The Red Sox won the rubber match of their three-game series against the Cardinals on Sunday afternoon. Boston yet again held on for a 6-4 victory over St. Louis at Fenway Park to improve to 36-31 on the season and 13-4 in the month of June.
Nick Pivetta, making his 14th start of the year for the Sox, dazzled by limiting the Cards to one run on four hits and four walks to go along with 10 strikeouts over seven strong innings of work.
All four walks Pivetta gave up came within the first three innings of Sunday’s contest. The one run came on a two-out RBI single from Harrison Bader in the top of the fourth.
From there, though, Pivetta stranded Bader at third base by getting Ivan Herrera to strike out on six pitches. The right-hander then retired eight of the final 10 batters he faced and emphatically ended his outing by punching out the side in the top of the seventh.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 108 (65 strikes), Pivetta wound up throwing 60 four-seam fastballs, 35 knuckle-curveballs, and 13 sliders. The 29-year-old induced eight of his 12 swings-and-misses with the four-seamer while averaging 93.3 mph and topping out at 95.1 mph with the pitch.
Following Sunday’s performance, Pivetta now owns a 1.77 ERA in his last nine starts dating back to May 7. The Red Sox are 7-2 in those games.
By the time Pivetta’s afternoon had come to an end, the Sox lineup had already compiled a 2-1 lead over the Cardinals and rookie starter Andre Pallante. Trevor Story got Boston on the board first in the bottom half of the second inning.
With two outs and the bases empty, Story crushed his 10th home run of the season and first since May 26 on a 3-1, 95 mph heater down the heart of the plate from Pallante. The ball left his bat at 104.4 mph and traveled 397 feet to right field.
Three innings later, Alex Verdugo led off the bottom of the fifth with a groundball single to center field. A wild pitch allowed Verdugo to move up to second base, and Jackie Bradley Jr. proceeded to drive him in on a two-out RBI single through the right side of the infield.
Bradley Jr., who is now batting .313/.353/.479 in 31 games at Fenway Park this season, put the Red Sox up 2-1 with his 22nd RBI of the year.
Shortly after Pivetta recorded the final out in the top of the seventh, Christian Vazquez led off the bottom half of the frame with a line-drive double before advancing to third on a Bradley Jr. groundout. Rob Refsnyder then plated Vazquez on a run-scoring base hit off Genesis Cabrera that made it a 3-1 game in favor of Boston.
In relief of Pivetta, John Schreiber struck out the only three batters he faced in a perfect eighth inning. In the latter half of the frame, Vazquez struck again after Verdugo and Story both reached base with one out.
On a 2-1, 94.3 mph sinker from Drew VerHagen that was down in and, Vazquez clobbered a three-run home run 407 feet over the Green Monster to give the Red Sox a commanding 6-1 advantage.
Vazquez’s third big fly of the season would prove to be important given the trouble Tyler Danish ran into in the ninth. Danish allowed two runners to reach base while recording the first two outs of the inning. Rather than slam the door on the Cardinals, though, the righty served up a 114.4 mph, three-run blast to Juan Yepez that cut Boston’s lead down to two runs at 6-4.
Not taking any chances, Red Sox manager Alex Cora gave Danish the hook in favor of Tanner Houck, who gave up a single but rebounded by fanning Brendan Donovan on eight pitches to pick up his fourth save of the season in as many opportunities.
Next up: The Tigers come to town
The Red Sox will kick off the final leg of their homestand by welcoming the 26-40 Tigers into town for a three-game set. Monday’s series opener will feature a pair of rookie right-handers going at it as Josh Winckowski will start for Boston and Alex Faedo will do the same for Detroit.
First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Sarah Stier/Getty Images)