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Nunez homer powers Red Sox over Dodgers in World Series opener

© GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP | Boston's Eduardo Nunez smashed a three-run homer as the Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-4 in the World Series opener

BOSTON (AFP) - 

Boston pinch-hitter Eduardo Nunez smashed a three-run homer over the towering "Green Monster" left-field wall and the Red Sox defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-4 in Tuesday's World Series opener.

With Boston clinging to a one-run lead, the 31-year-old Dominican reserve infielder blasted the offering from Dodgers reliever Alex Wood over the Fenway Park landmark and the Red Sox seized the lead in Major League Baseball's best-of-seven final, which continues here Wednesday.

Boston outfielder Andrew Benintendi became only the third Red Sox batter with four hits in a World Series game after Jacoby Ellsbury in 2007 and Wally Moses in 1946, scoring three times in the hosts' triumph.

"We were able to execute," Benintendi said. "For the most part we were able to do what we wanted to do. We were able to get on the board early and often and that's what we're trying to do."

The Red Sox seek a ninth title overall, the first since 2013 and fourth in 15 seasons, while the Dodgers, who fell one win shy of last year's crown, chase their seventh World Series trophy but first since 1988.

Windy and rain-drenched Fenway Park had the coldest conditions the Dodgers had endured all year, but they twice rallied to equalize until Nunez broke open the back and forth contest.

- Machado drives in three -

Dodgers shortstop Manny Machado, despised by Red Sox fans after a 2017 slide that injured Boston's Dustin Pedroia, ignored boos and derisive chants to drive in three runs.

Machado smacked a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to centerfield in the seventh inning that scored pinch hitter Max Muncy from third base to pull Los Angeles within 5-4.

Boston answered later in the seventh when Benintendi lofted a ground-rule double down the left-field line and Martinez was walked ahead of Nunez's homer.

Red Sox reliever Craig Kimbrel retired the final three Dodgers batters in the ninth to complete the victory.

South Korean left-hander pitcher Ryu Hyun-Jin of the Dodgers will start game two Wednesday for the Dodgers against Red Sox lefty David Price, a 16-game winner this season.

Boston's Alex Cora, the first World Series manager from Puerto Rico, and LA counterpart Dave Roberts, of African-American and Japanese heritage, became the first minority opposing managers in World Series history -- exactly 73 years to the day from Jackie Robinson signing with the Dodgers to become the first African-American in the major leagues.

- Sale, Kershaw out early -

Two of baseball's most storied clubs met in the World Series for the first time in 102 years with a seven-time All-Star left-hander starter on the mound for each. But neither Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw nor Boston's Chris Sale went deeper than two batters into the fifth inning.

Boston leadoff batter Mookie Betts, the major league's top hitter, singled and stole second base then scored when Benintendi singled. J.D. Martinez later singled Benintendi in for a 2-0 Boston lead.

Dodgers designated hitter Matt Kemp blasted a second inning solo homer off Sale over the Green Monster in his first World Series at-bat.

The Dodgers, who offered the first all right-handed batting lineup in World Series history, equalized in the third on consecutive singles by Justin Turner, David Freese and Machado.

A video review overturned a double play to put Boston's Steve Pearce at first base with two outs in the third and Martinez made the Dodgers pay by knocking him in with a double off the centerfield wall for a 3-2 Red Sox edge.

Again Los Angeles responded. Brian Dozier walked to send Sale to the showers, but Boston reliever Matt Barnes issued a single to Turner, threw a wild pitch to advance both base runners and surrendered a ground out to Machado that drove in Dozier from third to pull the Dodgers level.

Kershaw was lifted after a walk to Betts and Benintendi single in the fifth but reliever Ryan Madson walked Pearce to load the bases. Madson struck out Martinez but Xander Bogaerts hit into a fielder's choice that scored Betts and Rafael Devers, a Dominican third baseman on the eve of his 22nd birthday, singled to right to score Benintendi for a 5-3 Red Sox lead, setting up the late drama.

© 2018 AFP