The Red Sox salvaged a series split and a winning road trip with a hard-fought win over the Braves on Wednesday night. Boston defeated Atlanta by a final score of 5-2 at Truist Park to put an end to a two-game losing streak and improve to 22-16 on the season.
Having just placed Max Fried on the injured list with a left forearm strain, the Braves went with a bullpen game in Wednesday’s series finale. Atlanta relievers held Boston’s offense in check through three innings, but the Sox broke through against Collin McHugh in the fourth.
After Alex Verdugo walked and Justin Turner singled to simultaneously break up the Braves’ combined no-hit bid and lead off the inning, Enrique Hernandez and Jarren Duran went back-to-back on a pair of one-out RBI singles to give the Red Sox a 2-0 lead.
Brayan Bello, meanwhile, was in the midst of his fifth start of the season for Boston. The young right-hander was lights out out of the gate. He retired the first six batters he faced, escaped a jam (two on, no outs) in the third, and continued to keep Atlanta off the scoreboard through five.
In the sixth inning, though, Bello ran into trouble as the Braves lineup turned over for a third time. Ronald Acuna Jr. led things off by crushing a 470-foot solo shot to deep left field to cut the deficit in half. Austin Riley then ripped a one-out single and came into score the tying run on Eddie Rosario’s RBI single. Rosario, however, was thrown out at second base by Connor Wong for the final out of the inning.
All told, Bello allowed two earned runs on six hits and one walk to go along with five strikeouts over six strong innings of work. The 23-year-old induced 18 swings-and-misses on exactly 100 pitches (67 strikes). He topped out at 97.4 mph with his sinker and picked up his second win of the season while lowering his ERA to 5.01.
Although they had just seen their two-run lead disappear, the Red Sox wasted little time in getting back on the board. Duran and Triston Casas each drew a walk off A.J. Minter to lead off the seventh. After Wong and the pinch-hitting Rafael Devers each struck out, manager Alex Cora went back to his bench by having Raimel Tapia pinch-hit for Rob Refsnyder. Tapia then came through by lacing a two-out double down the right field line to bring in Duran from second and put Boston up, 3-2.
With Bello’s night done, Josh Winckowski received the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen from Cora and worked a 1-2-3 seventh. Chris Martin followed by maneuvering his way around a one-out single to toss a scoreless eighth and pave the way for Kenley Jansen in the ninth.
Before Jansen took the mound, Casas provided the veteran closer with some breathing room in the top of the ninth. After Duran laced a leadoff double, Casas launched a 442-foot two-run blast off Raisel Iglesias for his fifth home run of the year.
Jansen then came on with a three-run lead to protect and did just that by getting Sean Murphy to fly out, allowing a one-out double to Rosario, getting Ozzie Albies to fly out, and striking out Travis d’Arnaud to end the game and notch the 400th save of his career.
Jansen becomes the seventh pitcher in major-league history to record 400 saves, joining Mariano Rivera (652), Trevor Hoffman (601), Lee Smith (478), Francisco Rodriguez (437), John Franco (424) and Billy Wagner (422) as members of the exclusive club.
Next up: Wainwright vs. Paxton
Coming off a 3-2 road trip, the Red Sox will enjoy an off day back in Boston on Thursday. They will then open a three-game weekend series against the Cardinals at Fenway Park on Friday night.
Left-hander James Paxton is slated to make his season debut for Boston in Friday’s series opener. St. Louis will counter with right-hander Adam Wainwright.
First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Kenley Jansen: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)