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Benny Ballgame! Catch puts Sox a W from Series

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

HOUSTON -- What wound up as one of the most thrilling postseason victories in Red Sox history nearly turned into a soul-crushing defeat.

But Andrew Benintendi wasn't going to allow it to happen -- not after all the madness that had led up to the final play of an epic Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, which featured four hours and 33 minutes of riveting action.

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HOUSTON -- What wound up as one of the most thrilling postseason victories in Red Sox history nearly turned into a soul-crushing defeat.

But Andrew Benintendi wasn't going to allow it to happen -- not after all the madness that had led up to the final play of an epic Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, which featured four hours and 33 minutes of riveting action.

View Full Game Coverage

ALCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 5: Tonight, 8:09 p.m. ET on TBS

:: ALCS schedule and results ::

With the bases loaded and two out, and closer Craig Kimbrel on the ropes, the Astros sent their best player to the plate in Alex Bregman. He hit a sinking liner to left which was sure to tie the game if it dropped.

Instead, Benintendi raced in to make a magnificent catch which ended the zany, 8-6 win over the Astros on Wednesday night that gave the Red Sox a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series and put them one victory from reaching the World Series.

"I felt like I got a good jump on it," Benintendi said. "It wasn't hit that hard. I got in on it real good."

The safe play would have been for Benintendi to let it drop and make sure it didn't go by him.

But this classic contest between two heavyweight teams that led the Majors in wins this season wasn't about playing anything safe.

Benintendi went for it and secured the victory with a five-star catch, according to Statcast™. It was his first five-star snag in 23 chances this season. He had been 0-for-22 in such opportunities. With just a 21 percent catch probability, the fearless 24-year-old needed to cover 45 feet in 3.2 seconds.

Why did Benintendi decide to play it so aggressively?

"I don't know, I thought I could catch it. I timed it up well," Benintendi said. "That's when it was either do or die. I'm glad I caught it."

So was radio announcer Joe Castiglione, who has been broadcasting Red Sox games since 1983. As Castiglione made the call on the brilliant catch, he literally fell out of his chair, with the thump audible to all his listeners.

Tweet from @MLB: .@RedSox radio broadcaster Joe Castiglione got so excited during the final play, he literally fell out of his seat. Can you believe it? 😂 😂 😂 pic.twitter.com/HdMe6upUpF

And so it goes for these Red Sox, who are giving all of their followers a thrill.

Meanwhile, it was agony for the defending World Series champions, who are now on the brink of elimination.

"The difference in that game was a couple of inches," Astros manager AJ Hinch said.

The Red Sox were beside themselves with emotion after Benintendi's snag.

Video: ALCS Gm4: Statcast™ measures Benny's game-ending catch

"I gave him a kiss after the game," said Brock Holt, who is Benintendi's best friend on the team. "Right on the cheek. I said thank you."

Meanwhile, Kimbrel tried to come up with ways he could thank his left fielder.

"I gave him a big hug," Kimbrel said. "He might get a big Christmas present."

Video: Watch an extended cut of Benintendi's catch

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Andrew Benintendi

Fan interferes with Betts on potential Altuve HR

MLB.com @alysonfooter

HOUSTON -- It took less than 30 minutes into the Red Sox's 8-6 victory over the Astros in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series on Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park to give everyone something to talk about.

The Astros trailed, 2-0, in the first inning when Jose Altuve sent a long fly ball off Rick Porcello that looked to have reached the seats in right field for a game-tying homer. The ball appeared to hit Mookie Betts' outstretched glove in home run territory before it caromed back onto the field, but crew chief Joe West, manning the right-field line, called interference on the play as a fan's hands made contact with Betts' glove, possibly causing it to close and preventing him from completing the catch.

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HOUSTON -- It took less than 30 minutes into the Red Sox's 8-6 victory over the Astros in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series on Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park to give everyone something to talk about.

The Astros trailed, 2-0, in the first inning when Jose Altuve sent a long fly ball off Rick Porcello that looked to have reached the seats in right field for a game-tying homer. The ball appeared to hit Mookie Betts' outstretched glove in home run territory before it caromed back onto the field, but crew chief Joe West, manning the right-field line, called interference on the play as a fan's hands made contact with Betts' glove, possibly causing it to close and preventing him from completing the catch.

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ALCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 5: Tonight, 8:09 p.m. ET/7:09 CT on TBS

:: ALCS schedule and results ::

A crew-chief review could not definitely determine if the fan had reached into the field of play and the call would stand. Altuve was called out, and George Springer, who had singled to right-center, was sent back to first base.

"I've got zero control, so it's hard for me to say something when it doesn't matter what I said," Altuve said. "They're not going to change it. I normally don't get mad about umpires' calls. That one I was a little upset.

"I looked at the replay and it's tough. That's the only thing I can say. It's really hard."

Betts said he felt the fan's hand just as he was about to make the catch.

"I got a good jump on it, and I was pretty positive I was going to be able to catch it," he said. "But as I jumped and went over, reached my hand up, I felt like somebody was kind of pushing my glove out of the way or something. And I got to see a little bit of the replay. I guess they were going to catch the ball and pushed my glove out of the way."

West, speaking with a pool reporter after the game was over, said: "[Altuve] hit the ball to right field. [Betts] jumped up to try to make a catch. The fan interfered with him over the playing field. That's why I called spectator interference."

Asked what he saw that prompted the initial interference call, West said, "Well, when [Betts] jumped up to reach for the ball, the spectator reached out of the stands and hit him over the playing field and closed his glove."

Video: ALCS Gm4: Betts on fan interference, almost catch

The official ruling states:

(e) (3.16) Spectator Interference: When there is spectator interference with any thrown or batted ball, the ball shall be dead at the moment of interference and the umpire shall impose such penalties as in his opinion will nullify the act of interference.

APPROVED RULING: If spectator interference clearly prevents a fielder from catching a fly ball, the umpire shall declare the batter out.

Further, Rule 6.01(e) states: No interference shall be allowed when a fielder reaches over a fence, railing, rope or into a stand to catch a ball. He does so at his own risk. However, should a spectator reach out on the playing field side of such fence, railing or rope, and plainly prevent the fielder from catching the ball, then the batsman should be called out for the spectator's interference.

Part of the issue may have been the lack of a proper camera angle in the ballpark to make a definitive determination about where the ball was when Betts was attempting to catch it.

Tweet from @Mike_Ferrin: Screen shot from TBS of why they likely didn���t have a ���definitive��� look at Betts glove in the crowd pic.twitter.com/HZKuqMRhSW

"We have a replay system and we have the video," manager AJ Hinch said. "But it doesn't matter what we think, anyway. They're going to tell us what they want to rule."

The furthest Hinch would go when pressed about the ball's location was to repeat his observation that the umpiring and replay crews saw it the way they did, and that was that.

"I asked for a review," Hinch said. "And, obviously, they're going to give it to us. And they reviewed it and came back with the same outcome. So once the fan reaches past that line of the fence, I mean, we're going to penalize hitters every time. And so that changed the whole inning."

Video: ALCS Gm4: Hinch on fan interference call on Altuve

Red Sox manager Alex Cora said his first thought was that Altuve would be called out.

"[Betts] didn't reach over the fence; he was actually parallel with the wall," Cora said. "That's the rule and we got the out."

Postseason close calls involving fans

Instead of tying the game, the Astros ended the inning without scoring.

Video: ALCS Gm4: Cora on fan interference on Altuve's HR

"I was expecting that ball to go out," Altuve said. "The moment I saw the ball on the warning track, I said, 'OK, that's a double.' Two runs, the game ended up two runs, that makes me a little bit more upset."

The play, and the call, sparked a large response on social media, from a wide range of people watching either in person or at home on TV.

"Wow! I agree with call, just can't believe they got it right! Kudos to replay. Bet they have taller fences in Houston next yr." tweeted Hall of Famer Chipper Jones.

"Couldn't agree more. Make taller fences. Betts was going to catch it." former Brave Jeff Francoeur tweeted.

Tweet from @JeffFrancoeur: Couldn���t agree more. Make taller fences. Betts was going to catch it. https://t.co/KSoRz9ipnN

"That would've been an amazing catch by Betts!!!! They better call Altuve out." tweeted former All-Star pitcher Mark Mulder.

Video: Watch an extended cut of the crucial fan interference

Hinch, though, had arguably the best line of the night. Asked if they needed more cameras in the park to be able to see the best angles, Hinch deadpanned, "Yeah, earlier we started the day with, 'Do we have too many cameras in the park," a reference to the sign-stealing controversy that engulfed the pregame conversation. "So, yeah, I wish we had an angle that was perfectly along the fence line that would show. That's the one camera that we don't have."

Video: ALCS Gm4: Astros on fan interference call

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.

Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros

Top 10 thrills from Sox-Astros instant classic

From dazzling defense to a HR controversy, Game 4 has it all
MLB.com @RichardJustice

HOUSTON -- You will never watch a better baseball game, and isn't that the bottom line? Sometimes, this sport -- particularly this sport in October -- delivers something so good we need a day or two to roll it around in our hearts and minds and appreciate what we've just witnessed.

The Red Sox and Astros played this one like a Game 7 because, all things considered, it may end up being almost that important. We may look back a few days from now and see that the American League Championship Series was decided on Wednesday night.

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HOUSTON -- You will never watch a better baseball game, and isn't that the bottom line? Sometimes, this sport -- particularly this sport in October -- delivers something so good we need a day or two to roll it around in our hearts and minds and appreciate what we've just witnessed.

The Red Sox and Astros played this one like a Game 7 because, all things considered, it may end up being almost that important. We may look back a few days from now and see that the American League Championship Series was decided on Wednesday night.

View Full Game Coverage

ALCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 5: Tonight, 8:09 p.m. ET/7:09 CT on TBS

:: ALCS schedule and results ::

That's why at-bats were tense and long, and a line of relievers -- 10 in all -- paraded in from both bullpens. Plays that were made -- and plenty that weren't -- will gnaw through the offseason.

So hats off to the Red Sox, who twice came from behind and then held on for dear life at the end to beat the Astros, 8-6, in Game 4 of the ALCS at Minute Maid Park.

Boston leads the best-of-seven series, 3-1, and is one victory from its 14th AL pennant. Don't turn out the lights just yet. Boston's pitching has been pushed to the limit -- David Price will start Game 5 on short rest tonight -- and the Astros have aces Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole lined up for Games 5 and 6.

Postseason gear: Red Sox | Astros

First, though, let's appreciate Game 4 for all its spectacular moments and captivating theater with 10 plays that helped make it an instant classic:

1. Andrew Benintendi flies through the air
This game ended the only way it could: with the Red Sox left fielder making a sweet diving catch of an Alex Bregman liner with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. How perfect is that? Had he not come up with the ball, the Astros probably win, and the ALCS looks completely different. On an evening when bodies flew here, there and everywhere, flipping over rails, diving across foul lines, when both teams did themselves proud, Benintendi saved the best for last. If you hear a rumor that Red Sox radio broadcaster Joe Castiglione got so excited he fell out of his seat, you didn't hear it here.

Video: ALCS Gm4: Statcast™ measures Benny's game-ending catch

2. Jose Altuve's home run that wasn't
The Astros second baseman hit a ball just over the wall in right field with a runner on base in the bottom of the first inning. Home run, right? Hey, it's complicated. As Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts leaped near the wall in an attempt to steal the home run, his glove appeared to come into contact with at least a couple of fans. Umpire Joe West believed Betts would have caught the ball if not for the fans and ruled fan interference. A replay review supported his call. The Astros did not agree. More >>

Video: Must C Curious: Altuve out on fan interference

3. Mookie Betts, Gold Glover
Don't run on Mookie. Those two Gold Gloves should be a reminder of that. Astros outfielder Tony Kemp learned that lesson when he led off the bottom of the eighth with a single to right and attempted to stretch it into a double. Betts made a laser throw to shortstop Xander Bogaerts to get Kemp. The Astros trailed by three at the time, and Betts' play probably saved the Red Sox a run.

Video: Must C Cannon: Betts nabs Kemp at second with laser

4. Steve Pearce head over heels into the dugout
No play typified the urgency of this game more than the Boston first baseman flipping over the railing and landing on his back in the Astros dugout in pursuit of a Josh Reddick foul pop in the seventh with the Red Sox leading, 7-5. He didn't get to the ball. Instead, he gave Red Sox Nation a highlight moment to appreciate. More >>

Video: ALCS Gm4: Pearce flips over into Astros' dugout

5. Jackie Bradley Jr. hits another one
The Red Sox center fielder is making October his personal stage. The Astros had just taken a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the fifth when Bradley came to bat with a runner on base and two outs in the top of the sixth. You can guess the rest. His two-run home run gave him nine RBIs in the ALCS and the Red Sox a lead they never relinquished. More >>

Video: Bradley delivers clutch hits in Games 2-4 of ALCS

6. Reddick keeps the Astros in the game
We had so many spectacular defensive plays in this one that they started to feel routine. Reddick made a huge one with a diving grab of a Betts liner in the top of the ninth inning with a runner on base. It cost the Red Sox at least one run and kept the Astros within striking distance for the bottom of the inning.

Video: ALCS Gm4: Reddick makes a tremendous diving catch

7. Kemp and a different kind of home run
We love home runs that are these big booming shots that rattle the glass in windows and disappear into the night air. That's not the kind the Astros left fielder hit in the bottom of the fourth inning. He looped a Rick Porcello pitch just over the wall and inside the right-field foul pole. Statcast™ clocked its exit velocity at 89.7 mph, the softest home run in the postseason since the technology arrived in 2015. Still counted. More >>

Video: ALCS Gm4: Kemp hits 89.7-mph HR down right-field line

8. Craig Kimbrel's grit
The Red Sox closer got the final six outs to do something he'd never done in his nine-year Major League career. That would be a save of more than four outs. Never mind that he has allowed a run in four straight appearances or that looks like someone who could use a couple of days to catch his breath. He helped get the Red Sox to the threshold of a dream.

Video: ALCS Gm4: Kimbrel seals win with Benintendi's help

9. Josh James and 102 mph
The former 34th-round Draft choice of the Astros burst onto the scene late in the season after blowing away hitters in the Minor Leagues. When Astros manager AJ Hinch called upon him in the top of the third inning, his first three pitches were 100.9 mph, 101.2 mph and 102.4 mph. Does that qualify as electric stuff? He's the first Astros pitcher to hit 102 mph in the pitch tracking era (2008-present). More >>

Video: ALCS Gm4: James K's Devers on 5 100-plus-mph pitches

10. Altuve is doing that Willis Reed thing
He refuses to give in to a knee injury that has left him with a pronounced limp and forced Hinch to use him as a DH. Yet he still continues to hit and hustle. He legged out a third-inning double and hit the second-base bag so hard he needed a few minutes to walk off the pain and remain in the game. He hustled home on a Reddick single moments later.

Video: ALCS Gm4: Altuve checked by trainer after long double

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros, Jose Altuve, Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, Josh James, Jackie Bradley Jr., Tony Kemp, Craig Kimbrel, Steve Pearce, Josh Reddick

Relive the madness of the Mookie Betts fan interference in ALCS Game 4 with these tweets

Game 4 of the ALCS got off to a wild start Wednesday night. After the Red Sox scored two runs in the top of the first inning, it appeared that Jose Altuve had evened the game up for the Astros on a deep fly ball to right field. Instead, Mookie Betts leaped for the ball and came into contact with some fans as he tried to make the catch. 

As the play was reviewed to rule the call on the field of fan interference would stand, everyone on Twitter tried to figure out what exactly transpired on the play.

Behind Kershaw, LA takes 3-2 NLCS lead to MIL

MLB.com @kengurnick

LOS ANGELES -- Until there's a World Series ring on his finger, Clayton Kershaw will do just about anything to put one there, as he showed the Brewers on Wednesday.

NLCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 6: Fri., 8:39 p.m. ET/5:39 PT on FS1

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LOS ANGELES -- Until there's a World Series ring on his finger, Clayton Kershaw will do just about anything to put one there, as he showed the Brewers on Wednesday.

NLCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 6: Fri., 8:39 p.m. ET/5:39 PT on FS1

View Full Game Coverage

:: NLCS schedule and results ::

The future Hall of Famer pitched like one in what could turn out to be his final Dodgers start, stifling the Brewers for seven innings on three hits in a 5-2 Game 5 victory at Dodger Stadium that gave Los Angeles a 3-2 edge in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series.

The series shifts to Milwaukee, with Game 6 on Friday (and Game 7 on Saturday, if necessary) and the Dodgers needing one win for their first back-to-back World Series appearances since 1977-78. When a best-of-seven MLB series has been tied 2-2, the Game 5 winner has gone on to win the series 42 of 60 times (70 percent). Teams leading 3-2 with Games 6 and 7 on the road have gone on to take the series 29 of 49 times (59 percent). The Dodgers are 5-1 with a 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven series.

"It wasn't as easy maybe as last year to get to this point," said Kershaw. "I realize we've got some work to finish it off and get back. It doesn't really matter how you get there, but thankful that we are here now, for sure."

Kershaw -- the Game 1 loser to the Brewers when he was charged with five runs (four earned) in three-plus innings -- rebounded like a three-time NL Cy Young Award winner. Kershaw said he wasn't thinking about Game 1, but his manager was.

"You could see the same look that you always see, there's a determination and when you get a champion like him that gets hit around a little bit, he's going to respond, and that's what he did today," said Dave Roberts.

Kershaw struck out nine with a curve he could throw for strikes and a slider that darted (season-high 19 swinging strikes), retired the last 13 batters he faced and rested a bullpen that was on fumes after throwing eight scoreless innings in Tuesday night's marathon walk-off win. Of his 98 pitches, 66 were sliders or curveballs. He also walked twice, put down a sacrifice bunt and scored a run.

"In Game 5 of the NLCS, we're going to have guys probably pitching out of their comfort zones all over the place," said Kershaw. "And that was evident today when they were prepared to take me out after five innings. It's definitely in the back of your mind that you want to try to go as deep as possible when the bullpen was taxed as much as it was yesterday."

Video: NLCS Gm5: Kershaw on being one win away from WS

Homerless for a third consecutive game, the Dodgers changed their offensive approach, putting balls in play, using the big part of the field and aggressively running the bases (steals by Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor and Manny Machado). Six of nine hits went to center field.

"The little things played a big part today," said Roberts.

Video: NLCS Gm5: Bellinger swipes second, call is confirmed

After Lorenzo Cain's RBI double off Kershaw in the third inning gave the Brewers a 1-0 lead, the Dodgers tied the game on an RBI single through a drawn-in infield by Austin Barnes in the fifth inning with Kershaw's spot next and Yasiel Puig in the on-deck circle. Roberts said Puig was a decoy and he was sending Kershaw back out to pitch the sixth, but Milwaukee couldn't be sure of that.

Video: NLCS Gm5: Barnes drives in Taylor with an RBI single

"Kershaw was going to hit, we would have had a strikeout or infield groundout," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell. "We brought the infield in and tried to be aggressive there. So I would agree that that [Barnes hit] was the at-bat of the game. And I think that certainly we get to their bullpen and they've got to do some work in the bullpen. So that changed things, for sure."

Video: NLCS Gm5: Kershaw discusses his at-bat in the 7th

The Dodgers took the lead in the sixth on RBI singles by Max Muncy and Puig. They added a pair of insurance runs in the seventh on a Justin Turner RBI single and a Brian Dozier RBI groundout.

Puig makes impact off bench in Game 5 victory

Video: NLCS Gm5: Turner drives in Kershaw with RBI single

Muncy's one-out hit -- an uncharacteristic bouncer through the left side of the infield for the pull hitter -- scored Turner to break the tie and chased Brandon Woodruff, who had been pitching since the second batter of the game. Counsell used Wade Miley as a one-batter decoy starter to influence Los Angeles' lineup construction. Miley is expected to start Game 6.

Muncy's hit followed Machado being nicked by a pitch, and Machado scored on Puig's two-out single up the middle.

Video: NLCS Gm5: Muncy, Puig give Dodgers lead in the 6th

Kershaw -- who can opt out of the final two years of his contract after the World Series -- added to Dodgers postseason records for wins (nine), starts (22), innings pitched (140) and strikeouts (153). He's 3-5 in NLCS games and 9-8 overall in the postseason.

"It's just a classic case of he executed a lot of pitches today," said Counsell. "He didn't execute in Milwaukee and he executed today. I don't think it was a vastly different game plan; it's simple execution."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Kershaw said a third-inning, two-out strikeout of Jesus Aguilar that left the bases loaded and started the 13 straight outs was the turning point in his start.

Video: NLCS Gm5: Kershaw escapes bases-loaded jam with K

"Any time you can work yourself out of situations like that, that's going to make or break the game," he said. "Minimizing damage as best you can as a starting pitcher is huge. In the playoffs you probably don't get many chances to work out of jams because you're going to get taken out of the game because the magnitude of the game is so large."

Video: Dodgers win pivotal Game 5, take 3-2 NLCS lead

SOUND SMART
Kershaw joined Jim Palmer (1971 Orioles), Don Drysdale ('63 Dodgers) and Bill Dinneen ('03 Americans) as the only players with at least two walks (batting) and at least nine strikeouts (pitching) in a postseason game all-time, according to Stats LLC.

Video: NLCS Gm5: Kershaw draws 2 walks in Game 5 win

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Barnes' single scored Taylor, who led off the fifth on an infield single, taking second on shortstop Orlando Arcia's throwing error, then stealing third base.

"Having the confidence and trust in your ability to get out there and know that the guy's a little slow to the plate and we can take advantage of that and to go on the first pitch was big time," said Turner.

Video: NLCS Gm5: Taylor, Dodgers manufacture run to tie game

HE SAID IT
"Just thinking that I have to get Woodruff out." -- Kershaw, who allowed a Game 1 homer to Woodruff, on what he was thinking when Woodruff relieved one batter into the game

Video: NLCS Gm5: Watch Slo-mo footage of Game 5 of the NLCS

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw

On doorstep of WS, Sox 4-0 on road in playoffs

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

HOUSTON -- They've become the kings of the road and masters of the big hit(s) in this postseason, and that formula has moved the Red Sox within one win of the World Series.

Manager Alex Cora's team rode Jackie Bradley Jr.'s latest game-turning blast and a brilliant, game-ending snag by Andrew Benintendi to an 8-6 victory in a pulsating Game 4 on Wednesday that gave the Red Sox a 3-1 lead on the Astros in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series.

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HOUSTON -- They've become the kings of the road and masters of the big hit(s) in this postseason, and that formula has moved the Red Sox within one win of the World Series.

Manager Alex Cora's team rode Jackie Bradley Jr.'s latest game-turning blast and a brilliant, game-ending snag by Andrew Benintendi to an 8-6 victory in a pulsating Game 4 on Wednesday that gave the Red Sox a 3-1 lead on the Astros in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series.

View Full Game Coverage

ALCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 5: Tonight, 8:09 ET on TBS

:: ALCS schedule and results ::

The Sox are 4-0 on the road in this postseason and could punch their ticket to the Fall Classic as early as Thursday's Game 5, though it will be anything but easy with Astros ace Justin Verlander staring them down at Minute Maid Park. After winning a franchise record 108 games in the regular season, Boston is 6-2 in the postseason.

"We all know it's special," said Bradley. "We're playing our best ball against some of the best teams, one the best teams in the country. So we're trying to do whatever we can to win a ballgame, and we're one more [win] away, but we still feel like we got a long way to go."

A postseason classic ended with Benintendi's diving catch on a sinking liner by Alex Bregman to deny the Astros, who had the bases loaded. It capped a shaky six-out save by Craig Kimbrel, who came in with an 8-5 lead to start the eighth inning and recorded the first six-out save of his career -- but not without allowing a run on two hits and three walks, striking out one.

"This time of year, you leave it all out there," said Kimbrel. "I was giving it everything I had. Obviously it wasn't my best, but this is the playoffs. It's 27 outs, you have to get the last one. I've made it a little exciting the last couple of games. I'm glad we were able to pull out the win."

Top 10 thrills from Sox-Astros instant classic

In the history of best-of-seven series with the 2-3-2 format, teams taking a 3-1 lead on the road have gone on to take the series 37 of 44 times (84 percent). But nobody on the Red Sox has a better understanding of how dangerous the Astros are than Cora, who was their bench coach last year when they won the World Series.

"We know we're up 3-1. But they're a good team," said Cora. "They came back last year [down 3-2 in the ALCS] against the Yankees. They lost Game 6 of the World Series in Dodger Stadium and they won Game 7.

"It's not over. We know that. But to have a chance to finish tomorrow, that's always good. We're just going to show up tomorrow, get the information, play hard and see what happens."

Benny Ballgame: Catch puts Sox a W from WS

Video: ALCS Gm4: Benintendi seals win on amazing diving grab

To get to this enviable position, Bradley came through with his third huge hit in as many games. A day after hitting a grand slam, the No. 9 hitter roped a towering, two-run homer to right with two outs in the sixth to turn a 5-4 deficit into a 6-5 lead.

"It was a big momentum shift," said Bradley. "They took the lead and to be able to take it back, I felt the energy from my teammates. It was a big moment for us. We never feel like enough runs is going to be enough. We want to continue to put it on, because they're a very good ball team."

Bradley attacked the first pitch he saw from reliever Josh James and mauled it a Statcast™-projected 385 feet at an exit velocity of 104.2 mph. That gave Bradley nine RBIs in the series, making him the first player to have that many in an LCS since 2011.

"I'm very proud of him, what he's done in the second part of the season and what he's done tonight and in this series," said Cora. "It's amazing. He keeps working on his craft, his swing. He understands now, he's staying through the ball, hitting the ball in the air. There's no more hitting line drives into the shift. Now he hits the ball in the air."

JBJ delivers another big homer

Video: Must C Clutch: Bradley Jr.'s go-ahead 2-run homer

The bullpen endured some stress against the hard-charging Astros but ultimately got the job done. Kimbrel's struggles in this postseason continued, however, as he gave up a run in his fourth consecutive outing for the first time in his career.

"He's our guy," said Cora. "And it was [Tony] Kemp and the top of the lineup. We've been talking about it the whole season. I know people were really anxious, 162 games and the first series, but we knew all along that something like this was going to come up, and we trust our guy. He threw well. I know it didn't look pretty, but we got 27 outs and now we move on."

Cora shows faith in 'our guy' Kimbrel in Gm 4

Video: ALCS Gm4: Cora on Kimbrel's struggles, 6-out save

For the third straight game, the Red Sox took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Astros starter Charlie Morton got himself into trouble by hitting leadoff man Mookie Betts with a pitch and walking J.D. Martinez. With two outs, Rafael Devers laced a two-run single to left. Boston is 80-15 this season when it scores first, including 6-0 in the postseason.

"Like I said, we're not afraid of playing on the road. We hit first. Hopefully we can get on the board first, keep the pressure on," said Benintendi.

Red Sox score 2 in 1st for 3rd straight game

Video: ALCS Gm4: Betts, Martinez and Devers give Sox lead

This time, the early lead didn't stand up, but the Red Sox still ended up on top.

Even in defeat, the Astros could appreciate the type of spectacle they participated in.

"Two tremendous teams going at it. It was well-played baseball," said Astros shortstop Carlos Correa. "They came up with the win. I had some flashbacks of Game 5 of the World Series last year. That's the type of the game it was. Nobody gave up. We didn't win, but it was a great game."

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
In the bottom of the first, there was major controversy when Jose Altuve thought he had a two-run, game-tying homer to right after Betts' robbery attempt appeared to come up short. But as Betts leaped above the wall to make the play, a spectator made contact with his glove, leading to a fan interference call by right-field umpire Joe West. After a crew-chief review of three minutes, the call stood, displeasing Altuve and the packed house at Minute Maid Park.

Video: ALCS Gm4: Altuve out on interference as call stands

"I don't think I was surprised because I knew I was going to catch it," said Betts. "I've never seen or been part of a play like that. So I guess, yeah, you could say I was kind of surprised he made the out call. And as I watched the video, it's like he got it right, because I feel like it was going in my glove for sure."

Fan interferes with Betts on potential Altuve HR

Video: Must C Curious: Altuve out on fan interference

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Mookie nabs Kemp with great throw: With the Astros down, 8-5, in the eighth, Kemp belted one down the line in right and decided to test the arm of Betts, his friend and fellow Nashville native. That proved to be a costly decision. Betts came out firing and nailed Kemp at second, giving Kimbrel a precious first out of the inning.

"That's probably my top, in the top three of my throws in my career for sure," said Betts. "I didn't even see him going to second. I kind of knew off the bat he was going to go to second. It was one of those plays that I practiced so many times in Spring Training and it just came in the game."

Video: Must C Cannon: Betts nabs Kemp at second with laser

Barnes' nasty hook: Kimbrel's struggles aside, the Red Sox continue to get solid performances from their bullpen. With Boston clinging to a 7-5 lead in the seventh, the Astros had runners at second and third with two outs after Correa's double off Ryan Brasier. Out of the bullpen came Matt Barnes, who struck out pinch-hitter Tyler White to end the inning, finishing the at-bat with two nasty curveballs that White didn't offer at.

Video: ALCS Gm4: Red Sox strand 2 runners, hold lead at 7-5

SOUND SMART
Bradley is two RBIs shy of tying the legendary David Ortiz's franchise record for most RBIs in an ALCS. Big Papi's 11 RBIs came in 2004 against the Yankees, when he was named ALCS MVP.

Video: ALCS Gm4: Cora on Bradley's HR, performance in ALCS

HE SAID IT
"It was back and forth the whole game. Every time, I think, they scored, we scored the next inning. ... It was a fun game to be a part of, definitely one of my favorite games we've played. Good win." -- Benintendi

Video: ALCS Gm4: Cora on Benintendi and Betts' defense

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr.

Rumors: Machado, Yanks, Morton, Kershaw, Storen

The latest MLB free agent and trade rumors for Hot Stove season
MLB.com

As the postseason concludes, Hot Stove season begins. MLB.com is keeping track of all the latest free agent and trade rumors right here.

• Complete list of free agents this offseason 

As the postseason concludes, Hot Stove season begins. MLB.com is keeping track of all the latest free agent and trade rumors right here.

• Complete list of free agents this offseason 

Cashman has no comment on Machado's lack of hustle, says Sanchez isn't available
Oct. 17: Since news broke that shortstop Didi Gregorius would need to undergo Tommy John surgery -- he had the procedure Wednesday -- speculation has increased about the Yankees' intention to pursue Manny Machado in free agency.

Tweet from @TMKSESPN: ICYMI: Brian Cashman joins the guys to discuss Severino tipping pitches, Greg Bird's role on the team, Jacoby Ellsbury's future and more.🔊https://t.co/qmnQZ2htBO

Meanwhile, Machado has drawn some negative attention for his lack of hustle in the NLCS vs. the Brewers. Although Machado's name wasn't specifically mentioned, Brian Cashman was asked about the situation when the Yankees general manager called into "The Michael Kay Show" on Wednesday.

"If somebody is an otherworldly talent that doesn't run hard to first base all the time, would that be somebody the Yankees would want to put in their clubhouse?" Kay asked.

Cashman, though, wouldn't take the bait.

"Boy, you're really good at what you do," Cashman said, good-naturedly. "You're trying to Jedi mind trick me into answering a question that would put me into the abyss at MLB."

Video: MLB Now looks at Machado not running out a grounder

However, Cashman did have an emphatic answer when asked whether he had any pause about moving forward with Gary Sanchez as the Yankees' starting catcher after the slugger's disappointing season.

"I believe in Gary Sanchez," Cashman said. "Clearly it's up to us to continue to find ways to unlock what he's capable of.

"I'm already getting phone calls, to be honest, clubs trying to knock on our door to see if he's available, and he's not."

Morton tagged for three runs in ALCS Game 4 showcase start
Oct. 17: Bound for free agency this offseason, Astros right-hander Charlie Morton wasn't needed at all in the postseason before his start on Wednesday night in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series against Boston.

But in what could have been his final showcase as a starter for potential suitors, Morton didn't make it out of the third inning, getting tagged for three runs on three hits in 2 1/3 innings, including a Rafael Devers two-run single in the first and a Xander Bogaerts RBI double in the third, which chased him from the game. He struck out two, walked two, hit a batter and uncorked two wild pitches.

Morton said before Tuesday's Game 3 that he would not be Houston's starter for Game 7 of the ALCS if the series were to make it that far. He could be available out of the bullpen, as he was in Game 7 of last season's World Series, but he indicated that it would be unlikely due to the composition of Houston's relief corps.

"I'm more than willing to go down [to the bullpen]," Morton said. "But even with just having [Collin McHugh] and [Lance McCullers Jr.] down there for some length, and [Josh James] as well, it doesn't seem like there's been a pressing need for a guy that's usually starting to go down there."

The right-hander will likely be one of the most coveted free-agent starters despite his Wednesday struggles, as he has gone 29-10 with a 3.36 ERA and a 10.4 K/9 rate in 55 regular-season starts over two years with Houston. He was also outstanding in the World Series last year, allowing two runs in 10 1/3 innings and getting the final 12 outs of Game 7.

Granted, there's a chance that Morton, who has pondered retirement, will never enter free agency, as he might be willing to accept a possible $17.9 million qualifying offer to stay in Houston for one more year before calling it a career.

Kershaw dazzles in what could be last Dodgers start, still undecided on opt-out clause
Oct. 17: Clayton Kershaw is expected to opt out of his contract with the Dodgers after this season and test the free-agent market, according to a recent report from MLB Network insider Jon Heyman. The 30-year-old left-hander tossed seven strong innings in Los Angeles' 5-2 win in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series against the Brewers on Wednesday, giving up one run on three hits, walking two and striking out nine to help give the Dodgers a 3-2 series lead.

Kershaw was asked prior to the game whether he had made a decision on the matter within the context that he could be making his final career start with the Dodgers should they fail to advance to the World Series.

"I have not made a decision," Kershaw said. "And to my understanding you get 10 days after the World Series. So should be a busy 10 days."

Kershaw was referencing the 10-day period after the World Series in which he will be mandated to make a decision of whether to opt out of the two years and just over $70 million remaining on a seven-year, $215 million contract he signed with the Dodgers prior to the 2014 season.

When asked if he had been processing things differently this postseason given his well-accoladed history with Los Angeles, and the potential that this could be his last with the Dodgers, Kershaw said: "Trying not to. I think it's hard enough to try and win a postseason game. I know more than anybody knows that. So, I think for me it's just trying to focus as much as I possibly can on the Brewers and getting ready for [Wednesday's] start. And putting everything else on the back burner as best I possibly can."

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts echoed Kershaw's sentiment and focus when he was asked about Kershaw's uncertain future with the club. 

"You bring it up to my attention and I'm sure -- I guess it's a reality," Roberts said. "But I think that for me it's just thinking about [Wednesday] with Clayton pitching for us. And so I don't get too far ahead of that, no."

Kershaw, the '14 NL MVP Award winner and three-time NL Cy Young Award winner, has dealt with lingering back issues the past three seasons and was limited to just 26 starts this year, so it is far from certain that the left-hander would be able to find a suitor for another longterm deal. However, he'd likely be able to sign for more than the two years he has left on his current pact with the Dodgers. More >

Storen hoping to make comeback after missing 2018
Oct. 17: More than a year removed from undergoing Tommy John surgery, reliever Drew Storen is hoping to make a comeback in 2019, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported via Twitter on Wednesday.

The right-hander underwent the procedure Sept. 26, 2017, and missed the entire '18 campaign while recovering. Per Heyman, the 31-year-old free agent is throwing his full arsenal of pitches and is ready to showcase himself to Major League clubs.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Drew Storen sat last year out after Tommy John surgery but he���s throwing his full arsenal of pitches now & is ready to showcase for teams. Storen, still only 30, appears ready to go as the video suggests: pic.twitter.com/qXuj4PcUX3

Storen posted a 4.45 ERA over 54 2/3 innings with the Reds in '17, but he owns a lifetime 3.45 ERA with 99 saves in eight big league seasons.

Oh wants to return to KBO
Oct. 17: Seunghwan Oh wants to return to the Korea Baseball Organization after three seasons in MLB, the Rockies reliever told Korean news outlets Wednesday.

Oh has a guaranteed $2.5 million salary with the Rockies for next season, as the vesting option in his contract kicked in after he made 70 appearances this year. But the 36-year-old's preference appears to be to go back to the league where he pitched his first nine professional seasons. Oh first left the KBO for Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball in 2014, then jumped to the Major Leagues in 2016.

"I am a bit exhausted after spending five seasons in Japan and the United States," Oh said. "I feel like I want to return to the KBO while I still have the energy to help the team and pitch in front of home fans. I can't make this decision alone. I'll have to speak with my agency about the next season."

Oh also said, "It's not easy living in a foreign country. You have to face the opposing hitters on the mound, and there are a lot of other things you have to battle off the field. Everything away from the stadium is an extension of competition."

If Oh does, in fact, leave the Majors, the Rockies would have to replace a key bullpen spot for 2019. After the Rockies acquired him in July, Oh became an important member of what was at times a shaky relief corps in Colorado, posting a 2.53 ERA in 25 appearances down the stretch with 24 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings. Oh pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings in the Rockies' NL Wild Card Game win over the Cubs, keeping the game tied in the 10th and 11th innings. He allowed two runs in Game 2 of the NLDS against the Brewers, but pitched a scoreless inning in Game 3.

Adam Ottavino, probably the team's best reliever this season, is also set to become a free agent. Without Oh, addressing the bullpen this winter, which would already have been a priority for the Rockies, would become even more critical.

Blue Jays could have significant roster turnover this offseason
Oct. 17: The Blue Jays began their rebuild during the 2018 season by shipping out a number of veterans, including Josh Donaldson, J.A. Happ, Roberto Osuna and Curtis Granderson, and that process could continue this offseason.

On Wednesday, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca detailed an extensive offseason plan for Toronto that involves the club trading catcher Russell Martin and designated hitter Kendrys Morales while eating a large portion of both players' salaries.

Nicholson-Smith also suggests that the Jays trade infielder Aledmys Diaz for right-hander Sonny Gray, whom the Yankees are known to be shopping. With Didi Gregorius recovering from Tommy John surgery, Diaz would give the Yanks insurance at shortstop in case they don't sign Manny Machado.

As part of Nicholson-Smith's plan, the Jays would come away with free-agent starter Trevor Cahill and deal for Marlins reliever Adam Conley as well, while picking up first baseman Justin Smoak's $8 million club option and declining infielder Yangervis Solarte's $5.5 million club option.

Per Nicholson-Smith, if this plan is executed, the Jays will open up more playing time for youngsters while also putting themselves in position to have some attractive targets to move before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Eovaldi, Keuchel turn in strong performances in ALCS Game 3
Oct. 16: With not only a national audience of fans watching, but also potential suitors in free agency, Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi and Astros lefty Dallas Keuchel each turned in formidable performances during Boston's 8-2 win in ALCS Game 3 on Tuesday. 

Ahead of ALCS Game 3, MLB.com's Mike Petriello broke down how both Eovaldi and Keuchel could be among the most coveted free agent starting pitchers this offseason.

Video: ALCS Gm3: Eovaldi K's 4, allows 2 ER over 6

Eovaldi, who Boston acquired from Tampa Bay ahead of the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline explicitly to make starts such as Tuesday's, allowed two runs on six hits and two walks over six strong innings while averaging a whopping 98.8 mph on his four-seam fastball and topping out at 101 mph. Eovaldi's blemishes came in the fifth inning, when he walked Jose Altuve in a full count with two outs and then surrendered a game-tying double to the red-hot Alex Bregman. Eovaldi eventually got out of the fifth with no more damage and returned to toss a scoreless sixth. 

Eovaldi's stock appears to be on the rise after undergoing multiple surgeries to repair his pitching arm, including two Tommy John operations. After missing all of the 2017 season and the first two months of '18 while recovering from the latest tear in his right elbow, Eovaldi bounced back to go 6-7 with a 3.81 ERA over 12 regular season outings -- and he's been even better in his first career postseason. In addition to Tuesday, Eovaldi tossed seven scoreless innings in the Red Sox's 16-1 win over the Yankees of Game 3 of the AL Division Series last Tuesday,. 

Keuchel on Tuesday gave up three of the four hits he surrendered and two runs in the first inning -- a one-run double to J.D. Martinez and an RBI groundout to Xander Bogaerts -- then threw four scoreless frames to finish his outing. He also issued two walks, and left with a 2-1 deficit, as the Astros' loss fell on the shoulders of their bullpen. 

Video: ALCS Gm3: Keuchel on his start, Astros' Game 3 loss

Keuchel, the 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner, may have seen his stock drop some in 2018 after two All-Star appearances over the three seasons prior, but the left-hander is nonetheless considered one of the better starting arms that will be available in free agency. After being limited in consecutive seasons due to injuries (left shoulder pain in '16 and neck discomfort in '17), Keuchel eclipsed the 200-inning plateau for the third time in '18, going 12-11 with a 3.74 ERA. 

Marlins add more international bonus pool money with eye on three Cuban prospects
Oct. 16: The Marlins created more financial flexibility on Tuesday to make an aggressive run at the three coveted Cuban prospects they've been pursuing this offseason, trading Minor Leaguers Adonis Giron and Brayan De Paula to the Astros for $500,000 in international bonus pool money, according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro. 

The latest of their three trades this offseason is believed to have pushed Miami's international bonus pool ahead of the Orioles' $6.7 million for the MLB high. That would put them in a more favorable position to sign Cuban prospects Victor Victor Mesa, his brother, Victor Mesa Jr., and Sandy Gaston, who were each granted free agency by MLB a few weeeks ago, making them eligible to sign at any time.

Video: Hill discusses hosting Mesa, Gaston at showcase

Tuesday's trade was the Marlins' third this offseason that was largely geared at adding international talent. On Oct. 10, they traded right-hander Kyle Barraclough to the Nationals for $1 million and on Oct. 6, they traded right-handed pitching prospect Ryan Lillie to the Reds for $750,000. 

Before the two deals, the Marlins had $4.3 million in their international allotment, behind only the Orioles. How much that gap has narrowed isn't yet known.

Victor Victor Mesa, 22, and Victor Jr., 18, are both outfielders. Gaston is a 16-year-old right-hander. Victor Victor Mesa is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the top international prospect on the market, and Gaston is ranked 16th. More >

Kluber, Paxton, MadBum among SP trade candidates who could shake up offseason
Oct. 16: Last offseason, clubs had limited options when it came to free-agent starting pitchers, but the market was bolstered by the availability of Gerrit Cole, who was traded to the Astros and ended up being one of the best additions any team made over the past year.

In a story for the New York Post on Tuesday, MLB Network insider Joel Sherman shared a handful of names who could do the same for the market if they are made available this offseason, with the Indians' Corey Kluber, the Mariners' James Paxton and the Giants' Madison Bumgarner among them.

Based on contract escalators tied to his finishes in Cy Young Award voting, Kluber is expected to be owed $17 million for next season, with club options for 2020 and '21 that could be worth up to $17.5 million and $18 million, respectively.

Sherman argues the Indians would still be prohibitive favorites in a weak AL Central even if they traded Kluber, who will turn 33 years old in April and has struggled in each of the past two postseasons, as the club could use that money to address other needs on the roster.

As for Paxton, Sherman notes that the Mariners have few ways to significantly improve their situation, given their old, expensive core and poor farm system. Trading the big left-hander, who can become a free agent after the 2020 campaign and has never thrown more than 160 1/3 innings in a season, could be a way to address some of their needs.

Bumgarner, meanwhile, has a $12 million club option for 2019 and should draw significant trade interest despite showing signs of decline in '18. Per Sherman, it could make sense for the Giants to deal the left-hander now, as they are unlikely to be serious contenders in '19 and would be taking a major risk by signing him to an extension.

Also part of Sherman's list were the D-backs' Robbie Ray and the Cardinals' Carlos Martinez, who both dealt with injuries in '18 but have displayed ace potential in the past. Ray can become a free agent after 2020, while Martinez is controllable for five more seasons if his club options are picked up for '22 ($17 million) and '23 ($18 million).

Machado, Grandal on opposite tracks in postseason
Oct. 16: One run of postseason games might not outweigh the full body of work of the regular season, but it leaves an impression. And two of the Dodgers' key free-agents-to-be, Manny Machado and Yasmani Grandal, have been trending in opposite directions this October.

Machado, one of the two marquee names hitting the market this winter along with Bryce Harper, has been heating up. After a slow-ish start to the playoffs -- which still included the decisive two-run homer in the Dodgers' Game 2 NLDS win over the Braves -- the superstar shortstop has three multi-hit efforts and a pair of home runs in his last four games. In the NLCS, Machado is 5-for-11 with a homer and a double (although there have been questions about his hustle after he didn't run hard on a groundout in Game 2).

Grandal, on the other hand, has struggled offensively and behind the plate. He's hitting just .136 this postseason (3-for-22) with one homer. But Grandal's defense has been the most visible issue. He's had two nightmarish games in the NLCS, both of which have resulted in the Dodgers replacing him with Austin Barnes for the following game.

In Game 1, a one-run loss, Grandal had two errors and two passed balls -- becoming the first catcher in postseason history with multiple errors and multiple passed balls in the same game. Barnes then started Game 2. Grandal returned for Game 3, but had another tough night in another Dodgers loss. He couldn't block a wild pitch in the sixth inning, which brought home a run for the Brewers, and he had a passed ball in the eighth. After that, Barnes will start Tuesday's Game 4.

That's now two straight postseasons Grandal has lost playing time to Barnes. Last year, Barnes started 13 of the Dodgers' 15 playoff games at catcher, including all seven World Series games, compared to just two starts for Grandal.

Even after Grandal's impressive 2018 regular season -- he hit the second-most home runs among catchers (24) and the third-highest wRC+ (125, meaning he was 25 percent better than a league-average hitter) -- that's not what potential suitors want to see in October out of a free-agent target, especially one who could be an important signing at a critical position.

JBJ sets up Sox with another big HR in G4

Outfielder is 4th in club history with multiple RBIs in 3 straight games
MLB.com @feinsand

HOUSTON -- Jackie Bradley Jr. isn't overthinking his success this postseason.

"Putting good swings on good pitches," Bradley said after hitting a grand slam that broke Game 3 open on Tuesday night. "That's pretty much it."

View Full Game Coverage

HOUSTON -- Jackie Bradley Jr. isn't overthinking his success this postseason.

"Putting good swings on good pitches," Bradley said after hitting a grand slam that broke Game 3 open on Tuesday night. "That's pretty much it."

View Full Game Coverage

ALCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 5: Tonight, 8:09 p.m. ET on TBS

:: ALCS schedule and results ::

Bradley delivered another good swing in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series on Wednesday night, launching a two-run home run against Astros right-hander Josh James with two out in the sixth.

The blast -- which had an exit velocity of 104.2 mph, according to Statcast™ -- gave the Red Sox a lead they would never relinquish, moving them one win from their first World Series berth since 2013 with an 8-6 win that gave Boston a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

"We all know it's special," Bradley said. "We're playing our best ball against some of the best teams in the country. We're trying to do whatever we can to win a ballgame. We're one more away, but we still feel like we have a long way to go."

The Astros had taken a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the fifth in a game that featured so many twists and turns, fans must have felt like they were riding the wildest of roller coasters.

The energy in the ballpark was palpable after James retired the first two batters in the top of the sixth, but Christian Vazquez tempered that enthusiasm with a two-out double off the wall in right-center, putting the tying run in scoring position.

As it turned out, Bradley -- who already had seven two-out RBIs in the series on two big swings -- was also in scoring position thanks to his big swing, which traveled a projected 385 feet from home plate, according to Statcast™, for the go-ahead homer.

ALCS fun fact: Each of JBJ's big hits have come with two outs

The Red Sox added runs in both the seventh and eighth, building a three-run lead for the bullpen.

Video: Bradley delivers clutch hits in Games 2-4 of ALCS

"It was a big momentum shift," Bradley said. "They took the lead, so to be able to take it back, I felt the energy from my teammates. It was a big moment. A big moment for us. To be able to tack on two more, you never feel like it's enough runs."

Bradley has driven in multiple runs in three straight games, having hit a three-run double off the Green Monster in Boston's Game 2 win. The only other players in Red Sox history to record multiple-RBI games in three consecutive postseason contests are Manny Ramirez (2004), John Valentin (1999) and Nomar Garciaparra (1998). Garciaparra is the only one of the group to knock in three-or-more runs in three straight.

Tweet from @MLB: JBJesus has saved the @RedSox. #ALCS pic.twitter.com/AFOrdQDiVp

"I'm very proud of him, what he's done in the second part of the season and what he's done tonight and in this series," manager Alex Cora said. "It's amazing. He keeps working on his craft, his swing. He understands now, he's staying through the ball, hitting the ball in the air. There's no more hitting line drives into the shift. Now he hits the ball in the air.

"He's giving himself a chance. All credit goes to him. He was the one, he found it and he's staying with his process and he's done an outstanding job."

Video: ALCS Gm4: Cora on Bradley's HR, performance in ALCS

Bradley hit .100 (1-for-10) with no RBIs in his first postseason series in 2016, then he hit .200 (3-for-15) in last year's ALDS loss to the Astros, homering twice while driving in five runs.

Bradley went 2-for-14 (.143) with no RBIs in Boston's first five postseason games, but after Wednesday's 1-for-2 game in which he also walked twice and was hit by a pitch, he's 3-for-10 (.300) with a team-high two homers and nine RBIs.

Video: ALCS Gm4: Bradley, Benny, bats power Sox to key win

Bradley acknowledged the benefit of playing in the postseason for a third straight October, but experience alone isn't enough to guarantee success.

"We have experience, but whether you have experience or not, it all boils down to executing," Bradley said. "That's the goal. You want to go out there, you set out and have a plan, but you still have to play the game and execute."

Video: Jackie Bradley Jr. talks Game 4 win on MLB Tonight

Mark Feinsand is an executive reporter for MLB.com.

Boston Red Sox, Jackie Bradley Jr.

Miley removed after 1 batter, will start Game 6

Veteran lefty replaced by righty Woodruff after walking Bellinger
MLB.com @JoeTrezz

LOS ANGELES -- Brewers manager Craig Counsell put the plan in motion on Monday, when, tucked in a small room on the ground floor of Dodger Stadium, he publicly tabbed Wade Miley as his Game 5 starter. Privately, Miley was warned "things may be different." But it wasn't until more than a full day later that Miley learned he was a pawn, cast by Counsell to star in the back-and-forth battle that has defined this National League Championship Series.

NLCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 6: Friday, 8:39 p.m. ET/7:39 CT on FS1

View Full Game Coverage

LOS ANGELES -- Brewers manager Craig Counsell put the plan in motion on Monday, when, tucked in a small room on the ground floor of Dodger Stadium, he publicly tabbed Wade Miley as his Game 5 starter. Privately, Miley was warned "things may be different." But it wasn't until more than a full day later that Miley learned he was a pawn, cast by Counsell to star in the back-and-forth battle that has defined this National League Championship Series.

NLCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 6: Friday, 8:39 p.m. ET/7:39 CT on FS1

View Full Game Coverage

By the time Miley toed the rubber Wednesday afternoon, on three days' rest, he remained one of the few who knew the truth: No matter how Miley handled Dodgers leadoff man Cody Bellinger, the left-hander's day would then be done. Brandon Woodruff would follow, jogging out from Milwaukee's bullpen in the right-field corner to commence the Brewers' fourth bullpen game of the postseason and third of the NLCS.

"That's," Counsell said, "what we were going to do all along."

:: NLCS schedule and results ::

How history remembers the scheme and if it's mimicked in Octobers to come will probably hinge on how the series ends for the Brewers, starting on Friday, when their season will be on the line following Wednesday's 5-2 loss in Game 5 to the Dodgers, which put them down, 3-2, in the best-of-seven series.

But first, the certainties: Milwaukee will still return to Miller Park in what Counsell called "a position of strength," even facing elimination after letting Game 5 slip away.

Miley, arguably their top starter, is now set to start Game 6. Jhoulys Chacin, the other pitcher in that conversation, will prep for a possible Game 7. Both will be on full rest. Both will be backed by the full support of Milwaukee's vaunted bullpen, with Josh Hader, Jeremy Jeffress and Corey Knebel all having sat out Game 5. It is as enviable a position as possible for the Brewers, given the circumstances.

"We're sitting in a very good spot and we have a great opportunity," Counsell said. "And I know you're going to play, 'What if we could have captured another of these games?' But we're still going home and have a chance with this thing, with a bunch of guys in really good shape."

How long Miley's leash will be Friday remains to be seen. With Chacin available and several other Brewers relievers able to throw multiple innings, the smart money is on Miley functioning as something in between a traditional starter and the opener he was used as Wednesday, when he walked Bellinger on five pitches before giving way to Woodruff.

The goal, Counsell admitted, was "to get matchups." In that way, it was a chess move thematic of this series, which has pitted Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and Counsell against each other in a near-constant battle for platoon advantages.

Video: NLCS Gm5: Counsell on Miley strategy, Woodruff

"It's not my job to question it," Miley said. "We're trying to get to the World Series. This is the strategic side of it. I was in. Everybody bought in."

Woodruff struck out eight over 5 1/3 largely effective innings after Miley's exit, but Woodruff took the loss after allowing a go-ahead single to Max Muncy in Los Angeles' two-run sixth. Woodruff and Miley were both informed of the plan early Wednesday morning after Milwaukee used seven pitchers in its 13-inning Game 4 loss.

"Seeing the situation from last night," Woodruff said,"I could read between the lines."

Video: NLCS Gm5: Woodruff K's 8 over 5 1/3 innings in relief

The few who were in on it were sworn to secrecy. But as first pitch approached, word began to trickle out. Counsell tapped Mike Moustakas on the shoulder, with news an early mound visit would be coming. Ryan Braun was told. In the clubhouse, Miley spun his chair toward Christian Yelich, catching the outfielder off guard.

"I'm probably going to go out there and throw about four of those things," Miley said.

"What are you talking about?" Yelich said.

"I'm only throwing to the first batter," Miley said, before heading to the bullpen.

Woodruff watched in hiding as Miley warmed up, remaining in the bullpen tunnel until the two teams exchanged lineup cards.

"Then I came out," Woodruff said. "I was told not to inform anybody. I was told to keep it to myself."

It is unclear how aware the Dodgers were. Starting Miley kept the left-handed-hitting Joc Pederson and the right-handed-hitting Yasiel Puig (who had reverse splits this year) out of Roberts' starting lineup, but he moved the left-handed-hitting Bellinger to leadoff and started Max Muncy at second base. Roberts stacked his lineup with all righties against Miley in Game 2.

"You've got to prepare for the unexpected," Roberts said.

Video: NLCS Gm5: Roberts on unconventional usage of Miley

It's probably unwise to expect anything less going forward, with the Brewers' backs against the wall.

"We've got two starters lined up and we've got a bullpen that's going to get a day off," Counsell said, "and some key guys who are going to get multiple days off and be ready to go in a two-game stretch where we can use them."

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

Milwaukee Brewers, Wade Miley, Brandon Woodruff

Postseason close calls involving fans in the stands

MLB.com

When a first-inning drive to right field off the bat of Jose Altuve was ruled an out due to fan interference as Mookie Betts leaped at the wall during Wednesday's Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, the play joined several instances of close calls that involved potential fan interference in the postseason. Here's a look at seven of them dating back to 1996:

When a first-inning drive to right field off the bat of Jose Altuve was ruled an out due to fan interference as Mookie Betts leaped at the wall during Wednesday's Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, the play joined several instances of close calls that involved potential fan interference in the postseason. Here's a look at seven of them dating back to 1996:

Video: Must C Curious: Altuve out on fan interference

Jose Altuve, 2018 ALCS Game 4
Altuve drove a Rick Porcello fastball deep to right field in the first inning in a bid for a game-tying homer, and as Betts made his leap, multiple fans reached for the ball and deflected it back onto the field. Umpire Joe West ruled it to be fan interference, and that Altuve was out as a result. Upon replay review, the out call was upheld.

Video: ALCS Gm2: Correa hits a solo homer after review

Carlos Correa home run, 2017 ALCS Game 2
Correa lined a 99.3-mph fastball from the Yankees' Luis Severino for a solo home run to break a scoreless tie in the fourth inning at Minute Maid Park. But a young fan reached out and caught the ball on the fly right over the right-field wall as Aaron Judge was pursuing it, prompting a replay review for potential fan interference. Upon review, the call on the field was upheld, and the Astros took a 1-0 lead, going on to win the game, 2-1, to take a 2-0 series lead.

Video: ALCS Gm6: Kids discuss catching Moustakas' homer

Mike Moustakas home run, 2015 ALCS Game 6
Moustakas smashed a low line drive to right-center field off the Blue Jays' David Price in the second inning, and as it headed right for the threshold between the wall and the stands, Royals fan Caleb Humphreys reached out and caught the ball over the railing. Toronto right fielder Jose Bautista raised his hands to signal fan interference, and the play was reviewed. Upon replay, the home run was upheld. Kansas City went on to win that game to clinch the AL pennant before winning its first World Series title in 30 years.

Video: OAK@DET Gm4: V-Mart's reviewed homer ties game at 4

Victor Martinez home run, 2013 ALDS Game 4
Martinez belted a game-tying solo homer to right field off the Athletics' Sean Doolittle in the seventh inning at Comerica Park, but as soon as the ball landed, Oakland outfielders Josh Reddick and Coco Crisp argued a fan had interfered. A's manager Bob Melvin asked for a replay review, but the home run call was upheld. Detroit would go on to win Game 4, 8-6, to tie the series before advancing to the ALCS two nights later with a win in Oakland.

Video: Must C Crucial: Cano's homer helped by fans?

Robinson Cano home run, 2010 ALCS Game 4
Cano drove an 0-1 pitch from Rangers starter Tommy Hunter to deep right field at Yankee Stadium, and as right fielder Nelson Cruz leaped to try to rob a home run, multiple Yankees fans reached out and deflected the ball. The call on the field was a home run, and there was no replay review. Despite trailing at that point, the Rangers went on to win that game, 10-3, and the series in six games.

Video: 2003 NLCS Gm 6: Bartman interference

Steve Bartman foul ball, 2003 NLCS Game 6
With the Cubs six outs away from advancing to the World Series for the first time since 1945, starter Mark Prior went back to the mound for the eighth inning at Wrigley Field with a 3-0 lead over the Marlins. After retiring Mike Mordecai for the first out of the frame, Juan Pierre doubled to left field, bringing Luis Castillo to the plate. Castillo lofted a high popup in foul territory down the left-field line. Chicago left fielder Moises Alou drifted toward the stands and leaped for a catch. Bartman, who was sitting in the first row where the ball was headed, reached up and deflected the ball. From that point, aided by an Alex Gonzalez error on a play that might have resulted in an inning-ending double play, Florida scored eight times en route to forcing Game 7. The Marlins won the pennant, and then the World Series over the Yankees.

Video: Jeffrey Maier remembers catching Jeter's home run

Jeffrey Maier catches Derek Jeter home run, 1996 ALCS Game 1
With the Yankees trailing the Orioles in the eighth inning, 4-3, Jeter lofted a fly ball to deep right field at Yankee Stadium. Right fielder Tony Tarasco got back to the wall and reached up, but 12-year-old Yankees fan Jeffrey Maier caught the ball before it could potentially land in Tarasco's glove for the second out of the inning. Tarasco immediately pointed up to the stands to argue fan interference, but it was ruled a game-tying home run for New York. The Yankees would win the game on a Bernie Williams walk-off homer in the 11th. From there, New York went on to win the AL pennant and the first of four World Series titles from 1996-2000.

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.