Red Sox

Red Sox

LOS ANGELES — A day after the Dodgers needed 18 innings to rip a win from the Red Sox, the Sox returned the favor in only nine.

Boston’s 9-6 comeback win over Los Angeles in Game 4 of the World Series on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium puts the Red Sox one win away from a title, which they can clinch as soon as Sunday in Game 5. 

The Dodgers, now down three games to one, were in prime position to tie the series at two games apiece, protecting a 4-0 lead in Game 4 as late as two out in the top of the seventh inning. By the time there was one out in the top of the ninth, the Sox had pulled ahead 5-4. 

Mitch Moreland’s pinch-hit, three-run homer off Ryan Madson in the seventh, a two-out moonshot to right, cut the Dodgers' lead to 4-3. Steve Pearce nailed the game-tying solo shot to left field off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen in the eighth, and a Rafael Devers pinch-hit single brought home the go-ahead run in the ninth inning. Brock Holt’s one-out double set up Devers’ knock off the bench.

Then came the piercing blow, from Pearce again: a two-out, bases-clearing, three-run double from off Kenta Maeda for an 8-4 lead. Xander Bogaerts added one more RBI-hit in a five-run ninth inning. 

The Sox needed the padding, considering Craig Kimbrel allowed a two-run homer to the second batter he faced in the ninth inning, turning a 9-4 advantage to 9-6. One more Dodgers base runner didn't materialize into a run, with the potential tying run left in the on-deck circle.

 

Three takeaways from the game that put the Red Sox 27 outs from a World Series title:

1. If the Red Sox finish off this incredible run, the midseason acquisitions will be front and center for a positive reason (rather than the absence of a setup man). Neither player was exactly out of sight previously, but between Nate Eovaldi’s performance in Game 3 and Steve Pearce’s in Game 4, Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and the front office added a load of talent in the first half. Pearce has five RBIs and four walks in the World Series alone, with no strikeouts.

2. Pitch No. 97 was the Sox’ undoing in Game 3. In Game 2, it was very nearly pitch No. 93. Alex Cora’s starter-to-reliever conversion plan has shored up a bullpen with question marks to enter the postseason, but there is such a thing as pushing too far. A night after Nate Eovaldi gave the Red Sox a huge performance, Eduardo Rodriguez did the same — until his last toss, a pitch that Cora should not have asked Rodriguez to throw. It was the sixth inning and there were two on in a scoreless game. (One of the base runners was the product of an intentional walk, a move that bit Roberts later in the game as well.) Yasiel Puig had been getting under pitches, with some skied pop-ups the last two nights, but didn’t seem far off. A powerful hitter, Puig has reverse splits, so he does better against lefties — like E-Rod — than righties. But E-Rod had already been taxed heavily in his first start since Sept. 20. Matt Barnes was up and ready in the Sox ‘pen.

3. The Red Sox are succeeding despite subpar performances from their best players. Mookie Betts is hitting .211 in the series (4-for-19). Xander Bogaerts, who had a clutch knock in the ninth inning, is batting .105 (2-for-19). J.D. Martinez is hitting .214 (3-for-14) with a .353 on-base percentage.

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