HOUSTON -- Jackie Bradley Jr. and Steve Pearce won't see their names on any Most Valuable Player Award ballots next month, but the two Red Sox hitters were as valuable as anybody on the field as Boston moved halfway to the World Series.Pearce's sixth-inning home run against Joe Smith snapped
HOUSTON -- Jackie Bradley Jr. and Steve Pearce won't see their names on any Most Valuable Player Award ballots next month, but the two Red Sox hitters were as valuable as anybody on the field as Boston moved halfway to the World Series.
Pearce's sixth-inning home run against Joe Smith snapped a tie, while Bradley's grand slam in the eighth off Roberto Osuna broke the game open as the Red Sox regained home-field advantage in the American League Championship Series with an 8-2 win over the Astros in Game 3 at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday.
"It's huge," Bradley said. "We're playing a really good team in Houston. Runs are at a premium. We never feel like enough runs is going to be enough."
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The eight runs -- highlighted by Boston's five-spot in the eighth -- were more than enough thanks to Nathan Eovaldi and the bullpen.
"It's a 3-2 ballgame until all hell broke loose in the eighth inning," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "A couple of hit-by-pitches and a huge swing by Bradley, and there's the game."
With the Red Sox leading, 2-1, in the third, and runners at first and second with two out, Pearce nearly added to the lead with a fly ball to deep left field. But Tony Kemp made a leaping catch at the wall to end the threat, allowing Alex Bregman to tie the game with an RBI double in the fifth.
When Pearce came to the plate in the sixth against Smith, he took a hard swing at a 1-0 fastball, hitting a towering fly ball down the left-field line.
"I knew it was going to leave the yard; I was hoping it would stay fair," Pearce said. "I hit it really well."
It did stay fair, landing in the seats above the high outfield wall. Boston had a 3-2 lead, quieting the Minute Maid Park crowd that had been rejuvenated only an inning earlier.
"Whenever you hit the ball out of the ballpark, it's important," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "But they just scored, and you could feel the place going nuts; it's getting loud and louder. So it's not that he took the crowd out of the game, but it gave us confidence."
Pearce's homer -- the first of his career in the postseason -- came off the bat at 107 mph, the second straight at-bat in which he scorched a ball in the triple-digit range for exit velocity.
"It felt great; I'm not going to lie," Pearce said. "I'm just glad it stayed fair. It was really close, and timely."
Hoping to hold the deficit at one run, Hinch sent Osuna, his closer, in for the eighth inning. Boston had a runner at first base with two out, but Rafael Devers singled and Osuna hit Brock Holt and pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland, both on two-strike pitches. Moreland's hit-by-pitch scored what looked to be an important insurance run, though that proved to be a moot point after Bradley launched a 1-1 fastball into the right-field seats for a grand slam, pushing the lead to six runs.
"Everyone wants to concentrate on the first four or five guys in the lineup, but if you look through history, it always comes down to those guys no one really expects to step up," J.D. Martinez said. "Those are the guys everyone looks past. When they come up big, it's a different game. It puts the pitchers in a tough spot. Steve and Jackie have been pretty much carrying us these last two games."
Bradley went 1-for-17 with four RBIs in bases-loaded situations during the regular season, but he's now 2-for-3 with seven RBIs in those situations in his past two games, hitting a three-run double in Game 2 and the grand slam in Game 3.
Bradley's slam was the sixth in Red Sox postseason history, the first since Shane Victorino's in Game 6 of the 2013 ALCS. Bradley also became the first non-pitcher or pinch-hitter to hit a postseason grand slam from the No. 9 spot in the lineup. In all three of Boston's World Series-winning seasons in the past decade and a half, a Red Sox outfielder hit a grand slam in the ALCS after not hitting one during the regular season -- with Bradley joining Victorino (2013), J.D. Drew ('07) and Johnny Damon ('04). Like Bradley, Victorino and Drew didn't have an extra-base hit with the bases loaded in that regular season.
"We erupted," Ryan Brasier said. "The crowd was pretty quiet after that. It was awesome."
Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001.