JIMMY GOLEN Sports Writer AP
BOSTON – Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez walked down the hill with a six-round lead and a message for Carlos Correa and the rest of the Houston Astros:
It’s time for Boston.
Tapping on the wrist to simulate a celebration of Correa’s first game, Rodriguez drove four more Boston homers, including Kyle Schwarber’s record-breaking Grand Slam, to a 12-3 win on Monday night, with the Red Sox leading a 2-1 win … -seven American League championships.
One game after JD Martinez and Rafael Devers hit the grand slams, Schwarber hit 430 feet in the second inning of 3 and 0 in the right-hand side of the pitch. Boston are the first team to have three slams in a postseason streak.
Martinez and Devers scored home again, Christian Arroyo also scored one at a time, and Quique Hernandez had two more hits to Boston that could advance to the World Series with wins at Fenway Park in games 4 and 5 on Tuesday night and Wednesday … The Astros need to win at least one to send the streak back to Houston.
Rodriguez gave up five punches, including three-way homer Kyle Tucker, and struck out seven. He fired Correa to finish sixth and reminded the Astros shortstop that one win wasn’t enough – a move reprimanded by Boston manager Alex Cora, who celebrated his 46th birthday.
The Red Sox had 11 hits, becoming the first team in major league history to hit double digits six times in a row in a single postseason. Hernandez has 18 playoff hits and is hitting .500, both leading the major events.
Taking advantage of two Astros mistakes and a fight by Houston starter Jose Urkidi, the Red Sox opened their second straight game with a 9-0 lead.
Rodriguez, who missed out all of last season due to COVID-related heart problems, dropped out of the first six players before running into trouble in the third when Tucker scored 9-3.
Rodriguez’s efforts kept Corey keeping Nick Pivetta fresh for the start of Game 4. Urkidi gave up six runs, five earned, five hits and two walks, knocking out one in 1-2 / 3 innings.
Right fielder Hunter Renfro finished the game with a jump on the Correa liner.
To the delight of Fenway fans who attacked him with unholy chants for his role in the 2017 Astros cheating scandal, Jose Altuve fought on the plate and on the field.
Gold Glove winner and AL MVP, three-time batting champion got a 0 out of 4 and allowed Arroyo’s chopper to bounce off his chest with a base loading error in the second inning. One slugger later, Schwarber hit Boston’s third Grand Slam in 11 innings.
The Red Sox, which only had three Grand Slam tournaments in the regular season, caught up with the 1998 Atlanta Braves as the only clubs to win three matches in a single postseason. Boston have averaged 20 homers this postseason, matching the Astros’ performance in the first eight playoff games in 2004, according to MLB.com.
Altuve also gave up on Martin Maldonado’s throw at Hunter Renfro’s stolen base in the third; the error is trapped. The throw to third was also insane, but the Astros were saved by another mistake, when the ball missed the dugout and bounced off the pillow back towards the field.
Astros: Manager Dusty Baker said outfielder Jake Meyers, who injured his left shoulder after hitting a wall in Division 4’s game, is feeling better and could start on Tuesday.
Teams will play Game 4 on Tuesday at 5:08 pm PT. The Red Sox are expected to rely on Pivetta, who was 9-8 with a 4.53 ERA in the regular season. Houston will challenge right-handers Zach Greinke, while right-hander Christian Javier is ready to follow the veteran. Greinke has been restricted for the past two months due to a neck problem and a positive test for COVID-19.