LOS ANGELES — An 18-inning loss in Game 3 of the World Series couldn’t wear out the Boston Red Sox. A four-run deficit late in Game 4 definitely didn’t faze them.
This plucky powerhouse just kept getting big hits to move to the brink of another championship.
Steve Pearce hit a tying homer in the eighth and a three-run double in the ninth, and the Red Sox emphatically rallied for a 9-6 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday.
Pinch-hitter Rafael Devers singled home Brock Holt with the tiebreaking run in the ninth as Boston roared to a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven matchup.
Game 5 is Sunday at Dodger Stadium, where the Red Sox have a chance to close out a spectacular season with their fourth title in 15 years.
Shortly after Yasiel Puig’s three-run homer in the sixth put the Dodgers up 4-0, Boston’s incredible surge began with pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland’s three-run homer.
The Red Sox will have trouble topping this performance, in which they overcame a three-run deficit in a World Series game for only the second time. Boston also rallied from three runs down against Cincinnati in 1975 in Game 6, best known for Carlton Fisk’s dramatic homer in the 12th after Bernie Carbo tied it with a three-run shot.
Pearce was an unlikely candidate to become the latest postseason hero in Boston’s lengthy October history, but he did it twice. The 35-year-old journeyman connected off All-Star closer Kenley Jansen for the tying homer in the eighth, and he cleared the bases one inning later with a double to the gap.
After this impressive escape, the superlative Boston roster that won 108 regular-season games and then rolled through the 100-win New York Yankees and the defending champion Houston Astros to win the AL pennant is now one win from this formerly tormented franchise’s ninth World Series crown.
Enrique Hernandez hit a two-run homer in the ninth for Los Angeles, which could become the first team to lose the World Series on its home field in back-to-back seasons since the New York Giants lost at the Polo Grounds to the Yankees in 1936 and 1937.
Devers added a big defensive play in the ninth when he slid to stop Manny Machado’s hard grounder at third before throwing across the diamond to get the Dodgers slugger for the second out. Craig Kimbrel then got Cody Bellinger on a fly to end it, leaving Puig in the on-deck circle.
Less than 17 hours after Max Muncy’s 18th-inning homer for the Dodgers ended the longest game in World Series history at 7 hours, 20 minutes, the teams were back on the field in Chavez Ravine.
Game 4 was only 3 hours, 57 minutes, but had at least as many dramatic twists.
Muncy went 1 for 5 in Game 4 after his early-morning heroics for the Dodgers, who must overcome a 3-1 deficit to end their 30-year championship drought. Only six teams have accomplished the feat in the World Series, although the Chicago Cubs did it just two years ago.
After Dodgers starter Rich Hill baffled Boston with one-hit ball into the seventh inning, Los Angeles was up 4-0 and needing just seven outs to even the series. The Dodgers’ embattled bullpen was shredded by Boston’s bats.
Moreland got the comeback started with his three-run shot off Ryan Madson.
Pearce then repeated the Game 3 feat of Jackie Bradley Jr., who also hit a tying homer off Jansen in the eighth.
Dodger Stadium was already rumbling with tension and fear when Holt doubled in the ninth off Dylan Floro. Devers sent him home with a single to center — and three batters later, Pearce cleared the bases.
Pearce even scored Boston’s ninth run on Xander Bogaerts’ single, celebrating wildly with his teammates in quiet Chavez Ravine.
Pitching actually dominated early in Game 4 on the second straight postcard-perfect night at Dodger Stadium.
These big-budget lineups combined for just three hits in the first five scoreless innings — and they needed only about 90 minutes to play them after Friday’s 440-minute affair.
After throwing only six pitches of relief in Game 3, Eduardo Rodriguez largely stymied the Dodgers over the first five innings.
Hill was also dominant early in his third career World Series start, allowing no hits until Christian Vazquez’s single in the fifth.
The Dodgers finally got it going in the sixth when Rodriguez hit leadoff hitter David Freese with a pitch near the knee and Justin Turner doubled down the left-field line to send pinch-runner Hernandez to third. With the bases loaded, Bellinger grounded to first and Boston got the force at home, but Vazquez’s throw sailed past first base and down the right field line, allowing Turner to scamper home.
Puig then crushed a 92 mph fastball over the middle deep into the left-field bleachers, raising his arms in triumph while Rodriguez slammed down his glove in pure frustration. The ebullient Cuban right fielder has gone in and out of favor in Los Angeles, but his homer was his 50th postseason hit, fourth-most in Dodgers history.
Hill walked the leadoff hitter in the seventh, but left to a standing ovation with one out.
The LA bullpen that threw 11 innings of five-hit ball in Game 3 only needed to get eight outs — but it didn’t happen. Embattled right-hander Ryan Madson left a changeup over the middle to Moreland, who bashed it into right for his first homer of this postseason.
The Dodger Stadium stands were packed with iconic Los Angeles athletes from Sandy Koufax and Magic Johnson to Kobe Bryant, who read the Dodgers’ starting lineup before watching from the front row in a Machado jersey. For the first pitch, Dennis Eckersley took the mound in an Athletics jersey for a toss to Kirk Gibson, whose game-ending homer off Eck in the 1988 World Series still looms larger than Muncy’s blast in Dodgers history, depending on the outcome of this series.
STARTING FROM ZERO
After throwing just six pitches in Game 3, Rodriguez threw 93 in Game 4. The left-hander became the first pitcher to start a World Series game on zero days’ rest since Firpo Marberry did it for the Washington Senators in 1924.
Red Sox: Manager Alex Cora hasn’t made it official, but Chris Sale is almost certain to go, since he didn’t have to pitch in Game 4. He gave up three runs over four-plus innings in the series opener, but struck out seven.
Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw makes his fourth career World Series start. The Los Angeles ace gave up five runs on seven hits while pitching just four-plus innings in the series opener in Boston.