LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers blew a lead in the eighth. They made a seemingly deadly defensive gaffe in the 13th. They watched the first of Player Page for Max Muncy's would-be walk-off winners hook just right of the right-field foul pole in the 15th. But they somehow survived the wildest game of this postseason -- indeed, the longest game in postseason history -- and have salvaged their stake in this World Series.
Muncy connected on Nathan Eovaldi's 97th pitch of relief to swat an 18th-inning solo shot that gave the Dodgers an exhilarating-but-exhausting 3-2 victory over the Red Sox in Game 3 early Saturday morning. That cut their deficit down to 2-1 in a best-of-seven set that has suddenly shifted from one-sided to simply scintillating, with Boston's pitching plan torn to shreds and Los Angeles riding the kind of out-of-body energy that can only come from surviving a near-death experience.
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"You know, it's big time," Muncy said. "This was a gut-wrenching game for both sides. This is one of those games that whoever came out on top is going to have a lot of momentum going into [Saturday night]. This was an extremely long game, 18 innings. A lot of pitchers were used. Every position player was used. Injuries on both sides. Their guys are banged up, our guys are banged up. It's one of those things when you're able to come out on top from a game like this, you have to feel it gives you a little momentum going to the next one."
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No team has ever come back from a 3-0 hole in a World Series. That's the daunting definition the Dodgers faced if they would have lost this game. They won it -- seven hours, 20 minutes and 561 pitches after it began -- because Muncy, one of the surprise stars of this 2018 season, came through in the midnight hour, tying the Astros' Chris Burke (18th inning, Game 4, 2005 National League Division Series) for the latest walk-off hit in postseason history.
That, specifically, is how L.A. won this wild one.
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As for everything leading up to that moment? Well, it's complicated, of course.
The Dodgers got seven scoreless innings from rookie Walker Buehler, whose back-against-the-wall brilliance was reminiscent of rookie Fernando Valenzuela's Series-saving gem in Game 3 against the Yankees in 1981, and Los Angeles got an early solo homer from Joc Pederson off Rick Porcello. The Dodgers were four outs away from victory in the eighth, when Jackie Bradley Jr. continued the two-out artistry that has defined his October by connecting on a Kenley Jansen cutter for the solo shot that tied it up at 1.
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"It felt great," Bradley said of his blast. "Put us back in the game. As you can see, runs were at a premium tonight."
It remained tied into the 10th, when the Red Sox put runners on the corners with one out against Pedro Baez. But pinch-hitter Eduardo Nunez's fly ball to center set up Cody Bellinger's catch-and-throw that nabbed advancing pinch-runner Ian Kinsler well in front of home plate, with a perfect stretching tag applied by catcher Austin Barnes.
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On the game crept, deeper into extras. Boston manager Alex Cora maintained his October strategy of going all-in every night. He had already called on Game 2 starter David Price in the ninth by the time he summoned Eovaldi -- the guy who had already pitched in Games 1 and 2 and was scheduled to start Game 4 on Saturday night.
"He got up [to warm up] a few times," said Cora, "and that's when I decided, 'Well, if he warmed up twice, we should just let him go, because he's not going to start tomorrow.' And we just kept going."
That they did. There was no way of knowing Eovaldi's 1-2-3 12th would merely be the start of a marathon outing that would last longer than Porcello's. At the time, it merely put the Red Sox in position for what looked to be a lucky 13th.
• Many wild events in 13th inning of Game 3
Brock Holt drew a leadoff walk against Scott Alexander and swiped second. During Holt's stolen-base attempt, the ball bounced in front of Barnes, who knocked the batter, Nunez, to the ground in pursuit of the ball. A gimpy Nunez stayed in the game and sent a chopper to the right-hand side. Both Alexander and first baseman Muncy converged at the ball, leaving nobody covering first base. And when Alexander's toss to streaking second baseman Enrique Hernandez went out of Hernandez's reach, the throwing error allowed Holt to dash home to give Boston a 2-1 edge.
But the bottom of the 13th was even crazier. Facing Eovaldi, Muncy barely managed to check his swing on a full-count pitch to draw ball four. Manny Machado flied out and Bellinger popped up to the left-hand side. Nunez stormed to his right to chase down the ball and caught it in foul territory just before tumbling over the wall. Muncy advanced on the play, because, as stated within Rule 5.06, "If a fielder, after having made a legal catch, should step or fall into any out-of-play area, the ball is dead and each runner shall advance one base, without liability to be put out, from his last legally touched base at the time the fielder entered such out-of-play area."
So, in other words, L.A. had a runner at second and two outs. Yasiel Puig hit a hard grounder up the middle and hustled to first. Kinsler slipped as he fielded the ball and rushed his throw to first. The ball skipped into foul territory, allowing Muncy to score to even it up at 2, and the Dodgers had breathed new life into this impossible, unscriptable ballgame.
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"I had the last out in my glove and we ended up playing however many innings," Kinsler said. "I had an opportunity to end the game right there and it didn't happen."
Instead, it carried on into the 18th, when Alex Wood worked a scoreless inning. Muncy led off the bottom of the inning, which was Eovaldi's seventh of work, working the count full before lifting a 90-mph cutter over the left-center-field wall.
"Getting a chance to hit a walk-off home run, obviously there's not many words I can use to describe that," Muncy said. "The feeling was just pure joy and incredible excitement. That's about all I can think of, because it's hard to describe how good a feeling it is."
The odds are still daunting for the Dodgers, but they're improving. In the history of best-of-seven series with the 2-3-2 format, teams winning Game 3 to pull within 2-1 have gone on to take the series 12 of 42 times (29 percent). That includes nine of 33 times (27 percent) when the trailing club wins Game 3 at home.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Joc-tober: It happened so early that it might as well have happened in another ballgame altogether, but Pederson's third-inning homer in his first start of the Series was his fourth in a World Series (he hit three against Houston last year) and ended a stretch dating back to the fifth inning of Game 2 in which Los Angeles had been held hitless.
"Joc has really matured over the last three years, and he looks over the baseball very well," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "And when he can stay in the strike zone, he's very dangerous. And you look at his career in the postseason, he's had a lot of big homers, against some very good pitching, obviously. He doesn't let the moment get too big for him. And that hit to get us going was big."
Nunez on the ground: Nunez had a night emblematic of the overall insanity of this ballgame. He fell into the stands in pursuit of a foul ball. He fell by the mound in pursuit of a popup. And he fell when Barnes ran into him while chasing down a breaking ball in the dirt. The play at the plate was the most damaging one, as it wrenched Nunez's ankle.
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"After the dirt ball, when the catcher ran over him, he felt he was in bad shape," Cora said. "He's like, 'I'm not coming out.' I said, 'Well, you can't come out. We have no more players.'"
Eovaldi keeps going: Though he wound up taking the loss after going six-plus impressive frames, Eovaldi's willingness to go back out, inning after inning, in extras drew raves from both clubhouses.
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"That's what the World Series is all about," Roberts said. "What he did for that club, for me on the other side, we were kind of victim of it, but it was fun to watch."
• According to STATS LLC, Game 3 lasted longer than the entirety of the 1939 World Series, in which the Yankees swept the Reds in four games that took a combined seven hours and five minutes to play.
• 18 amazing facts from marathon Game 3 of WS
• Bradley is now one of only eight players in postseason history to notch 10 or more RBIs with two outs in a single year. The others are Sandy Alomar Jr. (14, 1997 Indians), Rich Aurilia (13, 2002 Giants), David Freese (11, 2011 Cardinals), Shane Victorino (11, '08 Phillies), Yogi Berra (10, 1956 Yankees), David Ortiz (10, '04 Red Sox) and Benito Santiago (10, '02 Giants).
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• The aforementioned Game 4 of the 2005 NLDS between the Astros and Braves and Game 2 of the 2014 NLDS between the Giants and Nationals are the only other postseason games to go 18 innings. Game 3 was longer than both of those games in terms of total time.
• The 18 combined pitchers used were the most in history for a postseason game.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Kinsler's errant throw on the Puig grounder became the subject of a replay review to determine whether Puig, who stopped running after getting to first because he was celebrating Muncy's game-tying run scored, should be at first or second base. The umpires in the replay-review center in New York checked to confirm whether the ball had bounced into and out of a camera well. It was ruled that the ball had stayed within the boundaries, so Puig remained at first. Barnes then flied out to end the inning.
HE SAID IT
"It's kind of waking me up. But I don't want that. I want to go to sleep." -- Muncy, on his postgame Gatorade shower