Whew!

In what could be a World Series preview, the Boston Red Sox (77-55) pulled into town to pay the Dodgers a three-game visit this past weekend, and after Sunday’s 8-1 thrashing came away with enough confidence to fill a large stocking.

So intrigued by the matchup, I found myself at Dodger Stadium for the finale, and witnessed an overwhelming performance by one-time Cy Young winner Jake Peavy, who worked a perfect first, second, seventh, eighth and ninth inning.

The one-time San Diego Padres and Chicago White Sox hurler held the Blue Crew (76-54) in check over nine innings, allowing one run (earned), three hits with five strikeouts and one walk.

Peavy’s opposite was Chris Capuano, who didn’t pitch poorly despite being tagged with his seventh loss in 11 decisions.

“I felt strong and I felt that I was executing my game plan,’’ said Capuano, who went five innings and gave up six hits and three runs (earned). “These guys [Red Sox] grind out every at-bat. Ultimately it was just one game. We hope to meet them again later.”

After taking the opener 2-0 on Hanley Ramirez’s homer in the fourth inning on Friday, losing 4-2 on Saturday to Jon Lester’s three-hitter over seven and one-third innings, the Dodgers fell behind 1-0 in the first inning on Sunday when Shane Victorino, originally drafted by the Dodgers, doubled with one out, advanced to third base on Dustin Pedroia’s infield hit, and scored on Mike Napoli’s double.

Capuano retired the side in order during the second inning, but yielded an infield hit to Jacoby Ellsbury, who promptly stole second base.

Ellsbury, who leads the majors with 47 stolen bases, advanced to third base on Victorino’s grounder, and scored on Pedroia’s sacrifice fly.

Meanwhile, Peavy (10-5) fanned Carl Crawford and Nick Punto in the opening frame, and got Adrian Gonzalez to fly out.

Peavy was on target in the second inning when he got Ramirez to pop out, and rookie sensation Yasiel Puig and Skip Schumaker on grounders.

In the bottom of the third, A.J. Ellis led off with a walk, but Peavy retired Juan Uribe on a fly out, Capuano on a grounder, and fanned Crawford.

Will Middlebrooks singled with one out off Capuano in the fourth, and after Jarrod Saltalamacchia lined out, Xander Bogaerts doubled in a run that made it 3-0.

Gonzalez had the better of Peavy in the fourth inning when he lined a one-out solo homer (17th) to center, but Peavy recovered and got Ramirez and Puig on grounders.

Capuano set down Ellsbury, Victorino and Pedroia in the fifth before exiting in favor of Chris Withrow, who gave up Saltalamacchia’s two-out, two-run homer to left in the sixth inning that scored Napoli, who walked to open the frame.

Crawford led off the sixth with a single against Peavy, but the right-hander from Alabama induced Punto to foul out, Gonzalez to fly out, and Ramirez to foul out.

Boston scored a run on Victorino’s two-out homer in the seventh off Withrow to make it 6-1. Pedroia then singled to right field, but Napoli popped out.

The scoring came to close in the ninth inning when Pedroia doubled down the right field line off Brandon League with two out, and Napoli followed with a towering shot (16th) that landed more than halfway up the left field pavilion to make it 8-1.

Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at mailto:richsports5@sbcglobal.net

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