HOUSTON—Andrew Benintendi charged in hard and left his feet.
Make the catch, Boston wins. If not . . . no telling.
On this night, though, even a ball the Red Sox didn't grab went their way.
Benintendi made a diving play in left field with the bases loaded for the final out as Boston held off the Houston Astros 8-6 last night to take a 3-1 lead in the AL Championship Series.
“I thought I could catch it and timed it up well,” Benintendi said.
“At that point, it was either do-or-die.”
Boosted by a questionable fan interference call and another home run from Jackie Bradley Jr. in a gripping, back-and-forth game, the Red Sox moved within one victory of their first World Series trip since winning the 2013 title.
Craig Kimbrel earned a shaky six-out save, helped by a rocket throw from right-fielder Mookie Betts and Benintendi's daring grab of Alex Bregman's sinking liner.
Had the ball scooted past Benintendi, it easily could have scored three runs and won the game for Houston.
“'Beni' took a shot. Had a great jump and he got it,” said Boston manager Alex Cora.
With that, the Red Sox improved to 4-0 on the road in these playoffs and inched closer to eliminating the defending World Series champs.
“This game was incredibly good on both sides—great at-bats, great plays,” said Astros' manager AJ Hinch.
“The difference in that game literally was a couple inches.”
Game 5 is tonight in Houston, where ace Justin Verlander will pitch for the Astros with their season on the line.
David Price, who was warming up in the bullpen late in Game 4, will start for Boston on three days' rest after Chris Sale was ruled out yesterday while recovering from a stomach illness.
Bradley hit a go-ahead homer in the sixth inning—his latest huge swing for a Red Sox team that got knocked out of last year's playoffs by Houston in the division series.
Boston has won three-straight after a Game 1 loss, and this one came with some controversy.
Astros' star Jose Altuve was denied a potential two-run homer in the first inning and called out after fans reaching for the ball interfered with Betts' attempt at a leaping catch.
“Jose pays the biggest price because the trajectory of the ball looked like it was going to leave the ballpark,” Hinch said.
“Changed that whole inning.”