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Max Muncy homer does in Red Sox in 18-inning Game 3

Rob Bradford
October 27, 2018 - 3:37 am

LOS ANGELES -- This one will go down in the history books. The Red Sox now have to hope it doesn't lead them to the wrong side of history.

In what was the longest game in World Series history, Max Muncy's leadoff homer at 3:29 a.m. Eastern in the 18th inning gave the Dodgers a 3-2 win over the Red Sox. The 7-hour, 20-minute marathon cuts the Red Sox lead to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.

The final blow came off Nathan Eovaldi, who turned in a memorable effort out of the Red Sox' bullpen. The righty ended up going six innings, throwing 97 pitches, having entered the game in the 12th inning.

A few hours the game-winning honer, the Red Sox were one out away from celebrating a 13-inning win. But with Game 4's scheduled starter, Eovaldi, on the mound trying to close things out, and Los Angeles' Max Muncy standing at second base, Yasiel Puig hit a sharp grounder up the middle. Initially, it appeared as though second baseman Ian Kinsler was going to range over and make the game-ending play. But the infielder caught his cleat in the sod while charging the ball, resulting in a throw wide of first baseman Christian Vazquez (yes, Vazquez was playing first base), allowing Muncy to come in with the game-tying run.

The deadlock left the Red Sox needing to march on with no position players left on their bench, and only Drew Pomeranz and Chris Sale remaining as available pitchers. Neither would get in the game.

With Brock Holt standing at second base and nobody out, Eduardo Nunez dribbled a slow grounder just in front of the pitching mound. Dodgers reliever Scott Alexander ranged over, but errantly flipped the ball to first base with Nunez diving head-first into the bag. With the ball finding its way toward the Red Sox' dugout Holt easily came around to score the go-ahead run.

Adding to the intrigue of the play was that it didn't appear Nunez would get the chance to remain in the game to hit after writhing on the ground prior to the pitch thanks to catcher Austin Barnes rolling up on the hitter's injured ankle. After being tended to by the Sox' training staff and Cora, Nunez stayed in, allowing for his dash to first base. Once the pivotal play was complete Nunez remained on the ground in pain, opening the possibility that the Sox' might have to use Sale in the field with no position players available.

But Nunez remained in the game, even diving into the stands for the second out of the home half of the 13th.

For a brief momennt in the top of the 10th inning the Red Sox seemed primed for more Eduardo Nunez heroics when, with Kinsler at third base and one out, the pinch-hitter lofted a medium-range fly ball to center field. But Los Angeles' Cody Bellinger hit catcher Austin Barnes in the air, just up the line, allowing for a tag on the pinch-runner for the inning-ending double play.

Leading up to extra innings it appeared as though Alex Cora's instincts saved the Red Sox ... again.

The manager's choice to start Jackie Bradley Jr. over Andrew Benintendi was right on the money with Bradley Jr. not only coming up with a pair of hits but one of the biggest ones of the postseason when he tied the game at 1-1 with two outs in the eighth inning with a homer off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen.

Up until Bradley Jr.'s homer, the undeniable biggest story of the night was Dodgers' starter Walker Buehler. 

Buehler was the guy who the Red Sox passed on in the 2012 draft after having dinner with him and his parents in a Lexington, Kentucky restaurant. At the time then-amateur scouting director Amiel Sawdaye was wary of the high schooler's slight frame. ("I don't blame them," the pitcher said Monday at Fenway Park. "I was only about 150 pounds.") Three years later he went 25th overall to the Dodgers.

The Red Sox' re-introduction to Buehler was painful.

Buehler absolutely dominated for his seven shutout innings, allowing a pair of singles -- to Bradley Jr. and Vazquez -- while not walking a batter and striking out seven. Throughout the 108-pitch outing, the righty made the Sox seem helpless, getting Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez on strikes two times each.

The Red Sox' pitchers almost kept pace, with the only blemish off starter Rick Porcello in his 4 2/3 innings coming on a first-pitch, meaty changeup which Joc Pederson deposited over the right-field fence for a solo homer.

As has been the case for most of the postseason, the starter's relatively short outing didn't catch up to the Red Sox with Eduardo Rodriguez (striking out his only batter, Pederson), Joe Kelly, Ryan Brasier and Matt Barnes holding the Dodgers scoreless. That's when the bullpen usage started getting a little funky.

Cora decided to start the ninth inning with Game 2 starter David Price, who ultimately gave way to Craig Kimbrel with two outs and a runner at first. Kimbrel walked Chris Taylor to put runners on first second before getting pinch-hitter Brian Dozier to pop out.

Then came Heath Hembree for a scoreless inning, followed by Eovaldi.

Related: Recap of Red Sox, Dodgers epic Game 3