Rick Porcello will start Game 3 of the World Series on Friday. If he gives Boston five solid innings, the Red Sox should be fine.

That is how well the Boston staff is pitching, especially the relievers. The Los Angeles Dodgers, down 2-0 in this Series, have recorded three hits and one run off Boston’s bullpen – with the run and two of the hits coming off Ryan Brasier in a rare but harmless poor outing.

Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts hopes his batters have seen Boston’s arms enough to make adjustments.

“We’ve got to find a way to win a baseball game,” Roberts said Wednesday night after Game 2, when his last 16 batters made outs.

“Coming in here I thought we played these guys pretty straight up … (but) we come out of here going home down 2-0.

“They made pitches when they needed to. And when we stressed them, they made the pitch.”

The bullpen, thought to be Boston’s weak link, has held postseason opponents to a .181 average. And beginning with Game 2 of the Yankees series, Red Sox relievers have stranded 16 of their last 17 inherited runners.

In the World Series, Joe Kelly, Nathan Eovaldi and Craig Kimbrel have combined to retire all 18 batters they faced.

Kelly is the surprise. Always considered a powerful arm with much potential, Kelly has had his rocky times – from the season opener (four runs allowed, one out recorded) to terrible stretches in June (8.31 ERA), July (8.38) and September (8.31).

In late September, Manager Alex Cora and pitching coach Dana LaVangie sat down with Kelly. It was a pep talk and chat about mechanics.

“He made some adjustments and the stuff started playing again,” Cora said.

The stuff begins with a 100 mph fastball that is even nastier when Kelly has his hard curve and change-up working.

With adjustments came command of his off-speed. He no longer is “just a guy in the bullpen,” Cora said. “Now he’s back in the equation.”

Kelly’s first World Series appearance was in the sixth inning in Game 1. The Red Sox led 5-3. Kelly needed 14 pitches to go 1-2-3 with two strikeouts.

In Game 2, Kelly got the seventh inning, the first pitcher in relief of David Price. Max Muncy struck out on four pitches, Yasiel Puig grounded out softly and Yasmani Grandal struck out looking.

“When Joey is throwing strikes with all his pitches, he might be one of the toughest relievers in the big leagues,” Cora said. “Because his stuff is that good.”

Follow Kelly with Eovaldi, the “rover” as Cora likes to call his starters he can use in relief. Eovaldi is scheduled to start Game 4 but Cora said those plans could change.

“You never know,” Cora said. “Nate might throw some in the eighth (in Game 3). If we have a chance to be up 3-0 with (Eovaldi) on the mound and Craig (Kimbrel), we’ll do it. And then we’ll figure out Game 4.”

Roberts won’t be surprised.

“Such a big arm (to) get the ball to Kimbrel,” Roberts said. “(Boston) using Eovaldi obviously makes our task a little bit tougher.”

Kimbrel has made his own adjustments, going from being adventurous in the ALCS to lockdown in the World Series.

If Porcello leaves Friday night with the lead after six innings, Boston goes up 3-0. If Porcello goes five, then Matt Barnes throws an inning. Only four innings from Porcello, then Brasier gets a frame. Heath Hembree (three games, 0.00 ERA) is also in the mix.

Complementing them are Eduardo Rodriguez and Drew Pomeranz.

Games 3 and 4 (and 5, if necessary) are in Dodger Stadium. The way the Red Sox are playing, with pitching and clutch hitting, it’s hard to see this World Series coming back to Boston.

In the 2004 and 2007, the Red Sox began with two home wins and finished the World Series with sweeps.

Roberts was on that 2004 team, which won eight straight games in the ALCS and World Series.

“As a player in 2004, we definitely felt that (momentum),” Roberts said. “It began in the ALCS, and there was just a momentum and a feeling … It just didn’t really matter who we were playing, where we were playing. We were just all kind of synced up.

“Right now on the other side, as a manager and being down 2-0, I think (Friday) obviously is an important game. We’re at home to stop the momentum … it’s a game that we really need to win.”

To stop these Red Sox, Los Angeles will have to beat their arms.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

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