Category: Sports

Video released of Terrell Davis handcuffed by FBI on United flight

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Former NFL star Terrell Davis will sue United Airlines and one of its employees after a recent incident that led to Davis being handcuffed by the FBI and removed from a plane at John Wayne Airport, his attorney said.

Davis’ lawyer also released new video that shows Davis being handcuffed by a man in an FBI jacket and led away, while his wife, Tamiko, stands nearby. The Davises’ three children, ages 9 to 13, were also said to be present but cannot be seen in the video.

Davis has said that during a July 13 flight from Denver to Santa Ana he lightly tapped a flight attendant and asked for some ice. The flight attendant yelled, “Don’t hit me!” Davis said.

The FBI said it responded that day to a report of “a violent assault.” A person was detained for questioning, was cooperative and then was released, with no charges pursued, the FBI said.

Davis told CNN last week: “I certainly felt like that wouldn’t have happened if I … was a white person. That wouldn’t have happened. That’s what I felt. Whether that’s true or not, that’s a different conversation.”

“This clearly is not the kind of travel experience we strive to provide,” United said in a statement last week. “We have reached out to Mr. Davis’s team to apologize and continue to discuss the issue with them. We have removed the flight attendant from duty while we closely look into this matter and we are reviewing our policies around incidents like this.”

River Ryan shines in major league debut as Dodgers edge Giants

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River Ryan handed the ball to manager Dave Roberts in the top of the sixth inning Monday night, and as he headed toward the third-base dugout, a crowd of 49,576 in Dodger Stadium rose to applaud the 25-year-old right-hander, who tapped his chest in appreciation of the gesture.

No matter what happened after he departed with the score tied and runners on first and third and one out, it was clear by the crowd’s reaction and the high-fives and handshakes Ryan received in the dugout that his major league debut was a success.

“The ground starts to shake a little bit when everybody gets loud,” Ryan said of the standing ovation. “That was really fun to be a part of.”

Teoscar Hernández then drove the decibel level in Chavez Ravine even higher in the eighth when he knocked in his third run of the game with a two-out single to center field to lift the Dodgers to a 3-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants.

With the score tied 2-2, Kiké Hernández opened the eighth with a fly ball that fell on the warning track between center fielder Heliot Ramos and left fielder Luis Matos for a double.

Giants left-hander Erik Miller struck out Shohei Ohtani, but Will Smith walked. Shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald made a nice diving stop of Freddie Freeman’s grounder up the middle and shoveled the ball with his glove hand to second for the second baseman Brett Wisely for the second out.

San Francisco manager Bob Melvin summoned right-hander Randy Rodriguez to face Teoscar Hernández, who lined a 98-mph 2-and-2 fastball on the outside corner to center to score Kiké Hernández for a 3-2 lead, giving Teoscar 67 RBIs on the season, 27 of them coming with two outs.

Daniel Hudson struck out two of four batters in a scoreless ninth for his seventh save, as the Dodgers extended their win streak to four.

“He’s been fantastic,” Roberts said of Teoscar Hernández. “We’ve said it all year — he just hunts and smells those RBIs, and when you get a guy on second base, he’s trying to drive that run in. That ball was dotted, down and away, at 98 mph. He didn’t try to do too much with it. He just tried to get a base hit. That’s how you win baseball games.”

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts congratulates pitcher River Ryan after his strong major league debut against the Giants.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

It helps to get starts like the one delivered by Ryan, who allowed one unearned run and four hits in 5⅓ innings, striking out two and walking three for a no-decision, the longest start by a Dodgers pitcher since Tyler Glasnow went six innings on July 5.

Ryan, who was drafted as a two-way player by San Diego in 2021 but gave up shortstop after the Dodgers acquired him for utility man Matt Beaty in the spring of 2022, had never pitched into the sixth inning in any of his 45 minor league starts, but he faced three batters in the sixth Monday night.

Using a six-pitch mix headed by a lively fastball that averaged 96.1 mph and topped out at 98.4 mph, Ryan threw a scoreless first inning despite walking Jorge Soler and giving up a single to LaMonte Wade Jr. to open the game.

After San Francisco scored its only run off Ryan on a Smith passed ball in the fourth, Ryan struck out Mike Yastrzemski with a 95-mph cut-fastball with runners on second and third to end the inning.

Left-hander Alex Vesia bailed out Ryan in the sixth, striking out Matos with a 91-mph fastball and Matt Chapman with a 93-mph fastball to escape the first-and-third jam.

“He was commanding the baseball, attacking guys,” Smith said of Ryan. “I know he was a little nervous before the game, but he settled right in after the first and gave us 5⅓ innings. That was really good.”

Ryan, the brother of Pittsburgh reliever Ryder Ryan, is the third rookie starter — not counting Japanese right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto — to pitch well for the Dodgers after making his big-league debut this season, following Landon Knack and Justin Wrobleski.

“It’s been huge,” Roberts said of the rookie contributions. “They’ve allowed us to sustain winning while at the same time cutting their teeth and gaining experience. That’s kind of the best of both worlds, where a lot of times you just don’t have that.”

With Glasnow and Clayton Kershaw coming off the injured list this week, Ryan’s stay with the Dodgers is expected to be short. But he will likely get at least one more start.

“That’s the thought right now,” Roberts said. “He’s not going anywhere tonight. It’s day to day, but I think for him, the message is just to plan for making his next start with us.”

Teoscar Hernández had three of his team’s six hits, his first coming when he golfed a down-and-in slider from Giants left-hander Blake Snell 411 feet into the left-field seats for his 21st home run, a solo shot that tied the score 1-1 in the fourth.

Teoscar Hernández runs the bases after hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning of the Dodgers' 3-2 win.

Teoscar Hernández runs the bases after hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning of the Dodgers’ 3-2 win over the Giants on Monday.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

The Dodgers took a 2-1 lead in the sixth when Freeman walked with two outs, took second on Snell’s wild pitch and scored on Teoscar Hernández’s single to center.

San Francisco tied it 2-2 on Fitzgerald’s solo homer to left-center field off left-hander Ryan Yarbrough in the top of the seventh, but Teoscar Hernández answered again in the eighth.

“At the beginning of the season, I was not really good with men in scoring position,” said Hernández, who is seven for 17 with two homers since winning the All-Star Game Home Run Derby on July 15. “I think it was because I was trying to do too much, trying to overswing, trying to cover the whole plate.

“Now, it’s more having a plan and executing it the way I want to execute, sticking with it even if I don’t get the job done. … I try not to not put more pressure on myself and to calm myself down. I want those at-bats. I like to be in those situations.”

Short hops

Roberts said Miguel Rojas, who was pulled from Sunday’s game in the fourth inning because of right forearm tightness, an injury that stems from the shortstop taking one-handed swings with a weighted bat over the All-Star break, is expected to return to the lineup Wednesday night. … Bobby Miller, who gave up three hits, struck out four and walked four over five scoreless innings for Oklahoma City on Saturday, will make at least one more triple-A start before being considered for a return to the Dodgers’ rotation. … Reliever Ryan Brasier (right-calf strain) will throw to hitters in Dodger Stadium again Tuesday, and the right-hander is scheduled to begin a rehabilitation stint with Oklahoma City on Saturday.

LeBron James selected as flagbearer at Olympics opening ceremony

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LeBron James is set to compete in his fourth Olympics.

Like the previous three times, the Lakers superstar will participate in the opening ceremony.

But for the official start of the Paris Games on Friday night, James will have a role that neither he nor anyone else who has played for the U.S. men’s basketball team has held before.

James was selected by his fellow American athletes as one of two U.S. flagbearers for the opening ceremony, which will take place in boats along the Seine toward the Eiffel Tower. A woman from Team USA will be announced as the second American flagbearer Tuesday.

“It’s an incredible honor to represent the United States on this global stage, especially in a moment that can bring the whole world together,” James said in a statement Monday from London before the U.S. plays its final pre-Olympics exhibition game against Germany.

“For a kid from Akron, this responsibility means everything to not only myself, but to my family, all the kids in my hometown, my teammates, fellow Olympians and so many people across the country with big aspirations. Sports have the power to bring us all together, and I’m proud to be a part of this important moment.”

The NBA’s all-time leading scorer, James joins Dawn Staley (2004) and Sue Bird (2021) as the only U.S. basketball players to serve as flagbearers. He was nominated for the honor by Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry on behalf of the U.S. men’s team.

“He has represented what it means to be excellent both on and off the court in his commitment to service and to uplifting the community in all ways that he knows how has been a lifelong passion,” Curry said in a video supporting James’ nomination. “And the work speaks for itself.”

Gavin Lux stays hot as Dodgers hit six homers to sweep Red Sox

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Dave Roberts didn’t mention Gavin Lux by name when discussing the Dodgers infield plans a few weeks ago.

Given the makeup of their roster, he didn’t need to.

When asked on July 3 about the potential of playing Mookie Betts at second base once Betts returns from a broken hand, Roberts was careful to make no guarantees.

“I’m gonna use as much time as possible [before making a decision],” Roberts said. “Because you have to appreciate the people that it could affect.”

No one, of course, stood to be affected as much as Lux. He had gotten all of his playing time this season at second base. And in the event Betts returned as the everyday second baseman, he seemed most poised to be squeezed out of playing time, given his disappointing numbers in his return from knee surgery last year.

“There’s no sense in me talking about,” Roberts said, “to potentially get into the psyche of another player.”

Roberts might not have addressed it publicly. But in the last couple of days, Lux has looked like a player motivated to change the narrative, following up a big performance Saturday with another highlight showing Sunday that keyed the Dodgers’ 9-6 win over the Boston Red Sox.

“Obviously, I don’t think it’s been any secret it’s been a little bit of a grind for me this year,” Lux said with a sigh of relief. “So yeah, just to get some results and some positive feedback, it definitely helps.”

In the first inning Sunday, Lux helped the Dodgers erase an early two-run deficit by lining an RBI double down the left-field line, collecting his third-straight extra-base hit after a home run and double in a Saturday night win.

Three innings later, Lux struck again, lifting an opposite-field home run to left that gave the Dodgers a 4-2 lead en route to their sweep-clinching victory at Dodger Stadium.

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Dodgers second base Gavin Lux reacts as he crosses the plate after hitting a solo home run against the Boston Red Sox

1. Gavin Lux hits a solo home run in the fourth inning of the Dodgers’ win over the Red Sox on Sunday. 2. Lux celebrates as he crosses home plate following his home run. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

“I don’t think it’s really like a swing change or anything,” said Lux, whose three-for-four effort overall (he also stole a base) raised his batting average to .225 (tying his high mark on the year) and OPS to .609 (the highest it has been at any point this season).

“I’m just trying to be more aggressive, and when I get a decent pitch to hit put a good swing on it.”

On the whole, Lux’s numbers are still underwhelming. Two years removed from his breakout 2022 campaign — when he batted .276, had an above-league-average OPS+ and led the NL with seven triples — the 26-year-old has yet to consistently become a bottom-of-the-order sparkplug again, thanks in no small part to the torn ACL he suffered last spring.

At times, Roberts said, Lux has looked too passive at the plate, seemingly protecting his surgically repaired knee with “safe swings” that have taken the first four months of the campaign to overcome.

Lately, however, there have been signs his form is finally trending upward.

Since crossing the 150 at-bat threshold on May 31 — the marker Roberts wanted Lux to reach before making sweeping evaluations of his game — the infielder is batting .250 with six doubles, four homers, 15 RBIs and a .700 OPS in 31 games.

His defense at second base, the position he moved back to this spring after defensive struggles at shortstop, has been superb.

And, even with Betts now just weeks away from a return, Lux’s ability to add bottom-of-the-order production remains crucial to the Dodgers’ top-heavy lineup.

“He’s fighting every day,” Roberts said. “I’ve praised him all year long about the defense, and now the bat is coming the way it has been. I think if you look at the last couple of weeks, the numbers are lining up. My eyes are lining up. I like what I see. And, you know, the confidence is certainly oozing from him.”

Lux wasn’t alone in leading the Dodgers to a series sweep of the Red Sox — a much-needed result for a club that had lost six of seven games entering last week’s All-Star break.

The Dodgers hit a season-high six home runs in all, with Freddie Freeman, Teoscar Hernández, Austin Barnes, Jason Heyward and Shohei Ohtani also going deep on a warm afternoon at Chavez Ravine.

Ohtani’s 473-foot blast in the fifth nearly cleared the roof above the right-field pavilion, his National League-leading 30th homer of the year leaving his teammates in awe as he rounded the bases.

“It sounded like a shotgun off his bat,” Lux said.

Added Barnes, who hit his first home run of the season the at-bat prior: “I was still thinking about mine [and then] I just heard like a gunshot and everybody screaming.”

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Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani tosses his bat after hitting a 473-foot home run at Dodger Stadium.

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Shohei Ohtani celebrates with third base coach Dino Ebel after his solo home run at Dodger Stadium.

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Shohei Ohtani claps his hands as he reaches home plate after his home run in the fifth inning.

1. Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani tosses his bat after hitting a 473-foot home run during the Dodgers’ win over the Red Sox on Sunday. 2. Ohtani celebrates with third base coach Dino Ebel after his solo home run. 3. Ohtani claps his hands as he reaches home plate after his home run in the fifth inning. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Echoed Roberts: “That’s just where people don’t go. Just really impressive. He does things, it seems like every night, that people just can’t do.”

On the mound, James Paxton bounced back from a two-run first-inning homer by Jarren Duran to pitch into the sixth, giving up just one more run in his longest start in more than a month. Daniel Hudson, meanwhile, got the save after closer Evan Phillips gave up three runs in the ninth (he’s given up nine earned runs in his last eight outings).

“I think just winning, coming back from behind to win a lot of these games [from] difficult situations, it really creates a lot of momentum for the team,” Ohtani said through interpreter Will Ireton. “So hoping to continue that moving forward.”

Still, Lux’s sudden offensive explosion could have the biggest ramifications on the Dodgers’ long-term outlook.

If he stays hot, he could warrant continued at-bats against right-handed pitching, with Betts perhaps playing shortstop on those days once he returns (Betts was the Dodgers’ everyday shortstop before his hand fracture).

Lux could be needed more in the short term, as well, after shortstop Miguel Rojas exited Sunday’s game early with right forearm tightness.

Rojas didn’t think his injury was serious, attributing it to a one-handed, heavy-bat swing drill he has recently added to his routine in the batting cage. He won’t play Monday, Roberts said, but probably won’t need any medical imagining, either.

“Just going to come in tomorrow,” Rojas said, “and see how it feels when I throw.”

Lux’s resurgence could have trade deadline ramifications, too, as any continued struggles from him might have prompted the club to look for more infield help.

But the Dodgers had not yet lost faith in their former first-round draft pick. They’d been holding out hope that, at some point, he’d overcome his slow start to the year and be an important piece in their plans to contend for a World Series.

This weekend, Lux flashed long-awaited signs that level of play is still possible.

For the first time in a long time, he looked like someone who could still be a key cog in their lineup’s success.

Xander Schauffele wins British Open for second major title of year

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Xander Schauffele won the British Open on Sunday for his second major of the year, delivering a masterpiece at Royal Troon with a six-under-par 65 to overcome a two-shot deficit and give the Americans a sweep of the majors for the first time since 1982.

Schauffele won the PGA Championship at Valhalla two months ago by making a six-foot birdie putt on the final hole. In a final round set up for big drama — nine players separated by three shots at the start — Schauffele made it look like a nice walk along the Irish Sea.

He played bogey-free in a strong, chilly wind and pulled away with three birdies in a four-hole stretch early on the back nine to go from two shots behind to leading by as many as three.

He won by two shots over American Billy Horschel and Justin Rose, the 43-year-old from England who had to go through 36-hole qualifying to get into the field. They were among four players who had at least a share of the lead at one point Sunday.

They just couldn’t keep up with Schauffele. No one could.

Given the wind, heavy air off the Firth of Clyde and punishing nature of Royal Troon, Schauffele’s 65 ranks among the great closing rounds in British Open history. Playing in the third-to-last group, he matched the best round of the championship with a score that was just over eight shots better than the field average.

Xander Schauffele plays a shot from the rough on the 12th hole during the final round of the British Open on Sunday.

(Jon Super / Associated Press)

The 30-year-old from San Diego became the first player since Jordan Spieth in 2015 to win his first two majors in the same season. And he extended American dominance on this Scottish links as the seventh Open champion in the last eight visits to Royal Troon.

Rose closed with a 67 and it was only good for second place. Horschel, who started the final round with a one-shot lead in his bid to win his first major, dropped back around the turn and birdied his last three holes for a 68 for his best finish in a major.

The player Schauffele had to track down was Thriston Lawrence of South Africa, who birdied three of four holes to end the front nine with a 32.

Schauffele was two shots behind when it all changed so suddenly. Schauffele hit a wedge out of the left rough on the difficult 11th and judged it perfectly to within three feet for birdie. He hit another wedge to within 15 feet for birdie on the 13th, and capped his pivotal run with a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-three 14th.

Lawrence finally dropped a shot on the 12th and didn’t pick up any shots the rest of the day. He closed with a 68 and earned a small consolation — a trip to the Masters next April, his first time to Augusta National.

Scottie Scheffler, who got within one shot of the lead briefly on the front nine, lost his way with a three-putt from 6 feet for a double bogey on the ninth hole. Scheffler finished his round by topping a tee shot on the 18th and making another double bogey. The world’s No. 1 player closed with a 72 and tied for seventh.

Schauffele went from the heaviest major trophy at the PGA Championship to the smallest and oldest, the famed claret jug that he will keep for a year.

He finished at 9-under 275 and earned $3.1 million, pushing him over $15 million for the season.

Kiké Hernández helps lead Dodgers to thrilling win over Red Sox

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Kiké Hernández was having a pretty memorable Saturday even before he set foot in Dodger Stadium, the veteran utility man starting the weekend with an emotional family gathering to mark the day he reached 10 years of major league service time, a milestone fewer than 10% of players achieve.

“It was at home with my wife, my daughter, my parents, my two sisters and their boyfriends and my dogs,” Hernández said. “My wife prepared an hourlong video of all my friends from back home [in Puerto Rico] with messages from people who have impacted my career. It was definitely a great way to start my day.”

Somehow, Hernández authored an even better finish, entering the game against the Boston Red Sox as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning and almost single-handedly keeping the Dodgers in it with clutch, score-tying hits in the ninth and 10th innings.

Will Smith then delivered a bases-loaded single to left-center in the bottom of the 11th to give the Dodgers a dramatic 7-6, walk-off victory in front of a rollicking crowd of 48,129 in Chavez Ravine.

“It’s been a day of a lot of reflection,” Hernández said at his corner locker afterward, his brow still sweaty and his uniform covered in dirt. “This game, it’s such a grind, such a long season. It’s hard to sit back and appreciate what you’ve done or what the game has done for you.”

There was a certain symmetry to Hernández’s afternoon. The 32-year-old has played 7½ seasons of his 11-year career with the Dodgers and 2½ seasons with the Red Sox, the teams that packed about as much drama as you can fit in a 3½-hour nationally televised regular-season game.

And Hernández was a teammate of Kenley Jansen, the man he hit a game-tying home run off of in the ninth inning, in both Los Angeles and Boston.

“It’s funny how things work,” Hernández said. “I’ve played for four teams, and the two I played the majority of my career with are here at Dodger Stadium on the day I celebrate my tenure. It’s a really beautiful thing.”

Dodgers catcher Will Smith gets a face full of water as he celebrates with teammates after hitting a walk-off single.

Dodgers catcher Will Smith gets a face full of water as he celebrates with teammates after hitting a walk-off single in the 11th inning Saturday.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

The lead changed hands three times in the the first seven innings, with Tyler O’Neill crushing a two-run homer off left-hander Anthony Banda to give the Red Sox a 4-3 lead in the seventh, an inning that began with James Outman making a spectacular, leaping catch of a Rob Refsnyder drive as the Dodgers center fielder crashed into the wall.

The bottom of the ninth began with a familiar sight in Chavez Ravine, as Jansen, the former Dodgers closer, entered to protect a one-run lead against the team with whom he notched the first 350 saves of his career.

Jansen grooved a 2-and-2 cut fastball to his old buddy, and Hernández, who entered with a .191 average, .557 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, five homers and 15 RBIs in 71 games, drove a a 415-foot homer to left to tie the score 4-4. It was the first home run given up by Jansen in 134 batters faced this season.

“I’ve played a lot behind Kenley, but I had only faced him once when he was in Atlanta in 2022,” Hernández said. “I ambushed the first pitch, and he broke my bat on a two-seamer that went out to the warning track. The whole way back to the dugout, he was yelling at me, ‘Keep cheating to the cutter! Keep cheating to the cutter!’

“He’s not really throwing the two-seamer this year, so there’s no mystery to what Kenley is trying to do. He gave me one to handle, and I didn’t miss it.”

Did Jansen say anything to Hernández this time?

“If he did, I didn’t hear it because the stadium was loud, and I kind of blacked out because it had been a while since I did something in a big moment in this stadium,” Hernández said. “But I’m sure he might have some words tomorrow.”

The Red Sox took a 6-4 lead in the top of the 10th when O’Neill hit his second homer of the game, a two-run shot to center off Dodgers closer Evan Phillips, one of the relievers responsible for blowing a five-run lead in the ninth inning of a walk-off loss to the Detroit Tigers in the next-to-last game before the All-Star break.

Back came the Dodgers in the bottom of the 10th. Andy Pages hit a one-out double to left off Red Sox right-hander Greg Weissert to score Freddie Freeman, who began the inning as the automatic runner at second base, and cut the deficit to 6-5.

Miguel Rojas, who tapped a check-swing comebacker to the mound to start an inning-ending, 1-2-3 double play with the bases loaded in the eighth, struck out. Up stepped Hernández, who took a first-pitch sweeper for a strike and swung through a second-pitch sweeper for Strike 2. But Hernández worked his way back to a full count and lined a 96-mph sinker to center for a single and a 6-6 tie.

Hernández was thrown out at second trying to advance on the throw home to end the 10th, but his big day wasn’t done yet.

Dodgers catcher Will Smith celebrates after hitting a walk-off single in the 11th inning at Dodger Stadium.

Dodgers catcher Will Smith celebrates after hitting a walk-off single in the 11th inning of a 7-6 win over the Red Sox on Saturday.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

“I’ve never faced the guy — he’s a very funky right-hander with a huge crossfire delivery,” Hernández said of Weissert. “I got down 0-2, and after that, it was just about slowing everything down, taking it pitch by pitch and having a lot of self-talk.

“It’s been hard to stay confident, but I kept telling myself throughout the at-bat that there’s nobody better in these types of situations. Just get a pitch, don’t chase, and don’t try to do too much. All I have to do is get a hit or a walk. That 3-2 pitch was right there, and I hit a liner up the middle.”

Reliever Blake Treinen gave the Dodgers a chance to win by escaping a two-on, no-out jam in the top of the 11th, striking out Dominic Smith, getting Ceddanne Rafaela to pop out to first base and pinch-hitter Masataka Yoshida to pop out to third.

“That was huge,” manager Dave Roberts said. “Inheriting the baserunner, it’s hard to get out of there with no run.”

Pinch-hitter Cavan Biggio opened the bottom of the 11th with a sacrifice bunt to advance Hernández, the automatic runner, to third. Chris Taylor walked, and Shohei Ohtani was intentionally walked to load the bases.

Boston brought an outfielder in for a five-man infield, but Will Smith hit a ball where the Red Sox weren’t to give the Dodgers their second straight come-from-behind win.

“There was a lot of back and forth, homers, clutch hits … it was a fun game to be a part of,” Smith said. “I wish we could have closed it out a little earlier, but we were able to grind through it and come out with a win.”

Dodgers left-hander Justin Wrobleski gave up three hits, struck out five and walked two in 4⅓ innings of his third big-league start, and reliever Brent Honeywell, in his second appearance for the Dodgers, threw scoreless eighth and ninth innings.

Gavin Lux hit a solo homer in the second, and the Dodgers scored twice in the sixth for a 3-2 lead when Ohtani doubled, Freeman walked, Teoscar Hernández hit an RBI single and Pages hit a sacrifice fly.

But when it was over, it was Kiké Hernández whom teammates honored with a champagne toast in the clubhouse, a tradition that Roberts started a few years ago to salute players reaching 10 years of service time.

“My family did a really good job this morning of making sure that I enjoy today,” Hernández said. “I had two big moments in the game, and I’m glad we got the win. It’s been a special day for me.”

El Segundo’s Little League World Series title is still has impact

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After El Segundo gave up a four-run lead on a Curacao grand slam, it was 5-5 in the bottom of the sixth inning. It was still anyone’s game. Except this game was on the biggest stage in amateur baseball: the Little League Baseball World Series championship.

“No pressure, just get on base and let your teammates do the rest,” then 12-year-old Louis Lappe recalled thinking as he walked to the plate. “It doesn’t matter how you get on. Just get on.”

The first pitch was an outside curveball, the second was right down the middle. Then, the pitcher missed his spot and Lappe took advantage. A loud clunk and the crowd roared as the ball sailed above the field and over the fence for a walk-off home run to seal the championship win.

“We weren’t nervous because we had learned how to face adversity,” El Segundo manager Danny Boehle said of the moment. “These kids don’t have that bone in their body. They were made for that moment. They weren’t nervous at all, they knew we could come back.”

In their first trip to the final, El Segundo Little League All-Stars made history last August by edging Curacao 6-5 in the Little League World Series championship game in Williamsport, Pa. El Segundo had to win five consecutive elimination games to become the first team from California to secure the world title since Huntington Beach Ocean View in 2011.

Nearly a year later, Little League is more popular than ever in El Segundo and the star of the championship team is still getting adjusted to the impact of the team’s unlikely run to a world championship

Lappe’s walk-off homer was a moment every young baseball player dreams of — hitting a game-winning home run — and makes someone a hometown hero.

“They knew they were the best in the world, but I think it will really hit them like it has the adults later in life when they have kids and understand family and understand how big this really is,” Boehle said. “It means so much more to not only the families and El Segundo, or even California. … You hit the whole world.”

Lappe’s parents, Ted Lappe and Kathryn Narahara, had similar feelings while sitting alongside the families of their son’s teammates during the championship game.

“It was the experience itself and the relationships that grew on this journey,” Narahara said. “… The boys got to meet kids from all over the world and that experience will always mean something special to them. I don’t think they will fully comprehend their achievement until they’re much older, but we have a different perspective of enjoying the little things. It was very emotional and joyful.”

The night of their win, the El Segundo players didn’t even try to sleep. There was so much excitement, they stayed up talking in their dorms, recounting the highs and lows of the game until they finally fell asleep in the early hours of the morning.

El Segundo Little League players take part in a victory parade along main street in El Segundo on Aug. 28, 2023.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

They were welcomed home by fans at LAX and during a parade down Main Street in El Segundo.

“Being from California, champions are big here,” Boehle said, “Just look at the Dodgers or Lakers … they call it the city of champions. Being from California and being from this tiny town in Southern California, everyone was behind us.”

Boehle said the most special moment came when the team was recognized in front of 60,000 fans at the USC-Stanford football game at the Coliseum in September. After the second quarter, a video was shown of Lappe’s walk-off home run and the team’s victory celebration, triggering a standing ovation.

“That’s the most emotional I got because you realize you’re touching fans that don’t even realize who you are, but because you’re from L.A. and because you’re a champion and because you represented California, they were all-in,” Boehle said. “That to me was pretty special.”

The win also meant a lot for the city, which has a history of success in baseball from the high school level to producing current MLB players such as the St. Louis Cardinals’ Lars Nootbaar, whom every kid in El Segundo looks up to, according to Ted Lappe. Since El Segundo Little League started in 1954, this was the first team in its district and section to make it to state and win it all.

“That to me was one of the greatest parts of winning this thing was people who had no idea [Brett Field, named for Hall of Famer George Brett] existed in their town, but they knew what we just accomplished meant so much to this town,” Boehle said. “You’ll probably never see it again. It’s usually one special group of kids, special coaches, special families and the town realized that.”

The impact of the championship is reflected in registration for Little League in El Segundo, which has grown significantly since the World Series win. Last year, El Segundo Little League had roughly 420 players with 39 teams, while this year it had 450 players across 42 teams, according to Jamin Griffiths, El Segundo Little League president. Griffiths estimates that this year is the highest numbers the league has ever had, with the last decade usually having between 370 and 400 participants.

Lappe’s celebrity status continued after the team’s homecoming. It’s mostly confined to El Segundo in the form of kids walking up to say hi or following him around at Little League games, but every once in a while he’ll get recognized elsewhere.

“He is going to be an icon the rest of his life in this town, “ Boehle said. “Everyone knows who he is. Everyone is asking about him — high school, colleges … that’s who he is, he’s humble. Whether he is a celebrity or not that’s not going to stop his work ethic or stop him from being who he is. When you are on that stage, there’s nothing bigger on TV in that week of August. Everyone is watching. What he did will go down in history.”

Louis Lappe delivers during a Little League World Series game for El Segundo on Aug. 26.

Louis Lappe delivers during a Little League World Series game for El Segundo on Aug. 26.

(Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press)

Despite his fame and historic play, Lappe doesn’t want to just be remembered for that moment. It’s a good memory, but he hopes to have a long baseball career. He is playing for the Braves Baseball Academy this season, but he is mostly just enjoying his summer like any other kid: riding bikes and meeting friends at In-N-Out.

Soon he will take a break as his travel ball season closes.

Lappe’s parents have made sure he stays grounded through all the attention — chores and school work are still part of his routine. He loves baseball, but it’s not his whole life. Soccer and basketball are fun, too. He will go down in El Segundo baseball history, but he’s also still just Lou.

“He has been good about staying true to himself,” Ted Lappe said. “The attention afterwards was fast and furious and fun to experience but nothing’s going to be completely the same. Still, not too much has changed besides the fact that an achievement was accomplished. He’s still the same kid that has loved baseball since he was 5 years old.”

Freddie Freeman grand slam powers Dodgers to win over Red Sox

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Freddie Freeman provided the thunder in Dodger Stadium on Friday night, lining a grand slam into the right-field bullpen in the eighth inning to turn what looked like a desultory loss to the Boston Red Sox into a dramatic 4-1 victory in front of a crowd of 51,562.

But it was a web gem by a novice of a left fielder whose seventh-inning defensive gaffe nearly cost his team dearly that lit the spark for a comeback that the Dodgers hope sets a better tone for the second half.

Chavez Ravine was silent for most of the first seven innings, as Red Sox right-hander Nick Pivetta blanked the Dodgers on two hits with eight strikeouts and one walk through six and Boston reliever Zack Kelly threw a scoreless seventh. Boston held a 1-0 lead on the strength of Jarren Duran’s solo home run in the fifth.

The mood in the stadium dampened even more in the top of the seventh when Dominic Smith led off with a deep fly ball to the gap in left-center that Dodgers left fielder Miguel Vargas dropped when he cut in front of center fielder Andy Pages, who was calling for the ball, a play that was generously ruled a double.

Dodgers left-hander Alex Vesia stiffened, striking out Ceddanne Rafaela with an 85-mph changeup, pinch-hitter Connor Wong with a 93-mph fastball and Duran with a 93-mph fastball to complete a 30-pitch inning and preserve the 1-0 deficit.

Vargas, an infielder who was moved to the outfield at triple A last summer, atoned for his miscue in the eighth when he raced in to catch a Rafael Devers fly ball and fired a throw to Freeman at first base to double off O’Neill, who did not go full speed back into the bag. The crowd finally began to stir.

“Yeah, we didn’t do much for the crowd to get into it tonight up to that point,” Freeman said. “I think the crowd was waiting for something to happen, and Vargy throwing that guy out kind of helped.”

Vargas then opened the bottom of the eighth with a walk, avoiding a full-count, 91-mph cut-fastball at his head from Kelly for ball four. Chris Taylor struck out, but Shohei Ohtani, who looked overmatched while striking out in his first three at-bats against Pivetta, sliced a one-out ground-rule double to left off left-hander Brennan Bernardino.

Will Smith was intentionally walked to load the bases for the left-handed-hitting Freeman, who hooked a down-and-in, 0-and-1 curveball over the right-field wall for his seventh career grand slam and a 4-1 lead, as chants of “Freddie! Freddie!” filled Chavez Ravine and Freeman came out for a curtain call.

Daniel Hudson gave up a single in a scoreless ninth for his fifth save, as the Dodgers, who lost six of seven games heading into the All-Star break, maintained their seven-game lead over Arizona in the National League West.

“One moment in time, one at-bat, I’ll take Freddie against anyone in any big spot, regardless of handedness,” manager Dave Roberts said. “They’re setting up a potential double-play ball [with the walk], they had the right-hander behind Bernardino, so I get it. It was good to be on the good side of that.”

Freddie Freeman celebrates while rounding first base after hitting a grand slam in the eighth inning against Boston.

Freddie Freeman celebrates while rounding first base after hitting a grand slam in the eighth inning against Boston on Friday.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Dodgers right-hander Gavin Stone rebounded from two rocky starts in which he gave up eight runs and 16 hits in 7⅔ innings to Arizona and Philadelphia to allow one run and six hits in five innings, striking out three and walking none, against the Red Sox.

His only blemish was a changeup that caught too much of the plate to Duran, the All-Star Game most valuable player who crushed his 11th homer of the season over the center-field wall in the fifth.

Stone’s outing halted a brutal stretch in which Dodgers starters gave up 56 earned runs and 84 hits, including 17 homers, in 61⅓ innings of 15 games before the All-Star break for an 8.22 ERA.

Stone pitched around Duran’s leadoff double in the first. He took a 113.6-mph comebacker off the bat of Devers off his right calf for an infield single that put two on with no outs in the fourth.

But he got Masataka Yoshida to fly to center field, O’Neill advancing to third, struck out Wilyer Abreu swinging at a 95-mph fastball and got Smith to ground out to shortstop, preserving the scoreless tie.

Boston threatened in the seventh when Vargas gifted Smith with a leadoff double, the second time this season a ball dropped on a near-collision between Vargas and Pages.

“I didn’t hear him — it was too loud,” Vargas said. “I have to respect his priority, too, so I take the whole responsibility for that.”

But Vargas made amends with his double play to end the eighth, getting an assist from shortstop Miguel Rojas, who deked O’Neill just enough at second base to delay the Red Sox runner’s retreat back to first.

“That was a weird play,” Rojas said. “You don’t see a lot of assists from the outfield like that. I saw him jogging back slowly, so I said, ‘Maybe I got him.’ ”

Freeman took it from there, the 15-year veteran’s eyes lighting up when Red Sox manager Alex Cora elected to walk Smith intentionally to load the bases in the bottom of the eighth.

“It’s an opportunity to drive in runs — that’s all I care about,” Freeman said. “You can walk all the people you want. That’s part of the game. It’s strategy, a sinker-baller who can throw the sinker in. I could roll it over and hit into a double play. It’s the right move. But sometimes it doesn’t work.”

This one worked out well for the Dodgers, as Freeman delivered his fifth hit in nine at-bats with the bases loaded this season. He is 19 for 47 with the bases loaded in three seasons with the Dodgers.

“From the other dugout, it’s a no-win situation, pick your poison,” Roberts said. “That’s a tough one. It started because of Vargy getting on base and Shohei’s double, which kind of put the onus on the manager, A.C., to make a decision.”

Why Teoscar Hernández signed with the Dodgers and not the Red Sox

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Teoscar Hernández could be playing for the Boston Red Sox this weekend instead of against them.

He could have taken the two-year, $28-million deal he says the Red Sox offered during the offseason.

He could have returned to All-Star form and won the Home Run Derby while representing a Boston team he says was always one of his favorites.

But that’s not how it played out for Hernández. Instead, the outfielder has been representing Los Angeles in tremendous fashion after signing a one-year, $23.5-million deal from the Dodgers, who start a three-game series with the Red Sox on Friday night at Dodger Stadium.

“Obviously, I was not gonna go and spend my free agency trying to get a bad deal,” the Dominican Republic native said this week on the “Baseball Isn’t Boring” podcast. “I love the Red Sox. It was one of my favorite teams. And I love playing [at Fenway Park], but at the end of the day I have to [decide] what is best for me, my career and my family.”

Hernández made his major league debut with the Houston Astros in 2016 and was acquired by the Toronto Blue Jays at the 2017 trade deadline. He became an All-Star in 2021 and finished the season with career highs across the board, including a .296 batting average, 163 hits, 32 home runs and 116 runs batted in.

After his numbers dipped the following season, Hernández was traded to the Seattle Mariners, where his 211 strikeouts were the third most in the majors last year. As a free agent this past season, Hernández said, he received interest from the Angels as well as the Dodgers and Red Sox, but his final decision was between the latter two teams.

Hernández told “Baseball Isn’t Boring” that the Red Sox gave him the impression they’d be willing to increase their offer to three years after some maneuvering on their end.

In December, the Dodgers signed major deals with Japanese two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani and pitchers Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Tyler Glasnow. Hernández said he saw what was happening in Los Angeles and knew he “couldn’t wait any longer” on the Red Sox.

“Teams that wanna win, they spend. They go after good players,” Hernández said. “I’m not saying [the Red Sox] don’t have good players, because they do. The Red Sox are really good right now and they had amazing players. But for my part, I just wanna go to a team that it’s looking for everybody that is good to win … that they’re not afraid to spend and to go after good players so they can make their team better.”

Hernández has flourished in L.A. His 62 RBIs rank seventh in the National League and trail only Ohtani among Dodgers. His 28 hits with runners in scoring position are 12th in the NL and second on the team, behind Freddie Freeman. His 19 home runs are tied for fifth best in the NL and second on the team to Ohtani.

On Monday night, he outlasted Bobby Witt Jr. of the Kansas City Royals to become the first Dodgers player to win the Home Run Derby in its 40-year history.

“In this organization, everybody talks about win, win, win, and that’s me,” Hernández said. “I don’t care about anything else. I want to win. I’m at one point in my career that I want to go out there and have fun, have a good year but also win too.”

Knecht, James give Lakers coach JJ Redick a preview of things to come

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JJ Redick and a chunk of his new coaching staff sat baseline Thursday in Las Vegas, the Lakers’ key young pieces all flashing elements of why the team valued them.

The result — another Summer League victory and some critic silencing — was momentary. Maybe in the 93-89 win against the Cleveland Cavaliers, there was something more.

From the jump, Dalton Knecht, the Lakers’ first rounder, splashed threes and attacked the rim with an athletic two-handed dunk. It all reinforced that he can score — something the team and Redick will probably try to incorporate this season.

Knecht scored 20 and grabbed seven rebounds, looking like a piece the Lakers could try to use sooner than later.

Bronny James, more of a long-term developmental project, showed the midrange and rim-attacking skills that can help offset a three-point shot that’s still under construction.

He finished with 13 points on 50% shooting.

Maxwell Lewis played a more complementary game while still showing the elite tools that made the Lakers value him a season ago.

Second-year center Colin Castleton fired pretty bounce passes to cutters, a skill that could help separate him from other big men. French two-way rookie Armel Traore had his best game of the summer, using his physicality and motor to make plays at the rim on both ends. And two-way rookie Blake Hinson showed that he’s willing to try and stretch the floor with his shooting while playing with plenty of passion.

Maybe there’s something to be gained, an advantage to be mined, from what Redick and his staff were watching Thursday. In a summer where the coaches and the young players are all that’s new, the Lakers better hope there is.

As the team’s young players led a fourth-quarter comeback, their draft picks all made plays.

James scored on a sweeping left-handed hook and hit a stepback three off the dribble, maybe his biggest highlight in Vegas. And Knecht’s cutting and foul-drawing led to easy fourth-quarter points.

The Lakers finish their Summer League schedule Saturday against Chicago.