LOS ANGELES (AP) – His team down by a run, Steve Pearce was limbering up outside the Boston dugout before the eighth inning when manager Alex Cora called him back to the bench for a quick word.
Whatever Cora said, it must’ve worked.
He might want to share that wisdom with Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez and a couple others, too.
Moments after the brief consult, Pearce stepped up and launched a tying homer. He added a three-run double as the Red Sox scored five more times in the ninth, rallying past the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-6 on Saturday for a 3-1 lead at the World Series.
The well-traveled veteran certainly pierced the Dodgers.
But the biggest boppers at the top of Boston’s lineup? They’re still waiting to do damage at Dodger Stadium.
Betts and Martinez, possibly the two leading candidates for AL MVP, haven’t gotten a hit since the Series shifted to the West Coast.
Overall, the top four spots in the Red Sox batting order are a combined 3 for 45 with 16 strikeouts in those two games for the highest-scoring team in the big leagues.
Martinez took a couple more shaky swings in Game 4, striking out twice against Rich Hill and later fanning for a third time. The slugger led the majors with 130 RBIs this season and drove in two runs in each of the first two wins at Fenway Park.
But Martinez rolled his ankle rounding second on a double in the opener and, despite getting treatment since landing in Los Angeles, hasn’t looked locked in at the plate.
Nothing so obvious with Betts, who topped the majors in batting and slugging this season. After going 0 for 7 in an 18-inning loss that ended early Saturday, he managed only a long flyball in four tries during this win.
Xander Bogaerts and Andrew Benintendi haven’t done much lately, either, at the top of the order.
Not that the Red Sox needed them much beyond Pearce as they moved one win from their fourth crown in 15 seasons.