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World Series: Dodgers freeze up in Boston; Red Sox take 2-0 series lead

Los Angeles Times sportswriter Andy McCullough talks with sports columnists Dylan Hernandez and Bill Plaschke as they break down the Dodgers' World Series Game 2 loss.

The Fenway Park security guard climbed atop the visitor's dugout and motioned toward the clutch of Dodgers fans huddled near the tunnel that connects the field to the clubhouse. The staffer waved his hands at the group late Wednesday evening.

"Out! Out! Out!" the guard said. "Time to go!"

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The fans were bundled in Dodgers jackets and beanies, wearing enough layers to stave off the 40-degree chill as midnight approached. They had more interest sticking around Boston than the Dodgers themselves after two nights getting squashed by the Red Sox. After a 4-2 loss in Game 2 of the World Series, the Dodgers will fly to Los Angeles on Thursday in jeopardy of seeing their season end this weekend at Dodger Stadium.

"It's going to be warmer," Cody Bellinger reasoned. "And hopefully our bats will get hot too."

The bats were colder than the climate Wednesday. After a fourth-inning flurry, the hitters produced nothing against Boston starter David Price and the relievers who replaced him after the sixth inning. The Dodgers finished the night on an 0-for-16 skid. The group compiled three hits and struck out eight times, whimpering through the finish line after a go-ahead single by Yasiel Puig in the fourth inning.

Handed a lead, the duo of Hyun-Jin Ryu and Ryan Madson let it disappear. Ryu permitted three runners to reach base in the fifth inning with two outs. Madson allowed all of them to score.

Manager Dave Roberts paid for his faith in Madson, and found his team two defeats away from another season without a championship.

"We've got to find a way," Roberts said, "to win a baseball game."

That task proved elusive at Fenway Park. The offense has yet to materialize. Neither Ryu nor Clayton Kershaw could complete the fifth inning. Madson combusted in both games. The team allowed Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, who teetered on the high wire earlier in the postseason, to cruise through two outings.

The Dodgers can comfort themselves with the presence of rookie pitcher Walker Buehler for Game 3. They will also roll out a lineup that features more power than the group they used in Boston.

With Boston planning to start right-handed pitcher Rick Porcello in Game 3 on Friday, the Dodgers will build a batting order that includes Bellinger, Max Muncy and Joc Pederson. All three sat Wednesday for the second day in a row, as Roberts utilized the same lineup as he did in Game 1 against left-handed starter Chris Sale.

The adjustments stressed by Roberts from Tuesday to Wednesday were small. The team felt satisfied with how they made Sale work in Game 1, and hoped to replicate that approach against Price in Game 2.

They aimed to shore up the defensive lapses that plagued them in the opener. Enrique Hernandez would play shallower in center field. The coaching staff counseled Yasiel Puig to avoid overthrowing the cut-off man. The team aimed to prevent creating openings for the Red Sox offense.

"Teams that play well at home feast on extra outs, extra bases," Roberts said before the game. "You have to minimize that. For us to play the game straight, we're going to come out on top. But if we don't, we just make it tough on ourselves."

The offense faced Price, who was coming off the first postseason victory as a starter in his career. His playoff resume was littered with duds, but he threw six scoreless innings on short rest in the American League Championship Series clincher over Houston.

Price looked strong at the outset Wednesday. He froze Justin Turner with a 92-mph fastball for a first-inning strikeout. Chris Taylor fanned on another fastball in the second, and Price got a charitable called-third strike from umpire Kerwin Danley to ring up Matt Kemp later in the inning.

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"He just had all his pitches," first baseman David Freese said. "I think he was confident. I think after the last outing, he was like 'Sure, let's go.' And he came out, and did the same thing."

Boston built a lead for Price in the bottom of the second inning. Ryu got punished for a flat changeup to shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who doubled off the Green Monster. Former Angel Ian Kinsler laced a single into left to bring home Bogaerts.

The Dodgers got to Price in the fourth. Freese and Manny Machado opened the inning with singles. A walk by Taylor loaded the bases with none out. Kemp hacked at a first-pitch changeup, tying the score with a sacrifice fly. With two outs, Puig gave the Dodgers their first lead of the series by lifting a 93-mph fastball over Kinsler's head for an RBI single.

The Red Sox answered in the fifth. Ryu permitted a two-out single to catcher Christian Vazquez, who hit .207 during the regular season. Mookie Betts generated his second hit in as many at-bats. As Ryu prepared for the left-handed-hitting Andrew Benintendi, Madson started to warm in the bullpen.

The concept of warming up took on new meaning at Fenway Park. Madson mentioned earlier Wednesday that he was thrown off-guard by the temperature while loosening up Tuesday. When he came into Game 1, he threw a wild pitch and walked the first batter he faced, then allowed both runners on base to score. Madson suggested he was still fighting through his mechanics in the first at-bat.

The temperature registered at 47 degrees at first pitch Wednesday, but Madson had ample time to prepare for his assignment. As Madson threw in the bullpen, Ryu and Benintendi engaged in a protracted confrontation. The affair lasted eight pitches and included three mound visits. It ended with a fastball in the dirt, and Benintendi trotting to first base.

"It was a moment I could've ended the inning," Ryu said through his interpreter, Bryan Lee. "Obviously, I couldn't do that. and if I was able to command my pitches better, I think there would've been different results."

The walk ended Ryu's evening and dumped Madson back into the deep end. He sank. Madson issued a five-pitch walk to first baseman Steve Pearce, flinging four fastballs above the zone to force in the tying run.

Up next was J.D. Martinez, the former Arizona Diamondback who slugged .629 this season and led baseball with 130 runs batted in. Earlier in the day, Madson found an apt metaphor for facing Martinez. He compared the experience to being "in a pit with a rattlesnake," he said. "And one bad move, you'll get bit if you're not paying attention."

On the first pitch, Madson felt the sting on a 94-mph fastball on the inner half of the plate. Martinez displayed enough strength to muscle a two-run, opposite-field single into right. The hit returned the lead to Boston.

Madson struggled to explain his recent downturn afterward.

"I don't know if it's mechanical or physical or emotional," Madson said. "There's a lot of elements going on in there. You've just got to regroup and start over again."

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The Dodgers have only a day to regroup.

The temperature will reside in the 80s on Friday. Their lineup will feature more sluggers. And they will have Buehler, making his first World Series start. They must take solace in these things, because the 18 innings at Fenway Park left little reason for optimism.

"We've got Walk on the mound," Freese said. "Give him the rock, and let's go. We need it. We need it to be 2-1."

Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Matt Kemp talks about Game 2 of the World Series.

Twitter: @McCulloughTimes

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