BOSTON — Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez walked off the mound with a six-run lead and a message for Carlos Correa and the rest of the Astros:
Now it’s Boston’s time.
Tapping his wrist to mimic Correa’s Game 1 celebration, Rodriguez rode four more Boston homers — including Kyle Schwarber’s record-setting grand slam — to a 12-3 victory Monday night as the Red Sox took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven AL Championship Series.
One game after J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers each hit grand slams, Schwarber hit a second-inning 3-0 pitch 430 feet into the rightfield grandstand. Boston is the first team ever with three slams in a postseason series.
Martinez and Devers each homered again, former Hernando standout Christian Arroyo also hit one, and Enrique Hernandez had two more hits for Boston, which could advance to the World Series with victories at Fenway Park in Games 4 and 5 tonight and Wednesday.
The Astros need to win at least one to send the series back to Houston.
Rodriguez gave up five hits, including former Tampa Plant standout Kyle Tucker’s three-run homer, and struck out seven. He retired Correa to end the sixth and reminded the Astros shortstop that one win is not enough — a move that earned a reprimand from Boston manager Alex Cora.
“It’s not that I’m mad at him,” said Cora, who was celebrating his 46th birthday. “We don’t act that way. We just show up, we play, and we move on.”
The Red Sox had 11 hits in all, becoming the first team in major-league history to reach double digits six straight times in a single postseason. Hernandez has 18 hits during the playoffs and is batting .500.
Capitalizing on two Astros errors and the struggles of Houston starter Jose Urquidy, the Red Sox opened a 9-0 lead for the second game in a row.
Rodriguez, who missed all of last season with COVID-related heart problems, retired the first six batters before running into the trouble in the third, when Tucker made it 9-3.
Rodriguez’s effort enabled Cora to keep Nick Pivetta fresh for a Game 4 start. Urquidy gave up six runs, five earned, on five hits and two walks, striking out one in 12/3 innings.
“It was a bad day,” Urquidy said. “They made good contact. I was trying to compete. I was trying to throw everything through the zone and they hit it.”
Houston’s pitching staff will need to adjust quickly after allowing 25 runs and 32 hits in the first three games. The Astros have a 7.96 ERA.
Houston’s bullpen has pitched 151/3 innings in the last two games.
Rightfielder Hunter Renfroe ended the game with a diving catch on Correa’s liner.
To the delight of the Fenway fans, who targeted him with profane chants for his role in the Astros 2017 cheating scandal, Jose Altuve struggled at the plate and in the field.
A Gold Glove and AL MVP winner, the three-time batting champion went 0-for-4 and let Arroyo’s chopper bounce off his chest for an error with the bases loaded in the second inning.
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One batter later, Schwarber hit Boston’s third grand slam in 11 innings.
“Electrifying. It’s unbelievable,” Boston outfielder Alex Verdugo said. “You can have a big swing and get four runs in on just that one play — it’s huge.
“It’s one of the best plays in baseball, man.”
Altuve also waved at a throw from Martin Maldonado on Renfroe’s stolen base in the third; the error went to the catcher.
The Red Sox, who only had three grand slams during the regular season, matched the 1998 Braves as the only clubs to hit three in a single postseason. Boston has 20 homers this postseason, matching the 2004 Astros for the most through the first eight games of the playoffs, per MLB.com.
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