David Price came to Boston to win, and he pitched Red Sox to World Series title
LOS ANGELES — David Price walked off the mound in the eighth inning with his head held high on Sunday night as the thousands of Red Sox fans at Dodger Stadium cheered wildly.
After a few steps he slapped his left hand over his heart once, twice and then a third time and walked down the dugout steps to the eager embrace of his teammates.
Price did what he promised, pitching the Red Sox to a World Series championship as they beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 5-1.
The lefthander allowed one run over seven dominant innings, winning for the second time in the Series to banish the postseason demons of seasons past.
“This is why I came here. This is what I envisioned,” said Price. “This feeling right here, being World Series champs, this is why I came to Boston. I’m happy we were able to do it.”
Series Most Valuable Player Steve Pearce hit two of the four home runs by the Red Sox, giving Price, Joe Kelly and Chris Sale all the support they needed to finish off the Dodgers in five games.
The Sox allowed only three hits and it was Sale who ended the season with a swinging strikeout of an overmatched Manny Machado.
As catcher Christian Vazquez leaped into Sale’s arms, Price wrapped his teammates in a hug, having sprinted out of the dugout.
Sox pitchers retired 20 of the last 21 batters, the last six by strikeout.
“From Day 1 we were a family,” manager Alex Cora told his players before he was covered in champagne. “Throughout the year we added people to the equation. They were amazing. I’m proud of you guys. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Cora became the first rookie manager to win the World Series since Bob Brenly of the Arizona Diamondbacks 2001. The 43-year-old said from the first day of spring training he had a championship team and they fulfilled that promise with his leadership.
“I can’t even imagine what’s going on in Boston,” said Cora, a former Sox player who skillfully handled one of the toughest jobs in sports, mixing a reliance on analytics with the humanity needed to gain the faith of his players.
It was the organization’s fourth championship over the last 15 seasons, the most in baseball over that period and the most this century.
The Red Sox are 16-3 in the World Series since 2004, outscoring the National League teams by a whopping 56 runs.
The title was the 11th for a Boston team since 2002.
Of greater significance for Cora, the coaches and players is the undeniable fact that these Red Sox will be remembered as one of the best teams in the history of their sport.
“I think we are,” center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. said. “I’d put us up against anybody.”
The Sox won 108 games in the regular season then tore through the postseason, winning 11 of 14 games. They eliminated the 100-win Yankees in the Division Series, then beat the defending champion Houston Astros, a team that won 103 games, in the ALCS.
Since the start of spring training, the Sox were 141-66-1.
“This is the greatest Red Sox team in history,” principal owner John Henry said.
Price was at the center of it all. He pitched the Red Sox into the World Series by beating Astros ace Justin Verlander in the clinching game. Then he outpitched Clayton Kershaw, another Cy Young Award winner.
After years of carrying the burden of pitching poorly in the postseason, Price put the Red Sox on his back.
“What D.P. did . . . what we did, it all came out when we got that final out,” Rick Porcello said. “I can’t stop crying.”
The Red Sox initially planned to start Sale but switched to Price after winning Game 4 on Saturday night.
Price started Game 2 on Wednesday and threw 88 pitches, then got two outs in relief in Game 3. But he wanted the ball against Kershaw despite the workload.
“He was a horse,” Vazquez said. “That was one of the best games he’s pitched.”
Price commanded the strike zone and worked at what for him was a swift pace. He allowed only three hits, one on a misjudged fly ball, walked two, and struck out five. Price retired 14 Dodgers in a row before finally coming out in the eighth inning.
The Red Sox started fast against Kershaw. The second batter of the game, Andrew Benintendi, singled to center field. Pearce then jumped on a first-pitch fastball and drove it over the wall in left-center for his second home run in as many nights.
The Dodgers answered back in the bottom of the inning when David Freese hit the first pitch from Price into the seats in right field.
Price then walked Justin Turner on five pitches. But Enrique Hernandez obligingly swung at the first pitch he saw and grounded into a double play.
“That was big,” Price said. “There was momentum after that.”
The next challenge for Price came in the third inning, when Freese sent a routine fly ball to right field that J.D. Martinez lost in the southern California twilight.
The ball fell to the clumpy turf and by the time Martinez picked it up, Freese had a one-out triple.
Price bailed his teammate out. With the infield in, he got Turner to ground to shortstop and Freese froze at third. Hernandez then fouled out to right field and Martinez made the play.
The lead grew to 4-1 on solo home runs by Mookie Betts (sixth inning) and Martinez (seventh inning). Pearce added another home run in the eighth inning, off Pedro Baez.
Pearce drove in eight runs in the series, 11 for the postseason.
For Betts, the home run snapped an 0-for-13 skid and was the first of his career in the postseason.
“We did what we set out to do,” Betts said. “Nothing can be better than that. We’re bringing that trophy home.”
MORE PHOTOS FROM GAME 5
Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.