The Red Sox went down in order in the second, third and fourth innings before awakening the shivering, sold-out Fenway crowd in the fifth with Steve Pearce's single - just their second hit in the game - and two walks.
Cora disagreed with a strike call that resulted in Andrew Benintendi stranding the bases loaded in the fifth inning. Houston only got one hit off of Sale, but he loaded the bases with two outs in the second on two walks and a hit batter before reigning World Series MVP George Springer singled in two runs past the glove of third baseman Eduardo Nunez, who slipped as he stretched for the ball.
It is a gamble on Cora's part, a determination to stick with the lefty to whom the Red Sox gave a seven-year, $217 million contract. Reporters say he had words for home plate umpire James Hoye and then ran onto the field and let Joe West have it following his ejection.
Down 0-1 in the series, the Red Sox will come back with David Price for Game 2 Sunday night.
The Astros did not have any lineup changes, but manager A.J. Hinch said he plans to start Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton in Games 3 and 4. Berkman slashed.415/.478/.780 with four home runs and a 1.259 OPS during his 10-game streak with the team; by comparison, Springer's last 10 playoff games have yielded a batting line of.429/.510/1.071 with eight homers and a 1.582 OPS.
Verlander was charged with two runs and four walks while striking out six.
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Josh Reddick and Yuli Gurriel added insurance in the ninth with home runs off Brandon Workman. You walk 10 and hit three more, you're not going to win many games.
The difference between him and Sale was that Verlander was able to collect himself, pitch a scoreless sixth and hand the game to his world-class bullpen.
"We'll see tomorrow", Boston catcher Sandy Leon said.
Red Sox: Is Game 2 a must-win for 108-win Red Sox?
Before Correa's hit, Verlander labored through the fifth but did not allow the Red Sox to go ahead. They can be beaten but the Sox need to hit, pitch and defend with stark consistency throughout the series to have a chance at knocking off the champs. They've also burned a Chris Sale start.
"I did expect to make more starts for us in this year's playoffs", Price said, "but Alex told me before we even got off the field that night, so for him to tell me before we even took our jerseys off to put on our postseason shirts, that was special".