The Red Sox had to settle for a series split with the Braves on Wednesday night after getting walked off on in the ninth inning. Boston fell to Atlanta by a final score of 5-3 in what was their fifth walk-off loss of the season. Their record is now 11-20.
Matched up against Braves starter Ian Anderson out of the gate, the Sox got off to a quick start beginning in their half of the second inning. Following a one-out double off the bat of Alex Verdugo, Trevor Story came through with his highly-anticipated first home run of the season.
Story took a 1-1, 88 mph changeup that was down and in and proceeded to crush it 422 feet to dead center field. The second baseman’s first homer in a Red Sox uniform left his bat at 105.8 mph and give his team an early 2-0 lead.
An inning later, Rafael Devers kept the top of the third alive with a hard-hit double to right field. He immediately scored from second base on a J.D. Martinez RBI single that increased Boston’s advantage to 3-0.
Nathan Eovaldi, meanwhile, was in the midst of his seventh start of the season for the Sox. The right-hander wound up allowing three runs on six hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings of work.
After getting through the first two innings rather smoothly, Eovaldi ran into some trouble in the bottom of the third when he gave up his first hit of the night — a one-out single to Orlando Arcia. On his very next pitch, Eovaldi was taken 415 feet deep to left field by Travis Demeritte.
Demeritte’s two-run blast cut Atlanta’s deficit down to one run at 3-2. Dansby Swanson then drew a seven-pitch walk off Eovaldi, stole second base, and scored from second on a blistering, game-tying 106.5 mph RBI double from Georgia native Matt Olson.
Eovaldi did manage to strand Olson in scoring position, though, and then retired 10 of the next 12 batters he faced before yielding a one-out single to Arcia in the seventh, which is how is outing would come to a close. Finishing with a final pitch count of 98 (68 strikes), the 32-year-old hurler induced a total of 18 swings-and-misses while topping out at 99.1 mph with his vaunted four-seam fastball.
Shortly before Eovaldi’s night ended, a Red Sox lineup that had been held in check by Anderson since the third inning had a real chance to break out in the sixth. Martinez led off with a single and Verdugo put runners on first and second with a one-out walk. Following an Atlanta pitching change that saw old friend Collin McHugh take over for Anderson, Franchy Cordero loaded the bases for Kevin Plawecki by drawing a two-out walk.
Plawecki worked a 3-2 count against McHugh and was prepared to take the bases-loaded walk by taking an 89.3 mph cutter that was well below the strike zone. Rather than call ball four, however, home plate umpire Adam Beck rung Plawecki up. Plawecki spiked his helmet and was understandably furious, as was Red Sox manager Alex Cora. Both were ejected from the game and Christian Vazquez took over behind home plate.
Picking it back up with one out in the bottom of the seventh, acting manager Will Venable gave Eovaldi the hook in favor of Matt Strahm, who struck out both Demeritte and Dansby Swanson to end the seventh before recording the first out of the eighth as well. John Schreiber then took over for Strahm and got through the rest of the frame unscathed.
Ryan Brasier was responsible for sending this one into extras as he got the call for the ninth. He gave up a leadoff single to Ozzie Albies, got the first out of the inning, but then served up a game-winning, walk-off homer to Arcia.
Arcia’s two-run shot sent the Braves home happy with a 5-3 win. It sent the Red Sox back on the road with a sour taste in their mouths.
Next up: Off day with Rangers on deck
The Red Sox will enjoy their second off day of the week on Thursday before opening up a three-game weekend series against the Rangers in Arlington on Friday night.
Boston will send right-hander Nick Pivetta to the mound on Friday. Texas has yet to name a starter.
First pitch from Globe Life Field is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Alex Cora: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)