LOS ANGELES — From the emotional rubble of an 18-inning loss on Friday night, the Red Sox have come back to take control of the World Series.
It was another perilous, at times unfathomable, game on Saturday night. But this time the Red Sox held on for a 9-6 victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Sox now lead the Series three games to one with Game 5 on Sunday at 8:15 p.m. (EDT). In a postgame switch, the Sox decided to have David Price start against Clayton Kershaw with a chance to pitch the Sox to their fourth championship of this century.
“We needed that one after last night,” said Mitch Moreland, one of the pillars of a comeback win.
Down, 4-0, going into the seventh inning, the Sox came back on home runs from Moreland and Steve Pearce to tie the game. They then took the lead with a five-run ninth inning.
“One thing about our team we keep playing,” manager Alex Cora said.
Closer Craig Kimbrel, unreliable throughout this playoff run, allowed a two-run home run by Enrique Hernandez before getting the final three outs to avoid more agonizing extra innings.
The Sox sent 10 batters to the plate in the ninth inning, leaving Dodger Stadium sounding more like Fenway Park.
Brock Holt, always in the middle of something, doubled to left field off Dylan Floro. When Rafael Devers pinch hit, the Dodgers did not have a lefthander ready.
Devers drove a single into center and Holt scored. The 22-year-old Devers has nine RBIs in 10 postseason games this season.
“Alex tells us to stay ready all game,” Devers said. “When my moment came, I was ready.”
With the bases loaded, Pearce ripped a three-run double to the gap in right. Xander Bogaerts followed with an RBI single.
The extra runs proved vital when Kimbrel was again shaky before closing it out. He has allowed seven runs over 10⅔ innings in the postseason.
“There’s only two teams left in the big leagues right now, and both teams are going to fight till the end,” Cora said. “We did it, they did it, too, until the last inning.”
If the Sox finish their season with a parade, it will be on the strength of how they played away from Fenway. They are 6-1 on the road in the postseason, scoring 51 runs.
Overall, the Sox have won seven of their last eight postseason games.
The preparation for Game 4 began immediately after Game 3 when Cora called one of the few team meetings of this season.
“I told them how proud I was. That was epic,” Cora said. “To play baseball for seven hours and whatever minutes and to grind from Pitch 1 all the way to the last pitch, that was awesome.”
Cora also singled out Nathan Eovaldi for throwing six innings and 97 pitches in relief. The other players stood and applauded.
“It’s another day,” Cora said. “I got a text from a good friend of mine, a manager in the big leagues. He’s like, ‘It took 18 innings to get one win against you guys.’ Good point, brother. It was a great game.”
A short while later, the Sox decided to start Eduardo Rodriguez. The lefthander faced one batter on Friday and threw six pitches.
Rodriguez had not started a game since Sept. 20 and had never started a game in the postseason. Cora told him not to hold anything back.
“I did everything I could,” Rodriguez said.
That proved to be longer than anybody could have reasonably expected. Rodriguez had a two-hit shutout through five innings and 80 pitches, matching Dodgers starter Rich Hill pitch for pitch in a scoreless game.
That started to unravel in the sixth inning when Rodriguez hit leadoff hitter David Freese, who was replaced by pinch runner Hernandez.
After a strikeout of Dodgers Game 3 hero Max Muncy, Rodriguez allowed a double down the left-field line by Justin Turner.
Cora intentionally walked Manny Machado to load the bases and get to lefthanded hitting Cody Bellinger.
The Sox got what they wanted, a groundball to first base. Pearce fired to the plate for the force but the return throw from Christian Vazquez went down the right-field line and Turner scored.
Vazquez’s throw was to the outside of the baseline and Pearce could not get to the ball.
Yasiel Puig, a righthanded hitter, was next but Cora stayed with Rodriguez even with Joe Kelly warmed up.
Predictably for a tiring pitcher, Rodriguez fell behind 3 and 1 and when he came with a fastball it was smack down the middle.
Puig hits mistakes and this one he drove deep into the bleachers in left field.
Rodriguez took one look then fired his glove down.
Cora regretted the decision.
“I pushed him too hard. I had Joe ready,” he said.
Down 4-0, the Sox charged back, pushed by Sale shouting at his teammates in the dugout to get going.
“I think that kind of lit a fire under everybody. We didn’t want to see him mad any more,” Holt said.
Devers grinned and said he was a little scared.
“I had never heard him say those words before,” he said.
Bogaerts drew a leadoff walk off Hill in the seventh. With one out, Hill was lifted after 91 pitches and received a standing ovation after one of the best-pitched games of his career, especially considering the circumstances.
Reliever Scott Alexander walked Holt. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts then made a mistake that matched Cora’s, going to Ryan Madson.
The righthander had allowed five inherited runners to score in the first two games of the series. This time Madson got an out before Moreland pinch hit and belted a towering home run to right field on the first pitch.
Moreland had watched Madson retire Jackie Bradley Jr. on a popup and came to the plate with a plan.
“I saw him throw a couple of changeups to Jackie up in the zone. I decided, why not sit on that one first pitch?” he said. “When he threw it, I saw it pretty good and put a good swing on it.”
Roberts turned to Kenley Jansen in the eighth inning. That didn’t work on Friday and it failed again on Saturday when Pearce homered to left field to tie the game.