MILWAUKEE – Justin Turner and the Los Angeles Dodgers know all about performing in the postseason.
Backed into a tough spot Saturday, the red-headed slugger delivered once again.
Shut down for most of the afternoon, Los Angeles staged another late rally and Turner hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning to lift the Dodgers over the Milwaukee Brewers for a 4-3 victory that evened the NL Championship Series at a game apiece.
Kenta Maeda survived a crucial mistake. With a 4-3 Dodgers’ lead and two outs in the eighth, Maeda entered the game with the tying run on first base. The right-hander fell behind to pinch-hitting veteran Curtis Granderson and missed dead center with a 3-1 fastball.
Granderson, who finished last season with the Dodgers, hammered the ball and brought the Miller Park crowd to its feet, but failed to clear the wall. Instead, right fielder Yasiel Puig hauled it in on the warning track.
“The second he hit it, I was a little stunned,” Maeda said. “It was a great win, coming back the way we did. I think we have a lot of tough games ahead of us, so it isn’t going to be easy by any means.”
The high-powered Dodgers had two measly singles off Wade Miley before breaking through against one of baseball’s best bullpens.
After forcing the Brewers to use six relievers in Milwaukee’s 6-5 victory Friday night, the NL West champions put that extended look to good use in Game 2, especially against faltering All-Star Jeremy Jeffress.
“As long as we have outs left, we know we’re in the game,” Turner said.
Astros 7, Red Sox 2
In Boston, with low temperatures numbing their fingertips as they tried to grip the baseball, Justin Verlander and Chris Sale both struggled to get the ball over the plate.
Verlander recovered quickly. Sale never did.
After walking in one run and giving up the tying score on a wild pitch, Verlander struck out Andrew Benintendi on a contested called third strike, and the Houston Astros pulled away to beat the Boston Red Sox 7-2 on Saturday night in the AL Championship Series opener.
The teams combined for just eight hits, but Red Sox pitchers walked 10 and hit three batters. Verlander walked four — tying a career postseason high, and more than he had in any outing in the regular season this year. Three of them — and one of his two wild pitches — came in a fifth inning that almost chased him from the game.
“That inning I had kind of lost my feel a bit. Couldn’t point a finger to why,” Verlander said. “The tying run scoring was a little disappointing. . . . But once that happens, then you’ve got to reset and not relinquish the lead.”
Verlander pitched six innings of two-hit ball, and Carlos Correa fisted a single into left field to break a sixth-inning tie. Josh Reddick hit a solo homer to lead off the ninth, and Yuli Gurriel curled a three-run shot into the front row beyond the Pesky Pole to give the defending World Series champions their fifth straight postseason victory.