 3, Brewers 0 (Box score) -- ATL leads 2-1
  • FINAL: Red Sox 6-5 (Box score) -- BOS wins series 3-1
  • FINAL: Giants 1, Dodgers 0 (Box score) -- SF leads 2-1

And here are takeaways from Monday's action:

Giants one win away from NLCS

Thanks to Evan Longoria's solo home run and clutch bullpen work, the Giants are one win away from their first trip to the NLCS since winning the World Series in 2014. They hung on for a 1-0 win in Game 3 at windy Dodger Stadium on Monday.

Max Scherzer was incredible coming off three subpar starts, holding San Francisco to just the Longoria solo homer and striking out 10 in seven innings. He is the first pitcher in baseball history with a double-digit strikeout game in the postseason for three different franchises (Tigers, Nationals, Dodgers). A tough-luck loss, through and through.

The Giants countered with former Dodger Alex Wood, who battled through 4 2/3 innings before handing things over for the bullpen. Tyler Rogers, Jake McGee, and rookie Camilo Doval combined for 4 1/3 shutout innings to protect the lead and lock down the win. Brandon Crawford made a spectacular leaping catch to escape a jam in the seventh.

Red Sox top Rays, close down ALDS

After winning Game 1 in rather convincing fashion, the Tampa Bay Rays are the first team eliminated from the divisional round. 

The Red Sox closed things down in front of the Fenway faithful Monday night. It was a wild one, again. 

The Red Sox had a 5-0 lead through the third inning while starter Eduardo Rodriguez threw zeroes on the board through five innings. It looked pretty elementary, but the Rays' bullpen after the third held steady and the Tampa offense chipped away. A two-run Wander Franco homer made it 5-3 in the sixth. In the eighth, two doubles before a Randy Arozarena single meant the game was tied. Red Sox reliever Garrett Whitlock would come in to get some major outs to move things to the bottom of the ninth, still tied at five. 

In the bottom of the ninth, perhaps fittingly, the red-hot Enrique Hernández delivered the game-winning sac fly, giving Boston a 6-5 win and the club's second walk-off victory in a row.

The Red Sox offense battered the Rays -- who had the best ERA in the AL in the regular season -- for 26 runs on 47 hits in the final three games of the series, all Red Sox wins. They now await either the Astros or White Sox in the ALCS. 

Here's more on the Red Sox eliminating the Rays.

Braves now a win away from NLCS

The Atlanta Braves defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 3-0 on Monday in Game 3 of their best-of-five National League Division Series. The Braves now hold a 2-1 advantage, meaning another win will send them to the NL Championship Series, where they'd await either the San Francisco Giants or the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Braves received another strong outing from their pitching staff, as had been the case in each of the first two games of the series. Starter Ian Anderson chucked five shutout innings, holding the Brewers to three hits and no walks. He struck out six batters on 84 pitches before being lifted for pinch-hitter Joc Pederson.

That decision paid off for the Braves, as Pederson launched a three-run shot off Brewers reliever Adrian Houser to give Atlanta its lead:

The Braves bullpen, which has a tendency to make things interesting, subsequently shut down Milwaukee's bats. Jesse Chavez, Tyler Matzek, Luke Jackson, and Will Smith instead combined to throw four shutout innings with minimal drama.

One more strong effort from its pitching staff, and Atlanta will be heading to its second consecutive NLCS.

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@MLBStats via Twitter
October 12, 2021, 5:05 AM
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@MLB via Twitter
October 12, 2021, 5:00 AM
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@MLBStats via Twitter
October 12, 2021, 4:57 AM
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@Dodgers via Twitter
October 12, 2021, 4:47 AM
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holy cow. Lux crushed one to left-center. He even held up his hand like he hit a game-tying blast. Duggar in center broke hard toward the wall but had to stop on a dime on the warning track as the wind completely knocked it down. The Giants win and lead the series, two games to one

October 12, 2021, 4:46 AM
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Lux did, of course, have several multi-hit games in September 

October 12, 2021, 4:46 AM
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Lux was a MAJOR prospect in the minors and hasn't yet hit that level in the majors, but he has tons of talent 

October 12, 2021, 4:45 AM
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strike three. It's up to Gavin Lux

October 12, 2021, 4:45 AM
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Taylor flies out, Pollock is down 0-2. Lux is on deck 

October 12, 2021, 4:44 AM
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rare to see wind affecting balls in the air so much in Dodger Stadium 

October 12, 2021, 4:44 AM
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@Dodgers via Twitter
October 12, 2021, 4:41 AM
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OK, buckle up. Chris Taylor, AJ Pollock and either Matt Beaty or Gavin Lux against the rookie Camilo Doval. 1-0 game, bottom of the ninth. A 2-1 lead in a best-of-five series at stake. 

October 12, 2021, 4:40 AM
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1-2-3 for Doval. He threw 15 pitches. He hasn't thrown 20 since Sept. 5, but that hardly matters right now. He'll be fine to extend himself a bit in such an important situation. The best guess is he isn't going anywhere. It'll be Taylor, Pollock and a pinch hitter (Beaty or Lux, both of whom are left-handed hitters). First things first, though, the Giants are looking for insurance. 

October 12, 2021, 4:31 AM
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Doval casually throwing 101 with a nasty slider. The Giants are up 1-0 and are three outs away from a 2-1 series lead.

October 12, 2021, 4:31 AM
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