BOSTON (AP) — Mookie Betts looked up at the reporters gathering around his locker in the visitor’s clubhouse at Fenway Park and asked: “Didn’t anybody else play good?”
Yes, Mookie. A lot of your Dodgers teammates did. But baseball fans — especially those in Boston — still want to hear from you.
The 2018 AL MVP — who is among the favorites for the NL award this season — capped his return to Boston with a second straight three-hit game, connecting for a two-run homer to spark Los Angeles to a 7-4 victory over his former team on Sunday.
“Obviously, the emotions were there,” said Betts, who won a World Series with the Red Sox in 2018 and another in Los Angeles after he was traded there that spring in a salary dump. “I let them come. But I also let them go.”
Freddie Freeman also had three hits, and James Outman homered to help the Dodgers improve to 21-4 in August. Gavin Stone (1-0) earned his first career victory, following opener Caleb Ferguson to the mound and holding Boston to two runs over the next six innings before giving up homers on back-to-back pitches to start the eighth.
Playing in Boston for the first time as a Red Sox opponent, Betts collected seven hits and a series of standing ovations over three games, acknowledging the crowd with a wave of his batting helmet on Sunday before he led off the game with a single.
Freeman doubled him to third, but Tanner Houck (3-8) got out of the inning without allowing a run. Los Angeles scored one run in the fourth and another in the fifth before Betts cleared the Green Monster in the sixth to make it 4-0.
It was his 35th homer of the season, tying a career high he set last year. He pumped his arm as he rounded the bases, with the Fenway fans saluting the 2018 AL MVP with a mixture of applause and chants of “Mookie!”
“To still focus on the job at hand, it’s not easy to do,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, whose stolen base in the 2004 AL Championship Series has made him a hero in Boston as well.
“I’m sure he’s going to sleep well tonight. I’m sure he’s physically and emotionally exhausted,” Roberts said. “But, man, he’s a pro and he does a great job of compartmentalizing. It’s fun when you have expectations for a superstar and he delivers. And he did.”
Triston Casas homered in the sixth for Boston before Outman responded with an RBI single in the seventh. Betts singled in one run and scored another in the eighth to make it 7-2; it was 7-4 after Justin Turner and Adam Duvall homered to chase Stone in the eighth.
Ex-Boston reliever Ryan Brasier came in and retired the next three batters before Evan Phillips pitched the ninth for his 21st save. Freeman had two doubles, giving him a major league-leading 50 for the season — the most for a Dodger since they moved to Los Angeles in 1958.
Between them, Betts and Freeman had 14 hits in the series.
“Those two guys at the top of the order had a great series and that was fun,” Roberts said. “I’ve never seen two guys, in recent memory, play the way they have — on both sides of the baseball.”
Since starting the season 3-0 with a 4.29 ERA, Houck has lost eight consecutive decisions. He is 0-2 in two starts since spending two months on the injured list after getting hit in the face by a line drive on June 16.
Casas’ two-run drive made it 4-2 and gave the Red Sox 16 straight games with a homer. It’s their longest such streak since August 2019. Boston has homered in 24 of its 25 August games.
After homering to lead off three straight games, Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo led off the bottom of the first with a groundout to Betts at second base. Verdugo’s three-game leadoff homer streak remains a Red Sox record and is tied for second-longest in the majors only to Baltimore’s Brady Anderson, who did it in four games in a row in 1996.
Red Sox: Placed LHP Brennan Bernardino on the COVID-19-related injured list and recalled LHP Chris Murphy from Triple-A Worcester.
Dodgers: Open a three-game series at home against Arizona on Monday night. RHP Bobby Miller (7-3) will start for Los Angeles.
Red Sox: Play the first of three games against the Astros on Monday night, with LHP Chris Sale (5-3) facing Houston’s Cristian Javier (9-2).
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb