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How it happened: Astros unload with seven runs in ninth to win, 9-2, and tie up ALCS

Alex Verdugo reacts to the Astros' rally in the ninth.
Alex Verdugo reacts to the Astros' rally in the ninth.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

The Astros scored seven runs in the top of the ninth to beat the Red Sox, 9-2, in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, evening it at two apiece. Read the full game story here.

Jason Castro hit a single off Nate Eovaldi — pitching in relief for the first time in more than two years — in the ninth that sent Carlos Correa home and put Houston on top.

[ Dan Shaughnessy: After two blowout wins, Red Sox loss to Astros in Game 4 changes the entire feeling of the series ]

The Sox couldn’t stop the hits after that. After Eovaldi walked Jose Altuve, manager Alex Cora tapped Martín Pérez to finish out the inning. The Astros scored six more runs — including three on a Michael Brantley double — to ice it.

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When Alex Bregman took a two-out pitch from Nick Pivetta deep in the first inning, it looked like Game 4 might end differently for the Red Sox than Games 2 and 3.

Xander Bogaerts quickly responded with a two-run blast that soared over the Monster seats, getting to Astros starter Zack Greinke and giving Boston a 2-1 lead.

Nothing changed on the scoreboard as Pivetta battled it out and the Astros cycled through four relief pitchers after Greinke was lifted in the second, until Jose Altuve took the first pitch Garrett Whitlock threw in the eighth for a solo home run.

Alex Cora opted to go with starter Nate Eovaldi in the ninth, and it didn’t work out. He threw just 24 pitches and allowed four runs while getting two out.

The series continues Wednesday at Fenway, with first pitch at 5:08 p.m. With the Astros’ win tonight, we’ll go to at least six games. Game 6 is scheduled for Friday in Houston at 8:08 p.m.

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Play-by-play | Box score | See more Sox coverage

Here’s how the game unfolded.


What’s next: Previewing Game 6 — 12:30 a.m.

Sale takes the mound against Framber Valdez in Game 6. The Houston bats, it appears, woke up in that ninth inning. Sale needs to give the Sox some quality innings, but if not, Tanner Houck is a well-rested option for the club to go to.

Cora and Baker were managing from opposite sides — 12:25 a.m.

The Red Sox went all-in during this one, and Cora will certainly face his share of backlash from Sox fans.

But consider: There’s a huge difference between going up 3-1 vs. knotting up, 2-2. Cora and the Sox didn’t want to go back to Houston, a fate that they will face with at least a Game 6 Friday.

Dusty Baker, meanwhile, wanted to get back to Houston, giving his team home-field advantage again. Cora and Baker were operating from two different sides of the spectrum but, ultimately, with the same goal in mind: winning the day.

That worked in Baker and the Astros’ favor Tuesday. Eovaldi threw 24 pitches. He’ll get the ball in Game 6 and despite the high pitch count, it won’t push his start date back. Nevertheless, it might retract some outs during his outing. If the Sox win Wednesday, the series is pretty much even moving forward.

Breaking down the loss: Umpiring was bad — 12:18 p.m.

Umpiring was bad on both sides, but Sox fans will remember that missed call by Laz Diaz on Nate Eovaldi’s splitter at the top of the zone which should have been the third strike in the ninth. Instead, Jason Castro stayed in the box and ended up hitting the go-ahead RBI, which cemented a seven-run inning and a 9-2 win for the Astros to knot the series up, 2-2.

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Sox lose, 9-2 — 12:12 a.m.

The Red Sox got two runners on base, but couldn’t muster more than that.

Sox get one more chance to rally — 11:57 p.m.

But with the stadium subdued after that seven-run outburst, it’ll be tough. Due up for the Sox: Arroyo, Schwarber, Hernández. Ryan Pressly is on the mound.

Another run — 11:56 p.m.

The Sox just can’t get out of this inning. Kyle Tucker has an RBI single that Hunter Renfroe couldn’t get to Kyle Schwarber at first in time.

Astros blow it open — 11:51 p.m.

The decision to bring in Eovaldi will linger over the Red Sox and Cora if they don’t pull this one out.

He threw 24 pitches in just two-thirds of an inning. Houston has now blown it open, 7-2.

What the Astros did right here — 11:47 p.m.

Dusty Baker made the shrewd move of substituting offense for defense. Maldonaldo, who was hitting just .043 this postseason was replaced with Castro in the seventh. It pays dividends in the ninth as he delivered the go-ahead RBI.

That’s it for Eovaldi — 11:46 p.m.

The ace walked Jose Altuve to load the bases with two outs, and he’s done after just 24 pitches.

Astros take the lead with two out in top of ninth — 11:42 p.m.

Jason Castro’s single with two outs in the top of the ninth sends Carlos Correa home.

Astros 3, Sox 2

Inside Eovaldi’s relief appearance — 11:34 p.m.

How Astros pitchers are getting to the Sox — 11:27 p.m.

The Astros have done a solid job of establishing the fastball in and expanding on sliders away. Even if the pitch on the inner-thirds isn’t a strike, it has kept the Red Sox hitters unsettled, leading to such a low-scoring game.

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Nate Eovaldi warming — 11:20 p.m.

Indeed, Eovaldi is warming in the Sox’ bullpen after pitching 5 ⅓ Saturday. It tells you how much the Sox want this game and how much they want to avoid going to Houston for a Game 6 or 7.

Whitlock responds well — 11:17 p.m.

Good response by Whitlock, who induces a double-play ball with no outs in the frame and then gets Yordan Alvarez to fly out.

To the bottom of the eighth we go, with the game knotted at two apiece.

Altuve gets to Whitlock — 11:10 p.m.

Altuve was 0 for his last 12 heading into that at-bat. Yet he hunts heaters, and was getting beat on the inner-half earlier in the game. Whitlock tried to go middle-in against him there and paid the price.

There it is — 11:08 p.m.

Jose Altuve takes Whitlock’s first pitch of the eighth deep.

It’s tied, 2-2.

This could decide the game — 11:05 p.m.

Due up in the top of the eighth: Altuve, Brantley, Bregman — the top of the Astros order. This will be Whitlock’s biggest test of the year and could likely decide this game.

That was the perfect spot for Whitlock — 10:56 p.m.

Whitlock is the prime candidate for this position. He’s been the linchpin to this Red Sox bullpen after he came over as a Rule 5 draft choice from the Yankees last offseason.

It’s become a battle of both bullpens in this game. So far, each move Cora has made has worked.

Red Sox are still up despite just three hits — 10:45 p.m.

The Red Sox have just three hits in this game, but still lead, 2-1. Their lone runs came on Bogaerts’s two-run blast in the first. Astros relievers have silenced the Sox’ bats, battling through 4 ⅔ innings of scoreless baseball after Greinke just went 1 ⅓.

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The Red Sox have had men on base every inning.

What is Cora doing with the bullpen? — 10:35 p.m.

Cora is going for it in this one. With Garrett Whitlock warming in the Sox bullpen, you would imagine Cora leans on him for two innings.

Who gets the ninth? Perhaps Eovaldi, who is in the bullpen this evening. The game will dictate what Cora decides.

Taylor gets Correa looking to get out of the sixth — 10:30 p.m.

Correa was waiting for a slider on that strike-three pitch, a pitch that Ottavino has mastered and one that Correa handles well.

Instead, Ottavino froze him with a heater down the middle of the plate for the third strike of the inning. The matchups worked in Cora and the Sox’ favor in that frame.

Why Alex Cora swapped Taylor for Ottavino — 10:24 p.m.

Cora brought Taylor in to face two lefties in this inning — Brantley and Alvarez. Lefties hit just .146 against Taylor this year. On the contrary, righties batted .327 vs. Taylor which is why Ottavino is in to face Correa.

Pivetta is done — 10:18 p.m.

His final line: 5 innings, 2 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, 3 Ks, 65 pitches, 36 of them for strikes.

Another lost opportunity — 10:16 p.m.

The Sox are 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position. Oof.

Pivetta is dealing, but it’s no surprise the bullpen is working — 10:07 p.m.

Despite Pivetta’s low pitch count, it’s no surprise that manager Alex Cora had his bullpen working that inning. Hitters bat .276 against Pivetta the third time through the order. Against a lineup like Houston, that could work against the Red Sox.

The Sox bullpen, meanwhile, is rested. It will be interesting to see what Cora does in the next frame with Pivetta with the Nos. 2, 3, 4 in the order due up. Still, Pivetta is dealing.

Missed call — 10:03 p.m.

It turns out Kyle Schwarber’s foot was off the bag on the final out of the top of the fifth. Rafael Devers chucked a long throw across the field in an effort to get Jose Altuve out. The umpire called it and preserved a 1-2-3 inning, but the replay showed that wasn’t the case.

Lots of missed opportunities at the plate for the Red Sox — 9:58 p.m.

Kyle Schwarber grabbed at his left hamstring during that last at-bat, which will be something to keep an eye on throughout this game and moving forward. Following Christian Arroyo’s one-out triple, Schwarber grounded out to the left side with the infield in and then Kiké Hernández popped out into foul territory.

The Sox have missed a number of opportunities this evening — they are 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position.

Ottavino warming up — 9:57 p.m.

Action in the Sox bullpen.

Schwarber tweaks hamstring — 9:50 p.m.

He spun all the way around on the first pitch of his at-bat in the fourth and immediately walked away to walk it off. Uh-oh.

He grounded out, but is back out at first for the top of the fifth.

What we’ve seen from Nick Pivetta so far — 9:47 p.m.

Nick Pivetta worked around a leadoff walk in the fourth. He’s steered his way through four innings and has yielded just a run, on that Bregman solo shot in the first. He’s induced a lot of weak contact, including four pop outs.

His fastball has life, particularly at the top of the zone, despite having so-so command. He’s drawn two check swings on pitches that were clearly up and out of the strike zone.

Cora patches it up with umpire — 9:39 p.m.

A huge missed call cost the Sox a baserunner — 9:32 p.m.

J.D. Martinez struck out on a called third strike in the bottom of the third.

That ball was clearly outside. Instead of having two on and one out the Sox had just one on with two outs. Huge missed call.

Alex Cora came out to argue the call, which was muddled by Martín Maldonado’s inability to throw down to try to catch the runner stealing second. He got into it with the home-plate umpire before Carlos Febles, the third-base coach, broke it up.

Renfroe then struck out. Red Sox are still up, 2-1. But they had a chance to make something happen if Martinez were on first.

Dodgers rally to beat Braves in NLCS Game 3 — 9:26 p.m.

The Dodgers, back in Chavez Ravine having lost the first two games in the NLCS, rallied with four runs in the eighth inning to win Game 3. Mookie Betts hit the game-winning double. Here’s the play-by-play.

The World Series is scheduled to start Tuesday.

Astros send Christian Javier out for bottom of the third — 9:20 p.m.

For once, a quiet second — 9:18 p.m.

The Red Sox failed to get a run across in that second inning after Devers flied out. They have scored a combined 10 runs in the second inning during this series. It’s the most of any team. Houston ranks second with 6.

That was a long inning — 9:14 p.m.

It’s Red Sox 2, Astros 1 entering the top of the third.

And Greinke is done — 9:00 p.m.

That’s three games in a row that an Astros starter hasn’t gotten through two innings. Greinke lasted just 1 ⅓ innings. In four games, Houston starters have combined combined 6 ⅔ innings total.

Brooks Raley is pitching now.

It was Greinke’s shortest start since 2012. Final line: 1 ⅓ innings, 1 hit, 2 runs, 3 walks, 37 pitches, 18 for strikes.

How the Astros’ bullpen usage impacts the Red Sox — 8:50 p.m.

Bregman ended the bottom of the first inning with a dazzling play to nab the force-out at second on a Hunter Renfroe grounder. Yet in that same frame, his errant throw following Alex Verdugo’s grounder forced Greinke to throw an extra 12 pitches. He’s at 28 entering the bottom of the second.

Greinke doesn’t appear as if he has it, so Astros manager Dusty Baker might be forced to utilize his pen for the fourth consecutive game. The Red Sox getting to the Houston bullpen might not mean much for this game. But if this series were to go beyond a Game 5, the Astros’ overall bullpen usage plays right into the Sox’ hands.

Why J.D. Martinez believes his ankle injury has been a blessing — 8:45 p.m.

Yes, you read that right. Alex Speier explains here.

Could they knock Greinke out early? — 8:35 p.m.

Inside this relentless offense — 8:31 p.m.

The Red Sox offense is relentless. They scored 334 runs with two outs in the regular season, tied with Tampa for the most in the majors. Bogaerts was 3 for 13 this series with seven strikeouts before that two-run homer.

Xander Bogaerts hits a 💣 — 8:26 p.m.

Xander Bogaerts scored a two-run homer with two outs in the first.

That’s 21 postseason homers for the Sox — they hold the MLB record.

What can we expect from Zack Greinke tonight? — 8:19 p.m.

Astros starters have only accounted for 5 ⅓ innings in three games this series. And when this series began, Zack Greinke was reportedly only stretched out to 40 pitches. The veteran righthander will take the ball for the Astros for Game 4 in what seems like a must-win game for the Astros.

Greinke pitched just 11 ⅓ innings in September and at the beginning of October, yielding a whopping 14 earned runs backed by five homers. He missed time in September after testing positive for COVID-19. Then, he was plagued by neck stiffness which required an injured-list stint. It resulted in just one inning during the American League Divisional Series.

That’s good news for the Red Sox, who have scored a whopping 26 runs in three games against the Astros. Greinke is a proven veteran starter, who will more than likely end up in the hall of fame. But the Red Sox are hoping the long layoff will work to their advantage.

How the Sox have hit against Greinke — 8:16 p.m.

Greinke is 4-6 with a 4.18 ERA over 20 postseason appearances, including 19 starts. Against the Red Sox, he is 2-5 with a 5.09 ERA in nine career games (eight starts). His numbers are even worse at Fenway Park, where he has gone 0-2 with a 10.22 ERA in four appearances (three starts).

Red Sox vs. Greinke: Christian Arroyo 0-2, Xander Bogaerts 1-2, Bobby Dalbec 1-1, Rafael Devers 1-2, Kiké Hernández 3-13, J.D. Martinez 5-18, Kevin Plawecki 2-6, Hunter Renfroe 7-23, Danny Santana 0-5, Kyle Schwarber 1-5, Travis Shaw 3-10, Alex Verdugo 1-8, Christian Vázquez 2-2.

Bregman, Astros strike first — 8:14 p.m.

If the Astros had any chance, they had to get on the board early. That’s exactly what happened with two outs in the first inning, when Alex Bregman took Nick Pivetta to the Monster seats.

T1: Astros 1, Sox 0

From the owner’s box — 8:12 p.m.

The last time John Henry was this visible around the Red Sox, Mookie Betts was still patrolling Fenway Park’s right field and the world had not yet heard of a virus called COVID-19.

But with his Sox staging a most surprising run through these baseball playoffs, Henry, who also owns the Globe, made his second public appearance in the last eight days.

Tara Sullivan found out what he had to say before Tuesday’s game.

One Red Sox player who might surprise us tonight — 8:08 p.m.

Watch Hunter Renfroe. He made a sliding catch to end the game last night, but is just 1 for 9 with five strikeouts so far this series.

What Alex Cora told Nick Pivetta in spring training came true — 7:59 p.m.

Before the game, manager Alex Cora said he told Nick Pivetta at start of spring training that Pivetta would make every start this year. That they believed in his stuff and that he had, arguably, some of the best stuff on the team.

Pivetta, indeed, made his starts this year, totaling 30 with just one appearance coming out of the bullpen in the regular season. He’s put together great efforts this postseason out of the bullpen, but now is asked to wear the hat of the starter once more.

When he spots his fastball, the rest of his stuff plays better, including his hammer for a curveball that he has exhibited well this postseason.

How the Astros have hit against Pivetta — 7:48 p.m.

Pivetta has made two relief appearances this postseason, including Game 3 of the ALDS against the Rays when he pitched four scoreless innings and registered seven strikeouts to pick up the win.

Astros vs. Pivetta: Jose Altuve 1-4, Yordan Alvarez 0-2, Alex Bregman 1-4, Jason Castro 0-2, Carlos Correa 1-3, Aledmys Díaz 1-5, Yuli Gurriel 1-5, Martín Maldonado 0-2, Kyle Tucker 2-3

Red Sox and Astros lineups — 7:28 p.m.

The Sox are rolling up the same lineup, and why wouldn’t they, after jumping out to 9-0 leads in each of the last two games. Jake Meyers, who has yet to play in the series after injuring his shoulder against the White Sox in Game 4 of the ALDS, is back in the lineup for Houston.

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

Pitching: RHP Zack Greinke (11-6, 4.16 ERA)

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

Pitching: RHP Nick Pivetta (9-8, 4.53 ERA)

Papi and ARod are back on Jersey Street — 7:20 p.m.

Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz and the rest of Fox Sports’ MLB studio show are going to be right in the thick of Red Sox Nation again.

A Fox Sports spokesperson told Chad Finn Tuesday afternoon that the network will not move its set to a different location at Fenway Park, a day after a raucous postgame scene on Jersey Street in which fans serenaded Rodriguez with chants and taunts that occasionally led to the network cutting the audio of its program.

While the crowd roared every time Ortiz paid acknowledgement, Rodriguez wore his familiar bull’s-eye, with fans occasionally mocking him with chants about his personal life, including his breakup with singer/actress Jennifer Lopez.

Here’s a sampling of the what it was like. Click here to see more.

What you missed — 7:10 p.m.

Here’s what you might have missed from our stories today:

Tonight’s weather report — 7:08 p.m.

It’s another brisk night in town, with the winds picking up to between 5-10mph and a low of 54 degrees. But that didn’t seem to bug the Red Sox last night.


Julian McWilliams can be reached at julian.mcwilliams@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @byJulianMack. Katie McInerney can be reached at katie.mcinerney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @k8tmac.