LOS ANGELES - Kenta Maeda was tasked with getting one out, but four ninth-inning runs scored before he could do so and it cost the Los Angeles Dodgers dearly in a 9-6 loss to the Boston Red Sox in World Series Game 4 on Saturday.
The win gives the Red Sox, who trailed 4-0 after six innings at Dodger Stadium, a chance to clinch the best-of-seven series in Sunday’s Game 5.
Maeda who had pitched two scoreless innings in the Dodgers’ 3-2, 18-inning win on Friday, entered the game in the ninth to face Steve Pearce with two outs and the bases loaded. Pearce’s eighth-inning home run off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen had tied the game 4-4.
“If I shut them down there, the game is up for grabs,” said Maeda, who admitted Friday’s marathon had taken its toll. “Of course, physically I’m not in my normal condition, but it’s not just me. It’s everyone. All the pitchers who threw yesterday were feeling it.”
“There are a lot of ways to get people out when you’re not in the best condition, so I really wanted to get him out.”
The right-handed-hitting Pearce swung and missed at a first-pitch slider from the Japanese right-hander. Maeda then threw a fastball on the outside part of the plate that Pearce drove to the wall in right-center on a hop for a three-run double.
“He (Pearce) is a good at-bat,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “He doesn’t expand, he stays in the zone. He’s able to go the other way, as he did today. He was a little out in front of the first one and then he gets a fastball and shoots it the other way. He’s a complete hitter.”
After an intentional walk, Pearce scored on a Xander Bogaerts’ single to give the visitors a 9-4 lead.
The runs proved costly after the Dodgers scored two in the bottom of the inning off Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, who walked the leadoff man before Kike Hernandez homered to pull LA within three.
A night after neither team showed much offense in Game 3, the score remained 0-0 until a run came home against Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez on a two-out error in the sixth. With two on, Yasiel Puig homered to make it 4-0.
Cora said he was conflicted about whether to stay with Rodriguez to face Puig or go with the bullpen.
“I like that matchup when Eduardo’s fresh,” Cora said. “I had Barnsey (right-handed reliever Matt Barnes) in the bullpen, and I was kicking myself about that for a couple of innings until we came back.”
But with one out and two on in the top of the seventh, Dodgers starter Rich Hill was pulled from the game. Reliever Ryan Madson got one out before pinch hitter Mitch Moreland blasted a three-run homer.
For the second straight night, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts sent Jansen out in the eighth inning. And for the second straight night, the closer surrendered a game-tying solo home run.
With the score tied in the top of the ninth, Dodger reliever Dylan Floro allowed a one-out double to Brock Holt, who scored on a Rafael Devers single to give Boston its first lead of the night. After a two-out intentional walk, Andrew Benintendi singled off Alex Wood to load the bases, with Maeda coming on after.