Red Sox get shut out for second time this month in 9-0 loss to Royals

The Red Sox failed to score a run in their loss to the Royals on Saturday afternoon. Boston fell to Kansas City, 9-0, at Fenway Park to drop to 70-75 on the season.

Rich Hill, making his 23rd start of the year for the Sox, was tagged for nearly half of those runs. The veteran left-hander surrendered four earned runs on eight hits and zero walks to go along with four strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings of work.

The Royals got the scoring started in the top of the third. After reaching base on a one-out single, Nate Eaton stole second and scored from there on an RBI single off the bat of MJ Melendez. Malendez also advanced to second before scoring on another RBI single from Salvadar Perez that gave Kansas City an early 2-0 lead.

Boston had a chance to respond right away in the latter half of the frame. Matched up against Royals starter Brady Singer, the bottom third of the Sox lineup filled the bases without recording an out. Despite getting that far, though, Tommy Pham popped out to the catcher, Rafael Devers struck out looking, and J.D. Martinez popped out into foul territory.

Hill, meanwhile, ran into more trouble in the fifth. After Bobby Witt Jr. drove in Melendez with an RBI single, Witt Jr. scored all the way from first on a Vinnie Pasquantino double that right fielder Alex Verdugo lost in the sun.

Pasquantino was the final batter Hill faced. The 42-year-old southpaw finished with a final pitch count of 81 (58 strikes) and was charged with his seventh loss of the season as his ERA rose to 4.70. He was given the hook in favor of Ryan Brasier, who needed just three pitches to record the final out of the fifth.

The sixth inning marked the major-league debut of relief prospect Franklin German. The right-hander failed to retire any of the four batters he faced, as he loaded the bases with no outs before yielding an RBI single to Nate Eaton. Eduard Bazardo was called upon to extinguish the flames, but he allowed all three runners he inherited to score on a Melendez force out and singles from Witt Jr. and Pasquantino.

German was tagged for four runs on two hits and two walks. Bazardo, on the other hand, worked his way around a leadoff double in the seventh before handing things over to Tyler Danish, who served up a leadoff double to Melendez and a two-out RBI single to Pasquantino to make it a 9-0 game in favor of Kansas City.

Following a 1-2-3 top of the ninth from Danish, the Red Sox went down quietly in the bottom half to seal their fifth shutout loss of the season and their second in the last 10 days.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Bubic in rubber match

The Red Sox will look to secure a series victory over the Royals on Sunday afternoon. Righty Nick Pivetta will get the start for Boston opposite lefty Kris Bubic for Kansas City.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Alex Verdugo homers and Michael Wacha deals, but Red Sox blow late lead in 4-3 loss to Rays

The Red Sox saw their five-game winning streak come to an end at the hands of the Rays on Monday night. Boston fell to Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field by a final score of 4-3 to drop to 67-69 on the season.

Alex Verdugo got the Sox on the board right away in the first inning. With one out and the bases empty, Verdugo clubbed a 368-foot solo shot to right field off Rays starter Luis Patino for his ninth home run of the year. It left his bat at a blistering 106.5 mph.

Michael Wacha, making his 18th start of the year for Boston, gave that run right back in the latter half of the first. Former Red Sox prospect Manuel Margot led off with a line-drive single. He then went from first to third on a David Peralta base hit and scored on a blooper of an RBI single from Harold Ramirez to tie things up at one run apiece.

That stalemate did not last long, though, as the Red Sox responded with two more runs in the third. With two outs and runners on first and second after Tommy Pham and Verdugo each drew a walk, Rafael Devers and Trevor Story went back-to-back on a pair of run-scoring hits. Devers advanced to third base on Story’s 22nd double of the year, but was stranded there after Triston Casas popped out to end the inning.

Wacha, meanwhile, settled in and spun three consecutive scoreless frames before running into some trouble in the fifth. After reaching base on a leadoff single, Jose Siri scored all the way from first on a 358-foot double off the bat of Randy Arozarena.

Franchy Cordero had been tracking that fly ball in left field, but he went down awkwardly after colliding with and getting his right cleat caught in the wall’s padding. Cordero remained on the ground in visible pain before manager Alex Cora and team trainers came out to check on him. Unable to put any weight on his right foot, Cordero was carted off and replaced in left field by Rob Refsnyder. He was later diagnosed with a right ankle sprain and will undergo an MRI on Tuesday.

With Siri scoring on Arozarena’s double, Tampa Bay had cut the deficit down to one run at 3-2. But Wacha did not buckle and wound up retiring the final five batters he faced through the end of the sixth. The veteran right-hander gave up just the two runs on seven hits, zero walks, and seven strikeouts over six quality innings of work.

While Wacha did not factor into Monday’s decision, he did reach a personal milestone. By punching out Taylor Walls to end the sixth, the 31-year-old recorded the 1,000th strikeout of his major-league career.

In relief of Wacha, Jeurys Familia received the first call out of the Boston bullpen from Cora. With the likes of Garrett Whitlock and John Schreiber unavailable after a busy weekend, Familia struggled in a high-leverage spot in the seventh.

After a questionable hit-by-pitch of the pinch-hitting Vidal Brujan, who stole second base and moved up to third on a groundout, Familia surrendered a game-tying double to Margot. He was then pulled in favor of Zack Kelly, who got the second out of the inning but could not escape before allowing the go-ahead run to score on a Peralta RBI double down the right field line.

Kelly bounced back by tossing a 1-2-3 eighth inning, giving the Red Sox a chance to tie it in the ninth. With two outs and Verdugo at second base representing the tying run, Xander Bogaerts got ahead in the count at 2-0 before striking out looking on a 99 mph heater at the bottom of the zone.

Despite coming up short there, Bogaerts made history by going 2-for-5, thus extending his multi-game hitting streak to nine consecutive games. He becomes the fourth player in Red Sox history to accomplish the feat, joining the likes of Kevin Youkilis (2009), Jim Rice (1978), and Roy Johnson (1934).

All told, the Red Sox went 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base as a team. With Monday’s loss, they are now 4-10 against the Rays this season and 18-37 against divisional opponents.

Next up: Hill vs. Rasmussen

The Red Sox will look to bounce back against the Rays on Tuesday night. Veteran left-hander Rich Hill will get the start for Boston while right-hander Drew Rasmussen will do the same for Tampa Bay.

First pitch from Tropicana Field is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Kutter Crawford, Ryan Brasier combine to give up 7 runs as Red Sox fall to Twins, 10-5

The Red Sox dropped their second straight to the Twins on Tuesday night. Boston fell to Minnesota by a final score of 10-5 at Target Field despite having a 4-3 lead at one point.

Kutter Crawford, making his 12th start and 21st overall appearance of the season for the Sox, surrendered five runs — four of which were earned — on four hits and four walks to go along with five strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings of work.

Three of those runs came within the first two innings. Crawford retired the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the first before issuing a pair of two-out walks to Max Kepler and Jose Miranda. The rookie right-hander then gave up a two-run double to Nick Gordon that got the Twins on the board first.

An inning later, Jake Cave led off the bottom of the second by taking Crawford 400 feet deep to left-center field for just his third home run of the season. Crawford put together his first scoreless frame of the night in the third and did it again in the fourth.

The Red Sox lineup, meanwhile, finally broke through against Twins starter Chris Archer in their half of the fourth. An Alex Verdugo leadoff single and Xander Bogaerts double put runners at second and third with no outs for Rafael Devers. Devers drove in Verdugo with a sacrifice fly to make it a 3-1 game in favor of Minnesota. J.D. Martinez followed by drawing a six-pitch walk, but Trevor Story grounded into an inning-ending double play to extinguish the threat.

In the fifth, however, the Sox were able to mount a rally. With Enrique Hernandez and Reese McGuire on the corners following a pair of one-out singles, Tommy Pham trimmed Boston’s deficit to one with a run-scoring base hit through the right side of the infield. That knocked Archer out of the game in favor of Caleb Thielbar.

McGuire moved up to third base when Verdugo grounded into a force out at second. With runners at the corners yet again, Bogaerts greeted the new Twins reliever by blooping a 241-foot game-tying single to left field to push across McGuire and move Verdugo to third. Devers then drew a bases-filling walk, prompting another Minnesota pitching change.

Michael Fulmer was dispatched to face Martinez, but he first airmailed a wild pitch to the backstop that allowed Verdugo to score the go-ahead run on a feet-first slide. The Red Sox had a chance to add to their newfound 4-3 lead, but Martinez struck out against his former teammate to leave things there.

Crawford came back out for the fifth and got Luis Arraez to fly out to Pham for the first out of the inning. It appeared as though Crawford was going to get the second out when he got Carlos Correa to lift a 318-foot flyball to Verdugo in right field.

Verdugo failed to make a clean catch, though, as the ball deflected off his glove, allowing Correa to reach first base safely. Correa then issued another walk to Kepler, which is how his night would come to an end as Red Sox manager Alex Cora pulled the righty for Ryan Brasier.

Brasier, in turn, made a sticky situation even worse by plunking the first batter he faced in Jose Miranda to load the bases. Gordon, already in the midst of a productive evening at the plate, took full advantage of the spot he was in by unloading the bases with a 416-foot grand slam over everything in right field.

Gordon’s sixth homer of the season officially closed the book on Crawford, who finished with a final pitch count of 76 (43 strikes). The 26-year-old hurler managed to induce just seven swings-and-misses while raising his ERA on the season to 5.47 (7.58 ERA in August). He was also hit with his sixth losing decision of the year.

Brasier, on the other hand, was tagged for two runs after getting through the rest of the fifth inning unscathed. The recently-turned 35-year-old has now allowed 14 runs (13 earned) to cross the plate in 14 relief appearances (12 innings) this month. That is good for an ERA of 9.75.

Boston’s bullpen struggled continued into the sixth inning, as Jeurys Familia served up a solo shot to Gary Sanchez. The Red Sox got that run back in the top of the seventh, when Verdugo plated Pham all the way from first base on a 410-foot RBI double to right-center field that would have been a home run in 16 of 30 MLB ballparks.

Verdugo’s second hit of the contest brought the Sox back to within three runs of the Twins at 8-5. Bogaerts moved Verdugo up to third base on a groundout, but Devers stranded him there by striking out.

Following a 1-2-3 seventh inning from Zack Kelly in his second big-league appearance, a resurgent Matt Barnes ran into more trouble in the eighth by walking one and giving up three straight hits to Sanchez, Arraez, and Correa. Arreaz and Correa each drove in runs with their singles, which gave the Twins a commanding 10-5 lead going into the ninth.

Down to their final three outs, Hernandez led off with a walk, but McGuire, Pham, and Verdugo went down quietly against Emilio Pagan to seal another defeat.

With the loss, the seventh in their last nine games, the Red Sox drop to 62-68 on the season. The Blue Jays won on Tuesday, so Boston now sits nine games back of Toronto for the third and final American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Wacha vs. Ryan in series finale

The Red Sox will look to salvage something out of this series with the Twins on Wednesday night. Michael Wacha is slated to start for Boston. Fellow right-hander Joe Ryan is expected to do the same for Minnesota.

First pitch from Target Field is scheduled for 7:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Kutter Crawford: David Berding/Getty Images)

Brayan Bello runs out of gas in fifth inning as Red Sox drop opener to Twins, 4-2

The Red Sox opened a three-game series against the Twins on Monday by losing their second straight game. Boston fell to Minnesota by a final score of 4-2 at Target Field to drop to 62-67 on the season.

Matched up against Dylan Bunday to begin things on Monday, the Sox got on the board first in their half of the third inning. Tommy Pham reached base via a one-out single and promptly scored all the way from first on an Alex Verdugo RBI double that traveled 341 feet to left field.

Verdugo moved up to third on a Xander Bogaerts single and had the chance to tag up when Rafael Devers lined out to Max Kepler in right field. But he remained at third base and was stranded there after J.D. Martinez struck out swinging.

An inning later, Trevor Story drew a leadoff walk off Bundy and quickly went from first to third on a Franchy Cordero single that had an exit velocity of 112.7 mph. Cordero, like Story, moved up to third on another one-out double from Reese McGuire. But Pham grounded out Verdugo punched out, meaning the Sox would have to settle for one run yet again.

That would prove to be costly for Brayan Bello, who was making his fifth start and seventh overall appearance of the season for Boston. The rookie right-hander pitched well out of the gate, tossing three consecutive scoreless frames before running into some trouble in the latter half of the fourth.

Bello put himself in a tough spot when he allowed each of the first three batters he faced in the inning to reach base. He then gave up a sacrifice fly to Jake Cave, but managed to limit the damage in the fourth to just the one run despite throwing 29 pitches.

The same cannot be said about the fifth inning. After the Sox left runners on the corners in the top half, Bello issued back-to-back walks to begin the bottom half. That prompted Red Sox manager Alex Cora to give Bello the hook in favor of Matt Strahm.

Strahm, in turn, got Kepler to ground out to McGuire before yielding a bases-filling walk to Jose Miranda and striking out the pinch-hitting Kyle Garlick on six pitches. With the right-handed hitting Gio Urshela due to hit next for Minnesota, Cora swapped Strahm for John Schreiber.

Urshela won the righty-on-righty battle, as he connected on a 3-2, 83.1 mph slider from Schreiber and roped a bases-clearing, three-run double to the right field corner. That gave the Twins their first lead of the night at 4-2 and that is where the score would stay.

Bello was charged with three of those runs while Strahm was tagged for one. For Bello, the 23-year-old wound up allowing three earned runs on five hits, three walks, and two strikeouts over four-plus innings of work. He threw 84 pitches (51 strikes) in the process of raising his ERA on the season to 7.27. The Red Sox have yet to win a game he has pitched in.

Following that disastrous fifth inning, the Twins bullpen took over by limiting Red Sox hitters to one hit — a single — over the final 4 1/3 frames of Monday’s loss.

On the flip side, the two relievers Boston called up to take the place of Austin Davis and Hirokazu Sawamura pitched relatively well. Zack Kelly and Kaleb Ort have grown accustomed to following one another out of the bullpen in Worcester. On Monday, they got to experience that for the first time at the major-league level.

Kelly, making his big-league debut, needed just 18 pitches (10 strikes) to face the minimum in a scoreless sixth inning. The 27-year-old struck out the first two batters he faced before giving up a two-out single to Luis Arraez. But that was quicky negated after Arraez was gunned down at second base by McGuire.

Ort, meanwhile, scattered two walks and two strikeouts over two scoreless innings of work to keep the deficit at two runs. It proved to be for naught, though, as Twins closer Jorge Lopez made quick work of the Sox in the ninth to end it.

All told, the Red Sox went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base as a team. At 62-67, they now sit eight games back of the Blue Jays for the third and final American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Crawford vs. Archer

The Red Sox will look to bounce back against the Twins on Tuesday night. Kutter Crawford is expected to start for Boston while fellow right-hander Chris Archer is slated to do the same for Minnesota.

First pitch from Target Field is scheduled for 7:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Brayan Bello: David Berding/Getty Images)

Rich Hill dominates with 11 strikeouts over 7 scoreless innings as Red Sox take series from Rays with 5-1 victory

The Red Sox secured a series victory over the Rays on Saturday afternoon. Boston defeated Tampa Bay by a final score of 5-1 at Fenway Park to improve to 62-65 on the season.

Rich Hill, making his 19th start of the year for the Sox, was just as masterful as he was quick. The veteran left-hander scattered just three hits and one walk to go along with a season-high 11 strikeouts over seven scoreless innings of work.

After taking a perfect game into the third inning, Hill gave up a leadoff infield single to Yu Chang. He proceeded to strand Chang at first base by striking out the side on 16 pitches. The lefty yielded another base hit to Randy Arozarena in the fourth. Arozarena advanced into scoring position with two outs by stealing second base, but Hill stranded him there by retiring Isaac Paredes.

From there, Hill sat down nine of the final 11 Rays hitters he faced. He ended his outing with an emphatic three-pitch strikeout of Chang. Finishing with a final pitch count of 95 (71 strikes), the 42-year-old southpaw induced 12 total swings-and-misses. He also picked up his sixth win of the season while lowering his ERA to 4.32.

By the time Hill recorded the final out of the seventh, the Red Sox were already in possession of a 5-0 lead. Four of those runs came right away in the bottom of the first inning, when they sent all nine hitters to the plate against Rays starter (and old friend) Jeffrey Springs.

Tommy Pham set the tone with a leadoff single that left his bat at 103.8 mph. Alex Verdugo followed with a hard-hit double that put runners at second and third for J.D. Martinez. Martinez came through with a two-run single off the Green Monster to get Boston on the board first.

Springs then recorded the first two outs of the inning, but ran into more trouble when Trevor Story reached base on an infield single. After Enrique Hernandez drew a walk to load the bases, Bobby Dalbec delivered with another two-run single to center field.

Fast forward all the way to the fourth inning, and Hernandez got the best of Springs again by cranking a 366-foot leadoff home run over the Green Monster to make it a 5-0 game. Hernandez’s sixth homer of the season left his bat at 104 mph.

As was the case on Friday night, things once again got interesting for Boston in the eighth inning. Jeurys Familia took over for Hill and recorded the first two outs of the frame on 11 pitches. He then gave up three straight hits, including an RBI single from Randy Arozarena.

That sequence of events prompted Red Sox manager Alex Cora go back to the bullpen to call upon John Schreiber. Schreiber in turn, got the final out of the eighth and worked his way around a one-out walk in the ninth to lock up the win and notch his fifth save of the year.

With the win, the Red Sox now trail the Blue Jays by seven games for the third and final American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Pivetta goes for sweep

The Red Sox will look to complete a three-game weekend sweep of the Rays on Sunday afternoon. Boston will turn to right-hander Nick Pivetta while Tampa Bay will go with fellow righty Corey Kluber.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Rich Hill: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Josh Winckowski allows 6 runs as Red Sox manage just 5 hits, fail to finish off sweep of Pirates in 8-2 loss

The Red Sox were unable to complete a three-game sweep over the Pirates on Thursday night. Boston fell to Pittsburgh by a final score of 4-2 at PNC Park, thus marking the end of its three-game winning streak.

Josh Winckowski made his 12th start of the season for the Sox after Nathan Eovaldi was scratched due to trap soreness. The rookie right-hander allowed six earned runs on seven hits and one walk to go along with just two strikeouts over five innings of work.

The Pirates got to Winckowski right away in the first inning. After Kevin Newman reached base on a one-out single, Bryan Renolds crushed a two-run home run to give his side an early 2-0 lead for the second night in a row.

Winckowski managed to retire the side in order in the second, but ran into more trouble in the third by giving up back-to-back two-out singles to Newman and Reynolds. Ben Gamel followed by lacing a two-run double over Tommy Pham’s glove in deep left field, scoring both Newman and Reynolds to make it a 4-0 ballgame.

The Newman-Reynolds combination got to Winckowski again in the fifth, as the former ripped a one-out single to center field before the latter clubbed another two-run home run. Reynolds’ 20th homer of the season gave Pittsburgh a commanding 6-0 lead. Winckowski’s night came to an end after he recorded the final out of the fifth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 83 (53 strikes), Winckowski managed to induce just six swings-and-misses while averaging 94.1 mph with his four-seam fastball. The 24-year-old hurler was ultimately charged with the loss and saw his ERA on the season rise to 5.19.

In relief of Winckowski, Austin Davis received the first and only call out of the Boston bullpen from manager Alex Cora. The left-hander surrendered two runs, both of which came in the bottom of the sixth inning.

After issuing a one-out walk to Greg Allen, Davis gave up an RBI double to the pinch-hitting Michael Chavis (who he was traded for last July). Chavis proceeded to score from second on an RBI single off the bat of Tyler Heineman, which made it a 8-0 contest in favor of the Pirates.

It took until the seventh inning for the Sox to put a runner in scoring position. After being completely held in check by Pirates starter J.T. Brubaker, Alex Verdugo advanced to second base with one out in the seventh on a throwing error by shortstop Oneil Cruz.

Verdugo was stranded at second in the seventh, but the Boston bats finally got on the board in the eighth. Reese McGuire and Bobby Dalbec greeted new reliever Zach Thompson with back-to-back one-out singles. Jarren Duran then drew an eight-pitch walk to fill the bases for Pham, who plated McGuire on a chopper to third base.

Rafael Devers promptly drove in Dalbec on a sacrifice fly to center field before Xander Bogaerts re-loaded the bases by drawing another walk off Manny Banuelos. But Verdugo struck out on six pitches to extinguish the threat.

Down to their final three outs in the ninth, J.D. Martinez, Christian Arroyo, and McGuire went down quietly against Colin Holderman to wrap up another lifeless defeat in which the Red Sox tallied just five hits. None of those hits went for extra-bases.

With the loss, Boston drops to 58-59 on the season and 8-10 in interleague play.

Next up: Baltimore awaits

The Red Sox will next travel to Balitmore to take on the Orioles in a three-game weekend series that concludes in Williamsport, Pa. with the annual Little League Classic on Sunday night. Kutter Crawford is slated to get the ball for Boston in Friday’s opener while fellow right-hander Jordan Lyles is expected to do the same for Baltimore.

First pitch from Camden Yards is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Josh Winckowski: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Christian Arroyo and Alex Verdugo combine for 6 hits as Red Sox get back to .500 with 8-3 victory over Pirates

The Red Sox once again took care of business against the Pirates on Wednesday night. Boston defeated Pittsburgh by a final score of 8-3 to take its third straight series and improve to 59-59 on the season.

Rich Hill made his 18th start of the season for the Sox and turned in a solid outing despite struggling out of the gate. The veteran left-hander allowed two runs on three hits and zero walks to go along with four strikeouts over five innings of work.

Both of those Pirates runs came right away in the bottom of the first, when Hill followed a leadoff single from Kevin Newman by serving up a 416-foot two-run home run to Bryan Reynolds.

That put the Red Sox in an early 2-0 hole, but they quickly responded against opposing starter Roansy Contreras in the top of the second. Alex Verdugo led off with a single and J.D. Martinez followed by drawing a four-pitch walk. After Eric Hosmer flew out, Christian Arroyo stayed hot by ripping a two-run double to right-center field past a sprawling Reynolds. Arroyo’s ninth double of the season drove in both Verdugo and Martinez to knot things up at two runs apiece.

Reese McGuire kept the line moving with a one-out single that put runners on the corners for Enrique Hernandez, who collected his second RBI in as many games by plating Arroyo on a softly-hit single through the right side of the infield. Rafael Devers was intentionally walked with two outs to fill the bases for Xander Bogaerts, who struck out on four pitches to end the inning, but not before Boston had taken its first lead of the night at 3-2.

Hill, meanwhile, settled in nicely by retiring nine straight batters from the middle of the second through the end of the fourth. He gave up a single to Rodolfo Castro in the fifth, but ended his night on a positive note by sitting down the final three Pirates he faced.

Finishing with an efficient pitch count of 57 (43 strikes), Hill induced three swings-and-misses with his four-seamer and three more with his slider. The 42-year-old hurler also picked up his fifth win of the season while lowering his ERA to 4.68.

Moments before Hill had recorded the final out of the fifth inning, the Red Sox tacked on additional run in the top half of the frame. Bogaerts, after reaching base via a one-out single off Contreras, scored all the way from first on an RBI double down the right field line off the bat of Verdugo.

Taking a 4-2 lead into the sixth inning, Ryan Brasier received the first call out of the Boston bullpen from manager Alex Cora. Brasier punched out the side on 14 pitches before making way for Hirokazu Sawamura, who faced the minimum in a scoreless bottom of the seventh.

In the eighth, Verdugo led off another inning with a hard-hit single. Back-to-back one-out singles from Hosmer and Arroyo allowed Verdugo to move up to third base. The pinch-hitting Rob Refsnyder drove him in by drawing a bases-loaded walk off Pirates reliever Eric Stout, thus giving the Red Sox a 5-2 lead.

Sawamura picked up where he left off by retiring the side in order in the eighth. The same can be said for Arroyo, who knocked in his third run of the night on a bases-loaded single in the top of the ninth.

Kevin Plawecki, who took over behind the plate for McGuire, made the most of his first and only at-bat of the night by driving in a pair on a softly-hit two-run single to shallow right field.

That sequence of events saw the Red Sox jump out to a commanding 8-2 advantage. It also afforded them the opportunity to have veteran reliever Jeurys Familia make his club debut. Signed to a minor-league deal earlier this month, Familia had his contract selected from Triple-A Worcester on Saturday.

So it took four days for Familia to make his first appearance for Boston. The former All-Star closer surrendered hits to three of the first four Pirates he faced, including an RBI single from Ben Gamel.

Familia did not allow the Pirates to get any closer than that, though, as he got Kevin Padlo to ground out before punching out Castro on six pitches to secure an 8-3 victory for the Red Sox.

All told, Verdugo and Arroyo led the way offensively by combining for six hits (two doubles), four RBIs, four runs scored. Verdugo and Martinez combined to draw five walks as well.

Next up: Sox look to break out the brooms

The Red Sox will go for a three-game sweep over the Pirates on Thursday night. They last swept an opponent in a multi-game series on June 26, when they did so against the Guardians.

Rookie right-hander Josh Winckowski will get the ball for Boston after Thursday’s scheduled starter — Nathan Eovaldi — was scratched with a sore trap muscle. Fellow righty J.T. Brubaker is expected to take the mound for Pittsburgh.

First pitch from PNC Park is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Christian Arroyo: Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Nick Pivetta allows just 1 hit over 7 scoreless innings as Red Sox hold on for 5-3 win over Pirates

The Red Sox scored four runs out of the gate and held on for a series-opening win over the Pirates at PNC Park on Tuesday night. Boston defeated Pittsburgh by a final score of 5-3 to improve to 58-59 on the season and 7-9 in interleague play.

Making their first trip to Pittsburgh in nearly seven years, the Sox received an early boost from the top half of their lineup. Matched up against Mitch Keller to begin things on Tuesday, Tommy Pham led off the first inning with a line-drive single.

Rafael Devers and J.D. Martinez followed by drawing back-to-back walks to fill the bases for Alex Verdugo, who drove in his side’s first run on a groundball single to right field. Christian Arroyo and Eric Hosmer tacked on two more with run-scoring singles of their own, though Hosmer’s — a 214-foot fly ball — deflected off the glove of Pirates rookie Oneil Cruz before landing in left field.

With the bases still full, Enrique Hernandez came through in his first plate appearance in more than two months by lifting a 350-foot sacrifice fly to left field to plate Verdugo. An inning later, Pham reached base again on a one-out single. He moved up to second base when Martinez drew a walk and scored from there after Pirates centerfielder Bryan Reynolds failed to catch a 366-foot line drive off the bat of Verdugo.

That sequence of events gave the Red Sox a five-run lead, which was plenty big for Nick Pivetta. Making his 24th start of the season on Tuesday, Pivetta allowed just one hit and three walks to go along with six strikeouts over seven scoreless innings of work.

The one hit Pivetta surrendered came with two outs in the bottom of the first and put runners at first and second. The right-hander did not buckle, though, as he proceeded to get Kevin Padlo to ground out to himself to extinguish the threat.

From there, Pivetta settled in by retiring 18 of the next 20 batters he faced through the end of the seventh. Of the 99 pitches the 29-year-old threw on Tuesday, 63 went for strikes. He induced a total of eight swings-and-misses in the process of picking up his ninth win and lowering his ERA on the season to 4.28.

In relief of Pivetta, Austin Davis received the first call out of the Boston bullpen from manager Alex Cora. The left-hander made things interesting in the eighth by loading the bases with one out on two singles and a walk. That prompted Cora to turn to John Schreiber, who struck out Reynolds on a nasty slider and was one strike away from ending the inning.

Unfortunately for the Red Sox, Schreiber served up a bases-clearing, three-run double to Gamel on another slider at the bottom of the strike zone. All three of those runs were charged to Davis as the Pirates trimmed the deficit down to two runs at 5-3.

Matt Barnes was called upon to end it in the ninth. He did just that by punching out Cruz and Rodolfo Castro and retiring Greg Allen on 12 pitches to earn his third save of the season (and first since May 21) to secure the win.

So, despite going hitless from the second inning on, the Red Sox picked up their fourth win in their last five games. Pham led the way with two singles and two runs scored out of the leadoff spot while Verdugo, Arroyo, and Hosmer, had one hit and one RBI between them.

Next up: Hill vs. Contreras

The Red Sox will go for their third straight series victory in Wednesday’s contest against the Pirates. Veteran left-hander Rich Hill will get the start for Boston and rookie right-hander Josh Winckowski will follow out of the bullpen. Fellow righty Roansy Contreras is slated to take the mound for Pittsburgh.

First pitch from PNC Park is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Alex Verdugo comes through with game-winning RBI double as Red Sox defeat Guardians, 3-1, to snap 5-game losing streak

Back in their yellow City Connect uniforms, the Red Sox put an end to their five-game losing streak with a 3-1 win over the Guardians at Fenway Park on Monday night. Boston took the series opener from Cleveland to avoid falling under .500 and improve to 49-48 on the season.

Matched up against Guardians starter Zach Plesac to begin things on Monday, the Sox struck first in their half of the third. Jackie Bradley Jr. led the inning off with a 376-foot wallball double off the Green Monster. Yolmer Sanchez followed by immediately plating Bradley Jr. on an RBI single down the left field line.

At that moment, the skies above Fenway Park began to open and a 38-minute rain delay commenced. Plesac remained in the game for Cleveland on the other side of the delay.

Nick Pivetta, on the other hand, made his 20th start of the season for Boston. Having allowed six or more runs in each of previous three outings before the All-Star break, the right-hander bounced back nicely on Monday. He yielded just one run on seven hits, three walks, and six strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings of work.

That lone run came in the top half of the fifth. Myles Straw and Steven Kwan led off with back-to-back singles before Amed Rosario grounded into a 6-4-3 double play that moved Straw up to third base. With only one out to get, Pivetta gave up a game-tying single to Jose Ramirez that left the third baseman’s bat at a measly 58.6 mph.

Still, it was enough to drive in Straw and knot things up at one run apiece. Pivetta, meanwhile got through the fifth and recorded the first two outs of the sixth before allowing the final two batters he faced to reach base on a walk and single.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 95 (62 strikes), Pivetta induced a total of 13 swings-and-misses while topping out at 96.4 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 51 times. The 29-year-old’s ERA on the season now sits at 4.35.

In relief of Pivetta, John Schreiber received the first call out of the Boston bullpen from manager Alex Cora. The righty officially closed the book on Pivetta’s night by stranding the two runners he inherited to keep the 1-1 tie intact going into the bottom of the sixth.

That is exactly where the Red Sox broke out for their most productive frame of the contest. Rob Refsnyder drew a leadoff walk off Plesac and broke the stalemate by scoring all the way from first on a go-ahead RBI double off the bat of Alex Verdugo that Steven Kwan struggled with in left field.

Following a Guardians pitching change, Xander Bogaerts greeted new reliever Trevor Stephan by moving Verdugo up to third on a single. Christian Vazquez then provided some insurance by driving in Verdugo on a softly-hit, run-scoring single up the middle.

That sequence events made it a 3-1 game in favor of Boston. From there, Schreiber picked up where he left off by punching out two in a scoreless seventh inning. Garrett Whitlock, who pitched on Sunday, was dispatched for the eighth inning and wound up retiring all six batters he faced to record his second save of the season and secure a 3-1 victory.

Next up: Winckowski returns

The Red Sox are expected to activate Josh Winckowski from the COVID-19 related injured list so that he can start on Tuesday. The rookie right-hander last pitched on July 13, allowing three runs over six innings against the Rays at Tropicana Field.

The Guardians have not yet named a starter. Regardless, first pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Brayan Bello’s early struggles continue as Red Sox get swept by Blue Jays, drop fifth straight in 8-4 loss

A bad weekend only got worse for the Red Sox on Sunday afternoon as they were swept by the Blue Jays. Boston fell to Toronto by a final score of 8-4, marking its fifth straight loss to drop back to .500 (48-48) for the first time since June 5.

Brayan Bello, making his third start of the season and first since July 11, allowed five earned runs on nine hits and two walks to go along with two strikeouts over four innings of work.

All five runs scored off the rookie right-hander came right away in the top of the first inning. George Springer and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. immediately put the pressure on with a leadoff single and double. Bo Bichette then drew a one-out walk to fill the bases. Bello struck out Teoscar Hernandez for the second out, but was unable to escape the jam as Cavan Biggio plated his side’s first two runs on a two-run single through the left side of the infield.

Another walk of Matt Chapman filled the bases with Raimel Tapia, who again came through in that spot by ripping a bases-clearing, three-run triple into the triangle to give Toronto a commanding 5-0 lead out of the gate.

Boston was at least able to counter by pushing across one run in the latter half of the first. Opposed by Blue Jays starter Ross Stripling, Jarren Duran laced a leadoff double, moved up to third base on an Alex Verdugo single, and scored on an RBI single off the bat of Xander Bogaerts. A Franchy Cordero groundout allowed Verdugo and Bogaerts to advance an additional 90 feet, but Bobby Dalbec was called out on strikes to kill any shot of extending the rally.

Fast forward to the fourth, Cordero led off with a softly-hit single off Stripling, stole second base with two outs, and then scored from second on a 261-foot RBI single from Yolmer Sanchez that cut Toronto’s advantage down to three runs at 5-2.

Bello, meanwhile, provided the Sox with four innings yet again despite dealing with a fair amount of traffic basepaths. By the time he got the final batter he faced in Bichette to ground into an inning-ending double play in the fourth, the 23-year-old’s pitch count had risen to 67 (41 strikes). His ERA on the season now sits at 10.50.

In relief of Bello, Hirokazu Sawamura received the first call out of the Boston bullpen from manager Alex Cora. Sawamura, in turn, issued a leadoff walk to Hernandez and a one-out out double to Chapman. Hernandez scored on an RBI single from Tapia while Chapman scored on a fielder’s choice. Tapia then advanced to third on a Jeter Downs fielding error and scored when Guerrero Jr. reached base on an infield single.

That sequence made it an 8-2 contest in favor of the Blue Jays. The Red Sox, again, got one of those runs back in their half of the fifth when Jarren Duran ripped a one-out triple off reliever Trevor Richards and scored on an RBI single off the bat of Verdugo.

An inning later, Jackie Bradley Jr. took Richards 404 feet deep over the Green Monster for his third home run of the season. From that point forward, however, Bradley Jr. accounted for Boston’s only other hit with a leadoff single off Adam Cimber in the bottom of the ninth that ultimately amounted to nothing.

After Sawamura surrendered three runs in the fifth, Garrett Whitlock, Austin Davis, Kaleb Ort, and Jake Diekman combined for four scoreless frames. But it was not enough in the end as 8-4 would go on to be Sunday’s final score at Fenway Park.

With the loss, the Red Sox are now 1-9 in their last 10 games, 5-15 in the month of July, and 12-29 against divisional opponents on the season. They currently trail the Mariners (51-45) for the third and final American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Plesac

Looking to put this weekend behind them, the Red Sox will welcome the 48-46 Guardians into town for a four-game series that beings on Monday night. Nick Pivetta is slated to start the series opener for Boston while fellow right-hander Zach Plesac is in line to do the same for Cleveland.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Brayan Bello: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)