Left fielder Andrew Benintendi made a diving catch with the bases loaded for the final out, and the Boston Red Sox held off the Houston Astros 8-6 on Wednesday night to take a 3-1 lead in the AL Championship Series.
Boosted by a questionable fan interference call and another home run from Jackie Bradley Jr. in a gripping back-and-forth game, the Red Sox moved within one victory of their first World Series trip since winning the 2013 title.
Craig Kimbrel earned a shaky six-out save, aided by a rocket throw from right fielder Mookie Betts and Benintendi’s daring grab of Alex Bregman’s sinking liner in left. Boston improved to 4-0 on the road in these playoffs and inched closer to eliminating the defending champions.
Game 5 is Thursday night in Houston, where ace Justin Verlander will pitch for the Astros with their season on the line. David Price, who was warming up in the bullpen late in Game 4, will start for Boston on three days’ rest after Chris Sale was ruled out Wednesday while recovering from a stomach illness.
Bradley hit a go-ahead homer in the sixth inning, his latest huge swing for a Red Sox team that was knocked out of the postseason by Houston in the Division Series last year.
Boston has won three straight after a Game 1 loss, and this one came with some controversy after Houston star Jose Altuve was denied a two-run homer in the first inning because of fan interference.
Boston trailed by one with two outs in the sixth when Christian Vazquez doubled to deep right-center. Center fielder George Springer nearly made a leaping catch, but the ball glanced off his glove.
Bradley, who hit a grand slam in Game 3 and a three-run double in Game 2, put the Red Sox on top 6-5 with his soaring shot to right field on the next pitch from rookie Josh James.
Boston got some insurance in the seventh when Lance McCullers walked in a run after taking over for Ryan Pressly with the bases loaded and two outs. J.D. Martinez padded the lead further with an RBI single in the eighth.
Houston cut the lead to two on an RBI groundout by Altuve in the eighth.
Red Sox starter Rick Porcello allowed seven hits and four runs in four innings. Joe Kelly was the winner after giving up a run in the fifth.
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