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Boston bats just keep on bashing as team rallies to top Braves

By BILL KOCH
The Providence Journal, R.I.

May 26. 2018 10:36PM
Boston left fielder Andrew Benintendi (16) celebrates with second baseman Dustin Pedroia after scoring against the Atlanta Braves in the sixth inning at Fenway Park. (Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports)



BOSTON - No deficit feels insurmountable for this relentless Red Sox offense.

Trailing the Braves by three runs in the top of the third inning barely registered. Falling behind by two more in the fourth was another minor annoyance.

Boston's attack proceeded to score four times in its final six trips to the plate, bashing its way to an 8-6 victory over Atlanta on a steamy Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park.

The blistering Red Sox bats matched the rising temperatures on Memorial Day weekend, as Andrew Benintendi fell a double shy of the cycle and Mitch Moreland knocked home the eventual winning run on the second of his two extra-base hits. It was the 17th time Boston has rallied to victory this season, nearly half of the 36-win total that tops the big leagues.

Moreland hasn't taken much time settling into his role as the full-time first baseman. His two-run double to the corner in right in the sixth gave the Red Sox a 6-5 cushion and Benintendi visited the same spot with a two-run triple in the seventh. That was enough insurance for the Boston bullpen, which was forced to record 17 outs in relief of an ineffective Drew Pomeranz.

Benintendi's leadoff homer in the fourth was just the second of his career against a left-handed pitcher, as he skied one to the bleachers in center off Jesse Biddle. It was the first of five unanswered runs scored by the Red Sox to finish this one, as Hector Velazquez, Steven Wright, Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel combined to allow just one run over 5 2/3 innings. Wright's three scoreless frames caught the eye, with the knuckleballer possessing the length required to potentially move into the starting rotation.

Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel pitches the ninth inning of Boston's 8-6 win over the Atlanta Braves on Saturday at Fenway Park. (USA TODAY Sports)

It was another frustrating afternoon for Pomeranz, as the left-hander departed early for the third straight outing. He was tagged for five earned runs in 3 1/3 innings and has required 273 pitches to record his last 32 outs. Velazquez allowed a pair of inherited runners to score courtesy of a Freddie Freeman single and a Nick Markakis sacrifice fly, making it 5-3.

It was also a brief afternoon for Massachusetts native Sean Newcomb, as the young Atlanta left-hander lasted just three innings in his return home. Boston bogged Newcomb down in an interminable bottom of the third, erasing a 3-0 deficit while running his pitch count up to 88. Xander Bogaerts singled home Mitch Moreland after a one-out triple, Blake Swihart dunked an RBI single into short center and Christian Vazquez sent an RBI single through the right side to make it a 3-3 game.

Dansby Swanson's two-run homer to left in the second and Kurt Suzuki's RBI double off the Green Monster staked the Braves to a 3-0 lead, but it wasn't enough on this day. Ronald Acuna Jr. tagged a solo homer in the ninth against Kimbrel to lessen the final margin.


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