EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 11, 2012

Historic night for Yankees' Ibanez

Pinch hitter slugs homer in 9th, walkoff blast in 12th

Associated Press
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — NEW YORK (AP) — Raul Ibanez lined a ninth-inning home run while pinch hitting for slumping Alex Rodriguez, then hit a leadoff homer in the 12th, giving the New York Yankees a stunning 3-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles last night for a 2-1 lead in their AL division series.

Batting for baseball’s highest-paid player, Ibanez homered to right-center with one out in the ninth inning off major league saves leader Jim Johnson to tie it at 2. He then hit the first pitch from Brian Matusz leading off the 12th.

Phil Hughes will start for the Yankees tonight in Game 4 of the best-of-five series. Chris Tillman or Joe Saunders will start for Baltimore.

Baltimore had won 16 straight extra-inning games, and had been 76-0 when leading after seven, before the Yankees stung them.

Ibanez got that chance after Yankees manager Joe Girardi made the decision to bat for Rodriguez — the first time A-Rod had ever been pinch-hit for in a postseason game, according to STATS LLC.

“You’re going to be asked a lot of questions if it doesn’t work,” Girardi said.

Cards’ Carpenter overcomes pain,

dazzles Nationals

WASHINGTON — Set aside the high-pressure task of postseason pitching that Chris Carpenter routinely masters for the St. Louis Cardinals and think about this:

Even the take-it-for-granted act of breathing feels odd on occasion now that he’s missing a rib and two neck muscles.

Taking the mound for only the fourth time in 2012 after complicated surgery to cure numbness on his right side, the 37-year-old New Hampshire native spoiled the return of postseason baseball to Washington by throwing scoreless ball into the sixth inning, and the defending champion Cardinals beat the Nationals 8-0 to take a 2-1 lead in their NL division series.

“To go from not being able to compete, and not only compete but help your team, to be able to be in this situation,” Carpenter said, “it’s pretty cool.”

Rookie Pete Kozma delivered a three-run homer, and a trio of relievers finished the shutout for the Cardinals, who can end the best-of-five series in today’s Game 4 at Washington. Kyle Lohse will start for St. Louis. Ross Detwiler pitches for Washington, which is sticking to its long-stated plan of keeping Stephen Strasburg on the sideline the rest of the way.

“We’re not out of this, by a long shot,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. “Shoot, I’ve had my back to worse walls than this.”

With the exception of Ian Desmond — 3 for 4 on Wednesday, 7 for 12 in the series — the Nationals’ hitters are struggling mightily. They’ve scored a total of seven runs in the playoffs and went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base in Game 3.

Rookie phenom Bryce Harper’s woes, in particular, stand out: He went 0 for 5, dropping to 1 for 15.

He went to the plate with an ash bat and no gloves in the first inning, tried wearing anti-glare tinted contact lenses on a sun-splashed afternoon — nothing helped.

Pagan, Lincecum

lift Giants

CINCINNATI — Angel Pagan connects on the second pitch of the game. A Giants team that finished last in homers goes on to hit three. Tim Lincecum pitches like a two-time Cy Young winner — this time, out of the bullpen.

So many unusual things moved San Francisco to the verge of an unprecedented comeback.

Pagan hit the first leadoff homer in Giants postseason history, and Gregor Blanco and Pablo Sandoval connected later for an 8-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds that evened their NL Division Series at 2-2.

No team has recovered from a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-five series by winning three on the road, according to STATS LLC.

This one can do it with a victory today at Great American Ball Park.

Matt Cain, who lost the series opener and has yet to beat the Reds in three tries this season, will start Game 5 against Mat Latos.

Facing elimination, the Giants’ slumping hitters came out swinging and extended Cincinnati’s playoff misery. The Reds haven’t won a postseason game at home in 17 years.

One thing in the Reds’ favor — they haven’t dropped three straight at home all season. “I’d like to think that we still have the advantage,” Reds outfielder Jay Bruce said. “We’re at home. I expect Mat to come up with a big game. I’m looking forward to it.”

So are the Giants, who were down after losing the first two games at home while getting outscored 14-2. They barely were able to get a hit, let alone a win.