Los Angeles (AFP) – Steve Pearce smashed two home runs as the Boston Red Sox romped to their ninth World Series crown on Sunday, pounding the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 with a ruthless display of hitting to clinch the Major League Baseball championship with two games to spare.
Pearce’s double-blast sandwiched home runs from Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez to seal a 4-1 victory in the best-of-seven match-up as the Dodgers’ quest for a first World Series title since 1988 ended in disappointment.
“This has been a lifelong journey,” said Pearce, who was later named Series MVP. “To be here right now is a dream come true.”
The 35-year-old Pearce, who supported the Red Sox as a boy, only joined the club in June after an 11-year career in the Majors.
“Best feeling in my life,” he said. “This is what you grow up wishing that you could be a part of something like this.”
Red Sox pitcher David Price claimed the win with a sublime pitching performance, notching five strikeouts in seven masterful innings for one run and just three hits conceded.
It was another ice-cold display from Price, who had also shut down the Dodgers’ expensively-assembled batting line-up in game two of the series at Fenway Park on Wednesday.
But it was yet another bitter postseason outing for Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, who once again failed to deliver on the big occasion with the Dodgers needing a victory to take the series to a game six in Boston.
The 30-year-old Texan lefty, who had also given up five runs in a mauling by the Red Sox offense in game one, is widely regarded as the greatest pitcher of his generation.
But his dream of crowning a decade of regular season dominance with a World Series ring looks more remote than ever after a brutal pummeling in what could turn out to be his final outing with the Dodgers if he opts out of the remaining two years on his contract.
The Dodgers were left to watch a visiting team celebrate a World Series at Dodger Stadium for a second year running following the Houston Astros’ victory in game seven of the Fall Classic last season.
“There’s only one team that can win and we know that, but it just hurts worse when you make it all the way and get second place,” Kershaw said.
“So having done that two years in a row now, it doesn’t make it any easier.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts gave a frank assessment of his expensively assembled team’s failure to end their World Series drought.
“Ran up against a very good ballclub,” Roberts said. “And just a little bit too much for us.
“Ultimately, and it’s tough to say, but the better team won.”
– Fast start –
The Red Sox took the lead in the first inning, quickly going after Kershaw to get the first runs on the board.
After Betts flied out to left center-field, Andrew Benintendi drove through a gap to reach first base.
Pearce, Boston’s hero from Saturday’s 9-6 game four win after blasting a home run and a three-run double, picked up where he left off the previous night with a towering home run over center field to make it 2-0.
The Dodgers were quick to respond in the bottom of the first, with first baseman David Freese bludgeoning Price’s first pitch into right field for a home run to cut the lead to 2-1.
After the early burst of scoring, however, Kershaw and Price settled into their respective rhythms in a tightly contested pitching duel.
After neither side were able to engineer scoring opportunities through the fourth and fifth innings, Boston finally stretched their lead in the sixth.
This time the opening fell to American League Most Valuable Player contender Betts, who pounced on an 89-mph slider to send it hurtling 385 feet into the left field bleachers for a 3-1 lead.
With Price mopping up the bottom of the sixth with ease for Boston, Kershaw’s night got worse as J.D Martinez battered the Dodgers ace with the first pitch of the seventh inning, homering to center field for 4-1.
A weary Kershaw then gave way to reliever Pedro Baez in the eighth, but there was no respite for the Dodgers.
Pearce lashed his second home run of the night to left field to leave Boston 5-1 ahead and cruising.
With the Dodgers unable to score in the eighth, it was left to Chris Sale to mop up the final three outs.