MLB playoffs 2021

MLB playoffs 2021: Red Sox stun Rays to advance, Giants put Dodgers on brink

The Boston Red Sox scored in the bottom of the ninth to defeat the Tampa Bay Rays and advance to the AL Championship Series.

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MLB playoffs 2021: Red Sox stun Rays to advance, Giants put Dodgers on brink

The Boston Red Sox found more Fenway Park magic Monday, knocking a Tampa Bay Rays team that posted the best record in the American League during the regular season out of the playoffs with a thrilling 6-5 victory. 

Kike Hernandez's sacrifice fly with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning brought home pinch-runner Danny Santana with the winning run in Game 4 as Boston took the Division Series 3-1. 

Earlier in the game, it appeared the Red Sox might cruise to victory. Rafael Devers crushed a three-run homer to spark a five-run third inning for the Red Sox with Rays starter Collin McHugh already out of the game after just two innings. 

But the Rays, who went 100-62 during the regular season, were not done yet. They began chipping away with a run in the fifth, then rookie sensation Wander Franco hit a two-run homer in the sixth. 

Run-scoring hits from Kevin Kiermaier and Randy Arozarena tied the game in the eighth and Kiermaier ensured it stayed that way in the bottom of the inning, gunning down Alex Verdugo with an outrageous throw from center field to third base for a double play that ended a Red Sox threat. 

The reprieve was short-lived for the Rays, as Christian Vazquez led off the bottom of the ninth with a single to left and Christian Arroyo bunted him to third. A misplayed grounder off the bat of Travis Shaw put runners on the corners and Hernandez drove in Santana to set off a wild celebration at the venerable ballpark.

The Red Sox have won eight consecutive games in which they had a chance to clinch a postseason series. Only the Oakland Athletics have a longer such streak, nine in a row between 1973 and 1990. 

Boston will face the Houston Astros or Chicago White Sox in the American League Championship Series. 

Longoria, Giants edge Dodgers in Game 3

Evan Longoria's fifth-inning home run off Max Scherzer was the difference as the San Francisco Giants edged the Los Angeles Dodgers 1-0 to put the reigning World Series champions on the brink of elimination. 

Longoria homered on a 0-2 fastball to lead off the fifth, virtually the only blemish for the Dodgers pitching staff as they limited the Giants to just three hits in Game 3. But that was enough, as San Francisco's pitching and defence made it stand up.

Starter Alex Wood and three relievers held the Dodgers to five hits with some significant help from their fielders, as Brandon Crawford in particular made a pair of stellar plays to rob Mookie Betts of hits. 

The powerful wind that played havoc on fielders all night also played a role, as Gavin Lux thought he had a home run to left-center on the final pitch of the game only to see it stay in play for the final out. 

Astros-White Sox Game 4 postponed

The Astros' hopes of eliminating the White Sox were put on hold when Game 4 of their series was postponed due to rain. The teams will make it up Tuesday afternoon in Chicago.

Pederson comes through for Braves again

Atlanta Braves outfielder Joc Pederson hit a pinch-hit home run off Milwaukee reliever Adam Houser in Game 1 but the Brewers ultimately prevailed. That was not the case in Game 3, as Pederson came off the bench again to hammer a three-run shot off Houser that provided all the offence in Atlanta's 3-0 win. The Braves can close out the series with a win at home on Tuesday. 

Monday's results

Atlanta Braves 3-0 Milwaukee Brewers
Boston Red Sox 6-5 Tampa Bay Rays
San Francisco Giants 1-0 Los Angeles Dodgers
Houston Astros-Chicago White Sox (postponed)

Giants at Dodgers

It all comes down to Game 4 for the Dodgers as they try to keep their season alive, needing a win at home to force a decider back in San Francisco on Thursday.