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How it happened: Red Sox unload on Astros to win ALCS Game 3 and take 2-1 series lead

J.D. Martinez hit a two-run blast in the bottom of the sixth for his third homer of the postseason.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Kyle Schwarber hit the Red Sox’ third grand slam of the series, Christian Arroyo, J.D. Martinez, and Rafael Devers added a few more, and Eduardo Rodriguez stayed steady on the mound as the Red Sox beat the Astros, 12-3, to win Game 3 of the ALCS.

Boston is two wins away from an American League pennant and a berth in the World Series. Read the full game story here.

The Red Sox became the first team to hit three grand slams in a single series, and just the second team with three in a single postseason, joining the 1998 Braves.


Schwarber got to Astros starter José Urquidy in the second with the blast, forcing Houston manager Dusty Baker to go to his bullpen early.

Meanwhile, Rodriguez had his best start in his postseason career, recording seven strikeouts and no walks through six innings — and saving Sox manager Alex Cora the need to jump to the bullpen early.

Game 4 is Tuesday at Fenway Park at 8:08 p.m.

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Here’s how the game unfolded.

See the box score | See the play-by-play | See more Red Sox coverage

The Sox bullpen is in good shape — 11:32 p.m.

The Red Sox are in good shape with their bullpen. Rodriguez’s six innings were a key to the team staying away from their high-leverage relievers, including Garrett Whitlock.

If the Sox win Tuesday evening and take a 3-1 lead ... it will be a tough hole for Houston to get out of.

Can the Red Sox keep up this momentum? — 11:27 p.m.

Momentum is only as good as your next starter. If you said that Zack Greinke would go against Nick Pivetta, you would likely choose a future Hall of Famer (Greinke) over — who has grinded his way through five years in the big leagues and struggled to stay in a rotation.

Yet, when Pivetta is on, he has proven to be a valuable asset to this Red Sox team and isn’t afraid of the moment.


In his bullpen appearance against the Rays, Pivetta put together a huge performance. The righthander went four innings, striking out seven and didn’t allow a run.

Now, they’ll look for him to start in a huge Game 4. Greinke, meanwhile, has pitched just one inning this postseason as he has dealt with neck soreness.

Sox win — 11:25 p.m.

Boston takes a 2-1 lead in the series.

Rafael Devers launches second homer of series — 11:15 p.m.

After hitting a grand slam in Game 2, Rafael Devers followed up with a solo blast in the bottom of the eight to make it 12-3.

That’s 20 home runs for the Red Sox in the first eight games of the postseason, tying a record set in 2004 by the ... Houston Astros (playing in the NL).

From heroes to zeroes — 11:05 p.m.

The Astros were No. 1 hits, No. 1 in batting average, No. 1 OBP, No. 1 walk-to-strikeout ratio, and second in OPS behind just Toronto during the regular season.

They have been held to just three runs and five hits tonight.

The Sox’ offensive output is at odds with the regular season — 10:53 p.m.

The Red Sox scored 25 runs against Houston in seven regular-season games. During the three games of this series, they have scored 24 runs after that two-run shot by Martinez.

Defensive changes and a switch at pitcher — 10:49 p.m.

Kiké Hernández has been lifted in the top of the seventh after hitting 2-for-4 tonight.

Alex Verdugo moves to center field; Danny Santana is in left.

And Eduardo Rodriguez is done for the night. His final line: 6 innings, five hits, three runs, seven Ks, no walks.


Hansel Robles is on the mound.

J.D. makes it 11-3 — 10:47 p.m.

J.D. Martinez launches his third homer of the postseason. Red Sox lead, 11-3.

What an outing for E-Rod — 10:34 p.m.

What a game for Eduardo Rodriguez. He’s gone six complete innings, the most in the 11 games in his postseason career.

Does it feel like these games have been long? Because they are — 10:28 p.m.

Via Globe staffer Jon Couture: There have been 56 four-hour, nine-inning playoff games in baseball history. The Astros entered tonight having played four in a row.

We’re at two hours, twenty minutes as the sixth begins.

When will Alex Cora turn to the bullpen? Not quite yet — 10:26 p.m.

Peter Abraham tells us that Rodriguez back out for the 6th.

Ottavino is warming.

A nine-pitch fifth for Rodriguez — 10:15 p.m.

That’s huge for the Sox. No one’s warming in the pen.

Why it’s important for E-Rod to eat innings — 10:10 p.m.

Rodriguez is back out for the fifth inning.

Eating as many inning as possible would be huge for the Red Sox, heading into at least two more games at Fenway. It saves their bullpen with three games in three straight days.

Rodriguez struck out Maldonado to start the inning. Rodriguez has 6 strikeouts, tied for his most in any postseason outing of his career.

A note on Christian Vázquez — 10:07 p.m.

Despite not having the best season at the dish, Christian Vázquez was a .326 hitter in high-leverage situations during the regular season — his highest mark of his career.

Where E-Rod sits after four innings — 9:57 p.m.

Eduardo Rodriguez is at 74 pitches through four innings. Not great, but serviceable. It highlights some of the Sox’ struggles regarding their starting pitching depth.

Yet the Sox’ offense has been so potent that it doesn’t matter. Conversely, Houston’s starters have been bad. It will be something to watch moving forward.


Kyle Tucker makes it 9-3 — 9:44 p.m.

Outfielder Kyle Tucker hit a 3-run blast to put the Astros on the board.

He had a breakthrough 2021 season, batting .294 with 30 home runs and 92 RBIs in 140 games in the regular season, including 12 for 25 with six doubles in seven games against the Red Sox. He matched that batting average in the Division Series against the White Sox, batting .294 with a pair of home runs.

Assessing Red Sox bullpen options — 9:43 p.m.

After going 5 ⅓ innings just two days ago, manager Alex Cora said Nate Eovaldi is good for one inning. They will try to stay away from Nick Pivetta — who is the probable starter for Game 4. This is another example of Cora managing with aggression.

Finally, Red Sox get aggressive on the bases — 9:28 p.m.

As bad as the Red Sox have been on the bases this season, Renfroe taking the extra bag on that short-hop by Martín Maldonado after stealing second led to that run. It brought the Astros defense in. That Vázquez bloop single to left would have been caught had Carlos Correa been back.

Then the Christian Arroyo two-run homer. Sox are clicking.

Arroyo knocks one into the Monster seats — 9:26 p.m.

Christian Arroyo makes it 9-0 with a bomb into the Green Monster seats.

B3: Sox 9, Astros 0

Another run for the Sox — 9:24 p.m.

Hunter Renfroe scored on a Vázquez single to make it 7-0.

He was on third after taking another base following an error on Maldonado, the catcher, who muffed the throw to Jose Altuve when Renfroe stole second.

Witnessing the attention to detail — 9:15 p.m.

The Vázquez backup play on the Kiké Hernández airmail throw to first base is a further proof how locked in this Red Sox team is right now.


Cora always talked about the attention to detail. That’s it right there.

It’s been a bad run for Houston’s starters — 9:10 p.m.

Houston starters this series:

Game 1: 2⅔ innings pitched

Game 2: 1 inning pitched

Game 3: 1⅔ innings pitched

Why the Red Sox were built for an inning like this — 9:00 p.m.

The Red Sox’ relentless approach at the plate led to this inning.

The Verdugo 11-pitch at-bat with one out and nobody on, the J.D. Martinez double off the wall, the Christian Vázquez single the other way. Finally, the Schwarber grand slam.

The Red Sox are the first team in history to hit three grand slams in a series. They hit three grand slams during the regular season, and have now hit three in two games.


What it sounded like at Fenway after Schwarber’s grand slam — 8:56 p.m.

Another grand slam for Schwarber — 8:54 p.m.


The Red Sox are now the first team in postseason history with three grand slams in a single series. It’s also more than the Sox hit this entire regular season.

Arroyo trips up Altuve — 8:52 p.m.

Christian Arroyo hit a José Urquidy pitch right up the middle, and it bounced off the mound and ricocheted slightly, making it hard for Astros second baseman Jose Altuve to play it cleanly.

The result? Another run for the Sox, as J.D. Martinez was able to make it home and the Sox avoided a double play. It’s scored as an error on Altuve.

Vázquez knocks in the first run — 8:50 p.m.

Christian Vázquez hit a bases-loaded RBI single in the bottom of the second with one out, sending Alex Verdugo home from third to give the Sox the first run of the game.

B1: Sox 1, Astros 0

Eduardo Rodriguez is locked in — 8:36 p.m.

Rodriguez is setting the tone early against this Houston team, who had the lowest strikeout rate in baseball this year at 19.4 percent. Rodriguez struck out the side in that last inning and has four through two innings.

Rodriguez’s velocity is something to watch — 8:26 p.m.

For much of the season, Eduardo Rodriguez struggled to maintain velocity. As the game progresses, it’ll be interesting to see if Rodriguez can, in fact, keep his velocity up. That first frame might be a good sign. He got Michael Brantley swinging on a perfectly dotted fastball on the outer-half. He was up to a 95.8 miles per hour on his heater, 2.2 ticks above his season average.

What to know about the Astros starting pitcher — 8:19 p.m.

Righthander José Urquidy is on the mound for the Astros. He’s making his 2021 postseason debut — the 26-year-old had been in line to start Game 4 of the Division Series against the White Sox before it was rained out. In his postseason career, he is 1-1 with a 2.81 ERA in eight appearances (four starts).

Red Sox vs. Urquidy: Xander Bogaerts 0-3, Rafael Devers 0-2, Kiké Hernández 0-3, J.D. Martinez 0-2, Hunter Renfroe 1-2, Danny Santana 0-5, Alex Verdugo 1-3, Christian Vázquez 1-2.

The key for Eduardo Rodriguez — 8:08 p.m.

It’s no secret that Eduardo Rodriguez had a down year, tallying a 4.74 ERA in 157 ⅔ innings pitched during the regular season. He wasn’t good in his first postseason start, collecting just 1 ⅔ innings against the Rays while allowing two runs on 41 pitches.

Rodriguez rebounded in Game 4 of the American League Division Series, however. He worked five innings, relinquishing just two runs while punching out six.

The key for Rodriguez will always be location. He walked two in his first postseason start against the Rays, and none in Game 4. The Astros, though, will be a tough test for the lefthander. They struck out the least this year (19.4 percent) and put the ball in play the most (80.6 percent). The game might come down to who can outslug who, but the key will be keeping the game close enough for the Red Sox offense to do damage.

How Astros hitters have performed against Rodriguez — 8:00 p.m.

LHP Eduardo Rodriguez is on the mound tonight.

Here’s how tonight’s Astros lineup has hit against him:

Carlos Correa 6-10, Jose Altuve 5-13, Alex Bregman 5-12, Aledmys Díaz, 3-12, Martín Maldonado 2-9, Jason Castro 0-8, Yuli Gurriel 2-8, Michael Brantley 1-6, Kyle Tucker 1-4, Yordan Alvarez 1-2, Chas McCormick 0-2.

Rodriguez went winless in two playoff starts against Tampa Bay in the ALDS, going 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA. He is 0-1 with a 7.02 ERA in 10 career postseason games (three starts).

One player to watch who’s not named Kiké — 7:40 p.m.

Lots of attention has been heaved on Kiké Hernández, and for good reason. He’s having a highlight-reel postseason.

But you should keep an eye on Xander Bogaerts.

The shortstop is having his most consistent postseason to date, batting .321/.424/.571 with two homers in 33 plate appearances this year. Pound for pound, Bogaerts represents the completeness you see from the order. His continued presence is pivotal for this Red Sox lineup.

‘Keep dancing’ — 6:45 p.m.

After the Red Sox beat the Rays to advance to the ALCS, a video went viral showing the team celebrating in the clubhouse while singing along to a Tiesto/Calum Scott remix of Robyn’s hit song “Dancing On My Own.” (The original is better.)

Now, “Keep Dancing” signs are hanging on the concourse at Fenway.

Lineups — 6:39 p.m.

Here’s the batting order for the Sox and the Astros.

ASTROS: Altuve 2B, Brantley LF,Bregman 3B, Alvarez DH, Correa SS, Tucker RF, Gurriel 1B, Siri CF, Maldonado C.

RED SOX: Schwarber 1B, Hernández CF, Devers 3B, Bogaerts SS, Verdugo LF, Martinez DH, Renfroe RF, Vázquez C, Arroyo 2B.

What will the atmosphere be like tonight? — 6:30 p.m.

Fans at Fenway Park have really been into it during the postseason, and the Red Sox have taken notice. Michael Silverman wrote on the topic as the series shifted back here. And Christian Arroyo was asked about it before the game.

“It’s going to be insane,” he said. “You get a hit, and you feel like you’re walking it off in the second.”

Arroyo and a few of his teammates got quite a cheer at Gillette Stadium on Sunday when they appeared on the jumbotron taking in the Patriots-Cowboys game. Arroyo wanted to make clear that they were on their best behavior.

“We weren’t doing anything dumb.,” he said. “We have a game today.” Arroyo also said he left in the third quarter, which means he missed a heck of a finish.

There’s a chill in the air — 6:25 p.m.

October, is that you?

It’s been quite balmy in the Boston area this month, but that changed today. It’s 54 degrees right now, with a little bit of wind. Might that have an effect on the Astros?

Houston plays in the enclosed Minute Maid Park, which has a retractable roof (that is rarely open).

That said, Boston has a number of new players on the roster who haven’t played into October in New England yet.

Celeb sightings — 6:20 p.m.

Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz, both part of the Fox studio show, are in town.

Katie McInerney can be reached at Follow her @k8tmac. Julian McWilliams can be reached at Follow him @byJulianMack.