LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Boston Red Sox overcame a late four run deficit to defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-6 in Game Four of the World Series on Saturday and take a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
The Red Sox scored five runs in the top of the ninth behind RBI hits by Rafael Devers, Steve Pearce and Xander Bogaerts to complete the comeback and put themselves one win away from their fourth World Series title since 2004.
“This team has a lot of fight,” first baseman Pearce, whose bases loaded double in the ninth put the game out of reach, said after the game.
Saturday’s game was played the day after the Dodgers won an 18 inning, seven hour and 20 minute contest in Friday’s Game Three that taxed both sides.
Red Sox second baseman Brock Holt said his team’s ability to bounce back from that loss showed his club’s resiliency.
“Last night, what a baseball game. To lose that one, that one hurt,” he said. “To come out and start out slow but finish like we did it just shows what this team is capable of.”
The Dodgers appeared to have Saturday’s win in hand when Justin Turner scored on an error and Yasiel Puig smashed a three-run home run in the sixth inning to put the home team up 4-0.
But Dodgers manager Dave Roberts pulled starting pitcher Rich Hill in the seventh inning despite Hill only giving up one hit and dominating Boston’s potent lineup on a chilly Southern California evening.
Left-hander Scott Alexander came in and walked the only batter he faced before being replaced by struggling reliever Ryan Madson.
Madson gave up a three-run home run to pinch hitter Mitch Moreland later in the inning to cut the Dodgers lead to one.
Roberts then brought closer Kenley Jansen in to try and pitch out the final two innings but the move backfired when Steve Pearce hit a solo home run to tie the game at 4-4.
The floodgates opened for Boston in the top of the final frame with the biggest hit coming from Pearce, whose bases clearing double drove in Devers, Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi in the five-run ninth.
Kiki Hernandez cut the lead with a two-run home run in the bottom of half of inning but it was not enough for the Dodgers, who are trying to win their first title in 30 years.
Roberts defended his controversial decision to pull Hill, telling reporters after the game that the lefty told him he was tiring.
“He said, ‘Keep an eye on me. I’m going to give it everything I have. Let’s go hitter to hitter and just keep an eye on me,’” Roberts said.
“So right there, I know Rich did everything he could, competed, left everything out there.”
The loss is the Dodgers’ first of the season when they had a four run lead. They had been 54-0 in those games before Saturday.
Game Five will be played at Dodger Stadium on Sunday and will feature a clash of left-handed aces with David Price taking the mound for the Red Sox and Clayton Kershaw getting the call for the Dodgers.
The team leading 3-1 has won the World Series 85 percent of the time.
Editing by Greg Stutchbury and Sudipto Ganguly