LOS ANGELES — Red Sox manager Alex Cora threw his pregame plans in the air in the 12th inning of Game 3 of the World Series on Friday night/Saturday morning. He sent Game 4 starter Nathan Eovaldi out to pitch, wagering the righthander could hold the Los Angeles Dodgers down long enough for his team to find a way to win.
The gamble almost worked. The Sox took the lead in the 13th inning and were one out away from putting the series in a headlock when the Dodgers scored on an error to tie the score.
That was only the start of the drama. One of the most memorable games in World Series history finally ended in the 18th inning when Max Muncy homered to beat the Sox, 3-2.
It was the longest World Series game by inning and time – 7 hours and 20 minutes. The game ended at 3:30 a.m. Boston time.
Now, instead of a 3-0 series lead, the Sox are up 2-1 with a depleted pitching staff. Game 4 will be Saturday at 8:09 p.m. Both teams have not named a starter for Game 4.
A bigger question will be how the Sox bounce back from what was a wrenching game to lose.
“Tired out mentally, physically, and emotionally. That was a long, tough game,” said Jackie Bradley Jr., whose eighth-inning home run forced extra innings. “It had a little taste of everything.
“But we have to do what we did all season, flush it and move on.”
With Eovaldi into his seventh inning, Muncy led off with a homer to left field that brought the fans remaining in Dodger Stadium to life.
“There’s not many words I can use to describe that. The feeling was just pure joy and incredible excitement,” said Muncy, who also scored on the error in the 13th.
Eovaldi, pitching for the third time in four days, threw 97 pitches but was still in the upper 90s with his fastball. It was a remarkable effort.
“That was one of the best performances probably in the history of the World Series,” Cora said.
Eovaldi fell behind Muncy 3 and 0 then threw a full-count cutter up and over the outer half of the plate. Muncy didn’t miss it.
“It’s frustrating to me,” Eovaldi said.
Eovaldi told Cora and the coaches that he wanted to finish the game no matter what.
“The adrenalin was kicking in,” he said. “I felt good the whole time. I wanted to stay in.”
Said Cora: “What Nate did tonight, that was amazing.”
Both runs in the 13th came on errors. Brock Holt drew a walk off Scott Alexander. With Eduardo Nunez up, Holt stole second. Catcher Austin Barnes got tangled up with Nunez and never made a throw.
Nunez fell to the dirt and had to be attended to by a trainer. When he got back to the plate, Nunez hit a grounder to the right side. Alexander threw the ball away and Holt scored. Nunez fell on that play too and was helped up. But he had little choice but to stay in the game.
Eovaldi walked Muncy leading off the bottom of the inning, then got two outs. The second was a foul ball that Nunez caught as he tumbled into the stands, which allowed Muncy to move up.
Yasiel Puig followed with a grounder up the middle that Ian Kinsler fielded. His off-balance throw to first went wide and Muncy scored.
“I was trying to keep the ball in with a guy on second base, try not to let that ball go up the middle,” Kinsler said. “I overran it a little bit and then when I planted to turn to throw, the turf kind of gave way in the act of throwing and just sailed it wide.
“I just had the last out in my glove and couldn’t get it over there. It was tough to swallow.”
Said Cora: “We had some situations that we could have put them away and then we didn’t. And at the end we paid the price.”
It was the first extra-inning World Series game for the Red Sox since Game 6 against the New York Mets in 1986. The Sox used 23 of their 25 players, all but pitchers Chris Sale and Drew Pomeranz.
Twelve players were in the No. 9 spot of the order at various points of the game, eight of them pitchers.
Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts were a combined 0 for 15 at the top of the lineup. Christian Vazquez caught 11 innings, then played first base. He had not played that position since 2010 in Single A.
The top four spots of the Red Sox order were 0 for 28 with 12 strikeouts.
Dodgers starter Walker Buehler shut the Red Sox out for seven innings, allowing two hits and striking out seven without a walk. He turned a 1-0 lead over to closer Kenley Jansen in the eighth inning.
In pursuit of a six-out save, Jansen got two of them before Bradley connected on a cut fastball and drove it deep into the right field stands to tie the game. The usually business-like Bradley raised his right hand as he rounded first base in jubilation as the sellout crowd of 53,114 fell silent. It was the third homer of this postseason for Bradley and his 10th RBI in 12 games.
The bullpens took over from there, and Matt Barnes, David Price, Craig Kimbrel, and Heath Hembree held the Dodgers scoreless for four innings.
The Sox missed a chance to take the lead in the top of the 10th. J.D. Martinez drew a walk off Pedro Baez with one out. Kinsler ran for Martinez and went to third when Brock Holt singled to center field. Nunez pinch hit and sent a fly ball to center field, just deep enough for Kinsler to tag.
Cody Bellinger’s strong throw was a few feet up the third base line, but Barnes dropped the tag on Kinsler to end the inning as the crowd roared.
The Red Sox went in order in the top of the first inning. But it appeared to be a productive inning because Buehler needed 26 pitches to record those three outs. Betts, Bogaerts, and Mitch Moreland fouled off 11 pitches, making the 24-year-old righthander work hard.
Red Sox starter Rick Porcello retired eight of the first nine batters he saw. When leadoff hitter Joc Pederson came up again in the third inning, Porcello started him with a changeup over the plate. Pederson let the pitch get deep and drove it over the fence in right field for his second home run of the postseason.
Porcello was sharp otherwise. He allowed three hits, walked one and struck out five over 4 2/3 innings and 61 pitches.