Kiké Hernández, Xander Bogaerts both homer as Red Sox top Mets, 6-3, for sixth straight win

Exactly two weeks out from the American League Wild Card game, the Red Sox continued their winning ways against the Mets to kick off their final homestand of the regular season.

Although they fell behind first, Boston fought their way back for a 6-3 victory over New York at Fenway Park on Tuesday night, marking their sixth straight win.

Eduardo Rodriguez, making his 29th start of the season for the Sox and his very first against the Mets, was sharp early on, but later fell off in what turned out to be another relatively short outing.

Over just 4 1/3 innings of work, Rodriguez allowed two runs — both of which were earned — on five hits and three walks to go along with five strikeouts on the night.

The veteran left-hander took a perfect game into the third inning, as he did not give up his first hit until yielding a two-out single to New York’s No. 9 hitter, Tomas Nido, in the top half of the frame.

While it appeared as though Rodriguez was well on his way to putting together a strong performance, things took a turn for the worse in the fourth when he loaded the bases with no outs before issuing a bases-loaded, run-scoring walk to J.D. Davis to give the Mets their first lead of the night at 1-0.

Michael Conforto followed by grounding another RBI single through the left side of the infield that scored Javier Baez and very well could have pushed across another had Enrique Hernandez not gunned down Pete Alonso at home plate from center field.

Hernandez’s seventh outfield assist of the season proved to halt the Mets’ momentum, as Rodriguez escaped the jam by recording the final two outs of the fourth in consecutive order.

At that point, the Red Sox lineup had struggled to get anything going against Rodriguez’s counterpart in Mets starter Marcus Stroman despite having their fair share of opportunities — particularly in the third inning.

There, with no outs and the bases full, Xander Bogaerts grounded into what was at the time a back-breaking 5-2-3 double play, which was followed by an inning-ending flyout off the bat of Rafael Devers.

Compounded with New York jumping out to a 2-0 lead in their half of the fourth, things were looking rather dire for the Boston bats, but they were able to bounce back in a tremendous way beginning in the bottom of that particular frame.

With two outs in the inning, Bobby Dalbec stayed hot by ripping a 104.5 mph line-drive double off the center field wall. Christian Vazquez followed by lacing another liner, though this one flew over the outstretched glove of a back-pedaling Kevin Pillar, took a bounce off the Green Monster, and brought in Dalbec to cut the deficit in half at 2-1.

Rodriguez, meanwhile, came back out for the fifth, though he gave up back-to-back hits to Brandon Nimmo and Francisco Lindor that put runners at second and third with only one out.

That led to Red Sox manager Alex Cora giving Rodriguez the hook at that moment, as the 28-year-old ended his day having thrown 92 pitches (55 strikes).

In relief of Rodriguez, Cora first turned to the recently-recalled Ryan Brasier, who inherited a bit of a mess but got out of it by fanning Baez on three straight strikes before getting the dangerous Alonso to ground out to short.

With their lineup flipping over for a third time beginning in the middle of the fifth, the Sox continued to pound Stroman, as Hernandez clubbed a game-tying, 379-foot solo shot over the Green Monster (his 18th home run of the season, Kyle Schwarber drilled a hard-hit double to the left-center field gap, and Bogaerts capped it off with an act of redemption — mashing a 426-foot, two-run moonshot to left field.

Bogaerts’ 23rd homer of the year put the Sox up 4-2, but the star shortstop was not done there, as he — with the bases full and two outs in the sixth — plated two more on a 107 mph two-run double off Brad Hand to make it a 6-2 game in favor of Boston.

From there, after Brasier and left-hander Austin Davis combined to work a scoreless sixth inning, fellow trade deadline acquisition Hansel Robles took over and did the very same in the seventh.

Garrett Richards, on the other hand, served up a towering solo homer to Alonso in an otherwise clean eighth inning. He also got the first out of the ninth before Darwinzon Hernandez slammed the door on the Mets to preserve the 6-3 victory for the Sox, though the lefty did not pick up the save.

With the win, not only do the Red Sox extend their winning streak to six consecutive games, but they also improve to 87-65 on the season by doing so. The Blue Jays and Yankees also won on Tuesday, so the Sox maintain their 1 1/2 game lead over Toronto for the top Wild Card spot in the American League.

Next up: Sale vs. Walker

The Red Sox will hand the ball to ace left-hander Chris Sale as they go for the quick two-game sweep over the Mets on Wednesday night. Sale will be working on regular rest in just his second start back from the COVID-19 related injured list.

The Mets, in turn, will counter with right-hander and 2021 All-Star Taijuan Walker as they look to prevent the sweep from happening.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and ESPN.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Red Sox activate Christian Arroyo from COVID-19 related injured list, return Jack López to Triple-A Worcester

In addition to placing Garrett Whitlock on the 10-day injured list due to a right pectoral strain and recalling Ryan Brasier from Triple-A Worcester, the Red Sox also activated infielder Christian Arroyo from the COVID-19 related injured list.

In a corresponding move, fellow infielder Jack Lopez was returned to Worcester, the club announced shortly before Tuesday’s series opener against the Mets at Fenway Park.

Arroyo returns from the COVID-19 related injured list after spending nearly a month there following a lengthy bout with the virus.

The 26-year-old was originally identified as a close contact of Enrique Hernandez when the Sox’ outbreak began in Cleveland on August 27. He tested positive for COVID just two days later and was forced to quarantine at the team’s hotel.

After getting hit hard by virus-related symptoms, Arroyo was cleared to return to action last week, as he was sent out on a rehab assignment with Worcester this past Thursday.

Appearing in three games with the WooSox during their series in Syracuse over the weekend, the right-handed hitting second baseman went 1-for-11 with a single, a run scored, and four strikeouts while playing a total of 21 defensive innings at second base.

It’s been a tough go-around for Arroyo in his first full season in Boston, with the 6-foot-1, 210 pound hitter being limited to just 53 games so far this year on account of three separate stints on the injured list (due to a left hand contusion, right knee contusion, and left hamstring strain) and one stint on the COVID-related IL.

Still, Arroyo has been productive when healthy, as he comes into play Tuesday sporting a .264/.324/.453 slash line to go along with six home runs, 25 RBI, and 22 runs scored over 175 trips to the plate.

While Arroyo will start Tuesday’s contest against the Mets on the bench, the Red Sox will need the Florida native to contribute to their Wild Card push since Jose Iglesias — who has mainly been playing second base in Arroyo’s place — is ineligible for the postseason since he was signed after September 1.

Lopez, meanwhile, returns to Worcester for a second time after he most-recently had his contract selected when Danny Santana was placed on the COVID IL on September 11.

Across two separate stints with the Sox in the month of September, the 28-year-old journeyman has slashed just .154/.214/.308 with a pair of doubles, a run, and one walk over seven games (16 plate appearances), though he has provided sound defense in limited action at second base.

(Picture of Christian Arroyo: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

J.D. Martinez starting in left field for Red Sox in Tuesday’s series opener against Mets

The Red Sox will send Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound as they look to extend their winning streak to six straight games in Tuesday’s series opener against the Mets at Fenway Park.

Tuesday night will mark Rodriguez’s first career start against the Mets, as the left-hander carries with him a lifetime 3.60 ERA and .669 OPS against across 19 outings (110 innings pitched) in interleague play.

On the 2021 campaign as a whole, Rodriguez’s numbers may still not look all that encouraging, but the 28-year-old has — for the most part — pitched better as of late, posting a solid 3.59 ERA and 3.46 FIP with 44 strikeouts to 12 walks over his last eight starts (42 2/3 innings of work) dating back to August 4.

Opposing Rodriguez will be fellow free-agent-to-be Marcus Stroman, who is slated to make his 32nd start of the year for the Mets.

Stroman, who turned 30 in May, is in the midst of a superb campaign for New York, as the right-hander comes into play Tuesday having put up a 2.88 ERA, a 3.27 FIP, and 151:40 strikeout-to-walk ratio through his first 31 appearances and 169 innings pitched of the season.

Given how he spent the first 5 1/2 years of his major-league career with the Blue Jays, Stroman has quite a bit of history against the Red Sox. In addition to sporting a lifetime 2.97 ERA in five career starts at Fenway Park, the righty has squared off against a number of Sox hitters on more than just one occasion.

Xander Bogaerts, for instance, is 11-for-36 (.306) with two career home runs off Stroman. Christian Vazquez, on the other hand, is 7-for-19 (.368) with a double off him.

Both Bogaerts and Vazquez will be in Red Sox manager Alex Cora’s starting lineup to begin things on Tuesday. J.D. Martinez will start in left field, while Hunter Renfroe will start on the bench. Here is how the rest of the team will be lining up behind Rodriguez.

With 11 games remaining on the docket, Boston (86-65) currently owns a 1 1/2 game lead over the Blue Jays for the top American League Wild Card spot.

Taking that point into consideration, first pitch Tuesday night is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox place Garrett Whitlock on 10-day injured list, recall Ryan Brasier from Triple-A Worcester

The Red Sox have officially placed right-hander Garrett Whitlock on the 10-day injured list with a right pectoral strain. In a corresponding move, fellow reliever Ryan Brasier was recalled from Triple-A Worcester, the club announced earlier Tuesday evening.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) before Tuesday’s series opener against the Mets at Fenway Park that this transaction would be taking place, and it is now offical.

Whitlock initially sustained his pectoral injury in the seventh inning of this past Sunday’s 8-6 comeback victory over the Orioles. After tossing a scoreless frame in the sixth in relief of Nathan Eovaldi, the 25-year-old issued a leadoff walk to Cedric Mullins to begin things in the seventh.

As noted by Cotillo, third baseman Rafael Devers “noticed something was amiss with Whitlock” and motioned to Cora, who visited the mound with a team trainer before eventually removing Whitlock from the game.

After the Red Sox had Monday off, the belief is that Whitlock’s injury is not serious and the righty will only have to miss the minimum 10 days while on the injured list — which means he could be activated as soon as next Friday since his stint on the IL was backdated to September 20.

Originally selected from the Yankees in the major-league phase of last December’s Rule 5 Draft, Whitlock has been absolutely sensational in his rookie season with the Sox.

Across 45 appearances, the 6-foot-5, 225 pound hurler has posted a 1.99 ERA and 2.88 FIP to go along with 79 strikeouts to just 17 walks over 72 1/3 innings of work so far this year.

Brasier, meanwhile, returns to the Red Sox after being optioned to Worcester on Friday.

The 34-year-old initially missed the first five months of the 2021 campaign due to a multitude of injuries — including a left calf strain and concussion — before being activated from the 60-day injured list when rosters expanded from 26 to 28 players at the beginning of September.

While there was much optimism surrounding Brasier’s return to the mound, the veteran right-hander struggled in his first exposure to major-league hitters in nearly a full year, as he allowed a total of five runs (two earned) on nine hits, two walks, and one strikeout over five outings spanning 4 1/3 innings pitched from September 3 through September 13.

Over the weekend, the Sox opted to send Brasier back down to Worcester when both Chris Sale and Matt Barnes were ready to be activated from the COVID-19 related injured list.

Brasier, however, did not appear in a game during his second stint of the season with the WooSox, so he should be well-rested ahead of Boston’s upcoming interleague series against the Mets.

(Picture of Garrett Whitlock: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox break out for 6 runs in 10th inning to run away with 9-4 victory over Mariners in extras

It took nearly four hours to see it through, but the Red Sox were able to cap off their road trip in style with a hard-fought victory over the Mariners in extra innings on Wednesday (Roberto Clemente Day) afternoon.

Boston broke out for six runs in the 10th inning to top Seattle by a final score of 9-4, marking their second straight win and their third in their last five games.

Matched up against Mariners starter Marco Gonzales to begin things on Wednesday, the Sox struck early and often to jump out to an early 3-0 lead.

Right out of the gate, Hunter Renfroe crushed a 414-foot solo shot — his 28th home run of the season — off Gonzales in the top half of the first inning. In the second, Kyle Schwarber drew a one-out walk and Bobby Dalbec followed by drilling a ground-rule double to left-center field, paving the way for Kevin Plawecki to drive in a run on an RBI groundout.

Having moved up to third on that play, Dalbec scored on an RBI double off the bat of a seemingly red-hot Jose Iglesias to put Boston up by three.

To that point, Tanner Houck — making his 12th start of the year — had been cruising along for the Red Sox, taking a no-hitter into the third inning before giving up a one-out single to fellow rookie Jarred Kelenic.

Houck proceeded to yield another single to Tom Murphy that should have put runners at the corners, but instead scored a run and put a runner at second base when Hunter Renfroe attempted to gun down Kelenic at third, though his throw eluded Rafael Devers and wound up going out of play.

Kelenic was able to score as a result of Renfroe’s miscue, while Houck walked J.P. Crawford on four pitches, spiked a wild pitch into the dirt that put runners at second and third. The right-hander did get the second out of the third, but could not end it before serving up a two-run double down the left field line to Kyle Seager.

The momentum had shifted going into the fourth with the Mariners battling back to knot things up at three runs apiece. Houck, however, rebounded by punching out the side in the bottom half of the fourth before falling victim to Kelenic once again in the fifth.

The Mariners outfielder led off the fifth inning with a single back up the middle and proceeded to steal second base to put the potential go-ahead run in scoring position. Houck then fanned Tom Murphy for the first out of the frame, and that is when his day came to a close with the Seattle lineup turning back over.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 71 (45 strikes), the 25-year-old wrapped up his outing having allowed three runs — all earned — on four hits, one walk, and seven strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings of work.

Josh Taylor got the first call out of the bullpen from Red Sox manager Alex Cora, and the left-hander officially closed the book on Houck’s start by stranding the lone runner he inherited while recording the last two outs of the fifth.

Garrett Richards took over for Taylor in the sixth and worked his way around a leadoff single by inducing a 6-5-3 double play and getting a strikeout. The veteran righty was nearly rewarded for his effort a half inning later when a walk from Dalbec and two-out single from Iglesias put runners at the corners.

Alex Verdugo came off the bench to pinch-hit for Enrique Hernandez in that spot against right-handed Mariners reliever Paul Sewald and proceeded to lace a 102 mph line drive to left field.

Verdugo’s screamer, which had an expected batting average of .850, was caught by M’s left fielder Luke Fraley, however, and that kept things tied up at 3-3.

Richards, again, faced the minimum three batters in the seventh with the help of a smooth, inning-ending double play started by Iglesias.

After both Devers and J.D. Martinez reached base with two outs off Sewald in the eighth, Schwarber had an opportunity to replicate his late-game heroics from the night before, but flew out to center field to strand the pair of runners.

In the bottom half of the inning, Austin Davis got the first two outs despite Mitch Haniger reaching base on a throwing error committed by Devers, but Adam Ottavino was able work around that by fanning Ty France on three straight strikes.

With former Rays reliever Diego Castillo entering this game for the Mariners in the ninth, neither Dalbec, Christian Vazquez (pinch-hitting for Plawecki), nor Travis Shaw (pinch-hitting for Iglesias) mounted anything resembling a rally, as they were sat down in order.

Ottavino, having needed just three pitches to finish off the eighth, came back out for the ninth. He got the first two outs of the inning rather easily before plunking the pinch-hitting Jake Bauers in the leg. Bauers then stole second base while Kelenic was at the plate, but Ottavino left him there by fanning the top prospect to send this one to extras.

Before Ottavino came through when it mattered most, Jack Lopez had taken over for Shaw at second base. And since Shaw recorded the final out of the ninth, that meant Lopez started the 10th inning as the runner at second base.

With Erik Swanson now on the mound for Seattle, Boston got an immediate boost when Verdugo sliced a single to shallow left field. Lopez, who advanced up to third on Verdugo’s base hit, proceeded to score from there on a passed ball — giving the Red Sox their first lead since the second inning at 4-3.

A walk drawn by Renfroe and bloop single from Bogaerts filled the bases with one out for Martinez, who greeted new Mariners reliever Justus Sheffield by ripping a 107 mph RBI single to the left side of the infield that deflected off Crawford’s glove and brought in Renfroe from third.

That made it a 5-3 contest, but the Sox were not done there, as Schwarber provided some much-needed insurance by lining a two-run single to right field that plated both Bogaerts and Devers and opened up a 7-3 lead for his side.

Vazquez pushed across two more on a two-run, bases-loaded double down the right field line, thus capping off a six-run inning in which Boston sent 10 batters to the plate to give themselves a commanding 9-3 advantage.

Martin Perez was dispatched in the bottom half of the 10th. The left-hander, making his first appearance since being activated from the COVID-19 related injured list on Tuesday, did just that.

Perez did allow one unearned run, but ultimately slammed the door on the Mariners to preserve a 9-4 victory for the Sox.

With the win, the Red Sox secure their first series victory in Seattle since 2013 to finish off a 3-3 road trip and improve to 83-65 on the season. They also remain tied with the Blue Jays for the top American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Welcoming in the Orioles to kick off the final homestand of 2021

The Red Sox will board a flight to Boston and enjoy a well-deserved off day on Thursday before opening up a three-game weekend series against the lowly Orioles at Fenway Park on Friday night.

Neither team has yet to name a starter for Friday’s series opener, but Boston is expected to activate ace left-hander Chris Sale from the COVID-19 related injured list — meaning that responsibility would fall to him.

Friday’s contest against the O’s will mark the beginning of the Sox’ final (eight-game) homestand of the season. First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Kyle Schwarber: Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Kyle Schwarber bounces back with clutch 3-run double off bench as Red Sox top Mariners, 8-4

There was a point in time where it looked like a key defensive miscue would once again cost the Red Sox dearly in their matchup against the Mariners at T-Mobile Park on Tuesday, but they were able to overcome their mistakes this time around.

In what was a close contest for most of the night, Boston used a five-run eighth inning to best Seattle, 8-4, and put an end to their two-game losing streak.

Nathan Eovaldi, making his 29th start of the season for the Sox, put together yet another solid outing, as he has consistently been doing over the past month-plus.

Over five innings of work, Eovaldi surrendered just two runs — only one of which was earned — on five hits and one walk to go along with nine strikeouts on the night.

After issuing a leadoff single to J.P. Crawford to begin things in the first, the veteran right-hander proceeded to settle into a nice groove, retiring the next nine batters he faced in order going into the top of the fourth.

Things were still scoreless at that point in time, but Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez quickly changed that by clubbing a 414-foot solo shot off Mariners starter Tyler Anderson to give his side an early 1-0 lead on his 28th home run of the season.

That one-run lead did not last long, however, as the M’s answered with two runs of their own in their half of the fourth, though Eovaldi certainly cannot be dealt all the blame.

Following a softly-hit single from Mitch Haniger and an infield single from Kyle Seager, Ty France blooped a 228-foot RBI single to shallow center field that landed in front of Enrique Hernandez and brought in Haniger to tie things up at one run apiece.

Eovaldi then get Abraham Toro to lift a 358-foot fly ball to right field that should have gone for the second out of the inning, but was instead misplayed by Hunter Renfroe when the right fielder quite simply dropped the ball.

Seattle was able to load the bases on Renfroe’s 11th later of the year, and they took advantage of that by jumping out to a 2-1 lead on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Jake Fraley.

Still, all things considered, Eovaldi did manage to escape the fourth without giving anything else up, and he ended his day by getting out of another jam in what would turn out to be a scoreless fifth inning as well.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 95 (66 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler did not factor into Tuesday’s decision, though he did lower his ERA on the season down to 3.52.

As soon as Eovaldi’s evening had officially ended, the Red Sox made sure to het the All-Star off the hook, as Seattle-area native Bobby Dalbec greeted new Mariners reliever Anthony Misiewicz by crushing a game-tying, 367-foot solo homer off him with two outs in the sixth.

Dalbec’s 22nd big fly of the season made it a 2-2 game entering the later stages, and while Darwinzon Hernandez (1 2/3 scoreless innings) and Adam Ottavino (1/3 scoreless innings) proved effective out of the Boston bullpen, the bats broke this one open in the eighth.

Following a hard-hit leadoff triple from Xander Bogaerts that prompted the Mariners to turn to Drew Steckenrider out of their bullpen, Rafael Devers drew a hard-fought eight-pitch walk, Martinez advanced Devers into scoring position on a groundout, and then it was in the hands of the bench.

Even after Dalbec homered in his previous at-bat, Red Sox manager Alex Cora opted to have the left-handed hitting Travis Shaw pinch-hit for him, and that move paid off since Shaw loaded the bases on a walk of his own.

Next up was Kyle Schwarber, pinch-hitting for Kevin Plawecki, and coming off one his more forgettable performances in his brief Red Sox career on Monday.

With redemption on his mind, Schwarber promptly unloaded the bases by drilling a 108 mph three-run double to the right-center field gap, allowing all three of Bogaerts, Devers, and Shaw to score to give the Sox their largest lead of the night at 5-2.

Schwarber’s heroics would not mark the end of the line for the Boston rally, though, as Alex Verdugo followed by mashing a two-run home run 348 feet over the left field fence to cap off a five-run inning and put his side ahead 7-2.

From there, Michael Feliz maneuvered his way around a leadoff walk in an otherwise clean bottom of the eighth and Martinez provided some much-needed insurance by ripping an RBI single off former teammate Matt Andriese in the top of the ninth.

Now working with an 8-2 lead, Hirokazu Sawamura was only able to record the first out of the bottom of the ninth while also loading the bases.

Austin Davis, meanwhile, took over for Sawamura, allowed two of the three base runners he inherited to score on a sacrifice fly and base hit, but ultimately closed things out to preserve an 8-4 victory for the Sox.

With the win, not only do the Red Sox snap a two-game skid to improve to 82-65 on the season, but they also move into a virtual three-way tie with the Yankees and Blue Jays for the top American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Houck vs. Gonzales

Right-hander Tanner Houck will get the ball for the Red Sox on Wednesday afternoon as they look to secure a series victory over the Mariners, who will counter with left-hander Marco Gonzales.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

Kyle Schwarber, Hunter Renfroe commit 2 costly errors as Red Sox fall to Mariners, 5-4

If the Red Sox were looking to make a statement in regards to how they should be viewed as a Wild Card contender on Monday, they certainly came up short of doing that against a team hot on their trail in the Mariners.

Boston fell to Seattle, 5-4, in the opening contest of a three-game series at T-Mobile Park, marking their sixth loss in their last eight games.

Eduardo Rodriguez, making his 28th start of the season for the Sox, bounced back from a rough outing in his last time out against the Rays by surrendering just two runs — only one of which was earned — on six hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts on the night.

That said, Rodriguez on Monday did not get off to the best starts, as he gave up a double and single to the first two batters he faced (J.P. Crawford and Mitch Haniger) before allowing the Mariners to take an early 1-0 lead on a run-scoring double play from Ty France in the first inning.

The left-hander had to battle his way through the bottom of the second as well, with Abraham Toro drawing a leadoff walk off him and Luis Torrens ripping a hard-hit single to right field as well as advancing up to second base when Hunter Renfroe booted the ball.

Tom Murphy then doubled his side’s advantage with an RBI groundout, but Rodriguez was ultimately able to settle in — and he did so while getting some help from the Red Sox lineup.

Mariners starter Logan Gilbert had nearly got through Boston’s batting order for the first time without giving up a hit before No. 9 hitter Jose Iglesias altered those plans.

With one out and the bases empty in the top half of the third, Iglesias clubbed a 386-foot solo shot off Gilbert for his ninth home run of the season and his first in a Red Sox uniform in more than eight years.

Fast forward to the fifth, after Alex Verdugo and Christian Vazquez each laced a pair of singles to put runners at the corners with one out, Iglesias came through once more, this time by plating Verdugo on a blooper of an RBI single that knotted things up at two runs apiece.

While Iglesias and Co. were grinding away at the plate, Rodriguez was dealing on the mound, as he ended his day by retiring 12 of the final 16 batters he faced following a 32-pitch second inning.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 107 (74 strikes), his second-highest pitch total of the year, the 28-year-old hurler did not factor into the decision on Monday, though he did lower his ERA on the season to 5.00.

In relief of Rodriguez, right-hander Ryan Brasier got the first call from Red Sox manager Alex Cora out of the Boston bullpen, and it appeared he was well on his way to a 1-2-3 seventh inning.

After needing all of five pitches to record the first two outs of the seventh, Brasier induced a relatively-weak grounder off the bat of the pinch-hitting Jake Bauers that was hit in the direction of Kyle Schwarber at first base.

Schwarber, however, misplayed the ball and was charged with a fielding error, thus allowing Bauers to reach first base safely.

The Mariners made the Sox pay dearly for yet another defensive miscue, as Crawford singled to put runners at first and second before Haniger drilled a go-ahead three-run homer 363 feet to left field. Austin Davis had to get the last out of the seventh after his side had suddenly found themselves in a 5-2 hole.

Despite the three-run deficit, the Boston bats did not go away in the eighth, with both Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers crushed a pair of back-to-back solo shots off Seattle reliever off Paul Sewald to make it a 5-4 game.

After Kaleb Ort (making his major-league debut) and Josh Taylor combined to toss a scoreless eighth inning, though, Mariners closer Drew Steckenrider slammed the door shut on the Red Sox in the ninth.

Verdugo fanned on a foul tip into the catcher’s mitt, Renfroe was called out on strikes, and Vazquez flew out to center field for the third and final out, as 2-1 would go on to be Monday’s final score in favor of the Mariners.

With the loss, the Red Sox fall to 81-65 on the season while also relinquishing the top American League Wild Card spot to the red-hot Blue Jays and moving into a virtual tie with the Yankees for the second and final spot.

Next up: Eovaldi vs. Anderson

The Red Sox will turn to right-hander Nathan Eovaldi on Tuesday as they look to put an end to this two-game skid. The Mariners will counter with left-hander Tyler Anderson.

First pitch Tuesday night is scheduled for 10:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Ryan Brasier: Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Nick Pivetta impresses in first start back from bout with COVID-19, but Red Sox drop series finale to White Sox, 2-1, as Garrett Whitlock gives up walk-off home run

Nick Pivetta dazzled in his return to the mound on Sunday, but it was not enough to lift the Red Sox to a series-clinching victory over the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Boston was limited to just four hits and were walked off on by Chicago, 2-1, marking the third straight one-run game between the two clubs and the Sox’ fifth loss in their last seven games.

Pivetta, making his first start since August 30 after being activated from the COVID-19 related injured list on Sunday, appeared to take advantage of the time he had off by putting together his best outing in more than two months.

Over 5 1/3 strong innings of work, the right-hander allowed just one unearned run on three hits and zero walks to go along with five strikeouts on the afternoon.

While he did deal with some traffic on the base paths early on, Pivetta did at one point retire 11 straight batters leading into the middle of the sixth of what was still a scoreless contest.

Chicago’s No. 8 hitter, Cesar Hernandez, led off the inning by reaching base on an Enrique Hernandez throwing error and promptly advanced into scoring position on a successful sacrifice bunt from Seby Zavala.

Luis Robert did not waste any time in scoring Hernandez from third, as the White Sox leadoff man ripped an RBI single to left field to push across the first run of the day.

That sequence marked the end of the line for Pivetta, who got the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora. The 28-year-old hurler finished his outing having thrown 79 pitches (59 strikes) while lowering his ERA on the season to 4.49.

In relief of Pivetta, Adam Ottavino got the first call out of the Boston bullpen, and despite intentionally walking Jose Abreu, he escaped the sixth while stranding the lone runner he inherited.

From there, Darwinzon Hernandez maneuvered his way around a leadoff walk in a scoreless seventh inning before Hansel Robles also walked one in an otherwise clean bottom of the eighth.

To that point, the Red Sox lineup had been held entirety in check by Chicago’s pitching staff, though they did have their opportunities.

After White Sox starter held the Sox to just two singles over five nearly-perfect innings on the hill, Jose Iglesias — who had one of those hits — led off the top of the sixth by drilling a leadoff single off lefty reliever Garrett Crochet.

Representing the potential go-ahead run in an 0-0 game, Iglesias attempted to move up to second when Hernandez lifted a 390-foot fly ball to deep center field, but was instead gunned down at second base by Robert for an 8-4 double play.

The White Sox quickly made the Red Sox pay for that base running blunder with Robert’s go-ahead single off Pivetta, while the Boston bats were unable to get anything else going against Crochet or Jose Ruiz, who recorded the final out of the seventh before tossing a 1-2-3 top of the eighth as well.

Down to their final three outs in the ninth, the Red Sox were matched up against a familiar opponent in former closer Kimbrel, on for the third time in three days going back to Friday night.

Hernandez got the ninth inning started with a bang by lacing a 105.4 mph leadoff double off Kimbrel, and while Kyle Schwarber struck out, both Hunter Renfroe and Rafael Devers drew a pair of walks to load the bases for Alex Verdugo.

Verdugo, as he has done throughout the season, plated Hernandez on a sacrifice fly to left field to bring in the tying run, but Bobby Dalbec punched out on four pitches to get Kimbrel off the hook in what had become a 1-1 game.

Looking to send this one into extras for a second straight day, Garrett Whitlock quickly got the first two outs of the bottom of the ninth by fanning both Eloy Jimenez and Yasmani Grandal.

Whitlock proceeded to get ahead in the count against the next batter he faced in Leury Garcia and was just one more strike away from punching out the side.

On an 0-2, 97.7 mph fastball down the heart of the plate, however, Whitlock served up a 430-foot walk-off home run to Garcia to give the White Sox a 2-1 win while also being hit with his fourth loss of the year.

With the 2-1 defeat, the Red Sox fall to 81-64 on the season and move into a virtual tie with the Blue Jaus for the top American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: On to Seattle

The Red Sox will board a flight from Chicago to Seattle and open up a pivotal three-game series against the Mariners — who are also in the thick of the American League Wild Card race — at T-Mobile Park on Monday night.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez is slated to get the ball for Boston in the series opener, while rookie right-hander Logan Gilbert is in line to do the same for Seattle.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 10:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

J.D. Martinez remains out of Red Sox lineup due to back tightness; Xander Bogaerts gets day off in series finale against White Sox

The Red Sox will once again be without J.D. Martinez as they go for a series win over the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on Sunday afternoon.

Martinez, who has been dealing with back tightness throughout the weekend, had been scratched from Boston’s lineup each of the last two days before the same thing essentially happened on Sunday.

As was the case on Friday and Saturday, the veteran slugger went through batting practice earlier Sunday morning before being ruled out for the rubber match of this three-game weekend set.

Following Saturday night’s thrilling 9-8 win over the White Sox, Red Sox manager Alex Cora expressed optimism that Martinez would be back at full strength ahead of Monday’s series opener against the Mariners in Seattle, telling reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) that he rather lose the 34-year-old for three days as opposed to a whole week.

With Martinez out of the lineup, Travis Shaw — the hero of Saturday’s comeback win — will get the start at designated hitter while batting out of the seven-hole.

In addition to being without Martinez, the Sox will also be without shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who will be getting his first day off since returning from the COVID-19 related injured list on Friday.

Veteran infielder Jose Iglesias will start at shortstop in Bogaerts’ place batting ninth behind catcher Kevin Plawecki.

Here is how the rest of the Red Sox will be lining up behind right-hander Nick Pivetta, who was just activated from the COVID-19 related injured list, as they go up against White Sox righty Lance Lynn to close out the weekend.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and TBS.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Ron Vesely/Getty Images)

Red Sox activate Nick Pivetta from COVID-19 related injured list, option Connor Seabold to Triple-A Worcester

Before wrapping up a three-game weekend series against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on Sunday, the Red Sox activated right-hander Nick Pivetta from the COVID-19 related injured list.

In a corresponding move, fellow righty Connor Seabold was optioned to Triple-A Worcester, the club announced earlier Sunday afternoon.

Pivetta will get the start in Sunday’s series finale against the White Sox (first pitch is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. eastern time), as he had been held out of action since last week after testing positive for COVID-19 and being placed on the COVID-related injured list as a result.

Despite the positive test, the 28-year-old is vaccinated against the virus, meaning he did not have to quarantine for the typical 10 days so long as he did not exhibit any symptoms, which turns out to be the case.

Ace left-hander Chris Sale was originally slated to go up against his former team on Sunday, but was scratched from that outing earlier this weekend on account of testing positive for COVID-19 himself.

The Red Sox, in turn, will roll with Pivetta, who will be working on 11 days rest since making his last start against the Rays on August 30.

Through 26 starts in his first full season with Boston, the Canadian-born righty has posted a 4.67 ERA and 4.44 FIP to go along with 151 strikeouts to 62 walks over 135 total innings of work. Sunday will mark his first-ever outing at Guaranteed Rate Field.

With Pivetta getting activated, the Sox optioned Seabold back down to Worcester just hours after he made his major-league debut on Saturday night.

The 25-year-old hurler allowed two earned runs on three hits, two walks, and zero strikeouts in three innings pitched. 43 of the 27 pitches Seabold threw went for strikes, and he also averaged 90.5 mph with his four-seam fastball.

In regards to what the immediate future holds for Seabold, Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) that the righty is “going to go back to Worcester and he’s going to start down there.”

Seabold, who turns 26 in January, is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 12 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking sixth among pitchers in the organization.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)