Nick Pivetta falters as Red Sox fall short against Phillies in 5-4 loss to close out first half of season

The Red Sox capped off the first half of their season in disappointing fashion on Sunday afternoon, as their comeback attempt against the Phillies fell short in the form of a 5-4 defeat at Fenway Park.

Xander Bogaerts provided the Sox with an early 1-0 lead by crushing a solo home run — his second in as many days — off Phillies opener Brandon Kintzler in the bottom of the second inning, but that would prove to be the only lead Boston would enjoy on Sunday.

That being the case because Red Sox starter Nick Pivetta got rocked for five runs — four of which were earned — on four hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts on the afternoon.

Facing off against his former team for the first time since being traded last August, Pivetta likely had revenge on his mind, and it looked like things were going to go his way when he retired the first six batters he faced in order.

The third inning, however, was a different story for the right-hander, as he issued a one-out single to Ronald Torreyes to break up the perfect game before walking Travis Jankowski on 10 pitches and subsequently recording the second out.

Just two strikes away from escaping the jam, Pivetta gave up a hard-hit single to J.T. Realmuto that undoubtedly would have plated one run, but wound plating two on a throwing error made by right fielder Hunter Renfroe.

That sequence saw the Sox’ one-run lead turn into a one-run deficit at 2-1, and the Phillies tacked on even more off Pivetta in their half of the fourth when Torreyes deposited a two-out, three-run homer over the Green Monster, making it a 5-1 contest in favor of the visitors.

Pivetta’s day came to a close after he recorded the final out of the inning, as the 28-year-old finished his outing having thrown just 76 pitches, 48 of which went for strikes. In addition to taking the loss to fall to 7-4 on the year, Pivetta also raised his ERA on the season up to 4.30.

While Pivetta certainly put his side in a less-than-ideal spot, the Red Sox bullpen picked things up the rest of the way, as the likes of Yacksel Rios, Darwinzon Hernandez, Hirokazu Sawamura, Adam Ottavino, and All-Star Matt Barnes combined to toss five innings of scoreless baseball.

That said, the Boston lineup was unable to get anything substantial going offensively, though they certainly had their chances to do so.

After falling behind 5-1 in the fourth, the Sox countered in their half of the fifth by plating a run of their own an RBI groundout off the bat of Alex Verdugo, cutting the deficit down to three runs.

An inning later, Boston threatened once more, this time driving in a pair on back-to-back run-scoring knocks from Bobby Dalbec and Christian Arroyo off Phillies reliever Jose Alvarado to trim Philadelphia’s advantage to just one run at 5-4.

Fast forward to the eighth, and it looked as though the Red Sox were in a prime spot to turn this game on its head, as the bases were loaded with two outs for Verdugo, who was matched up against left-handed reliever Ranger Suarez.

Suarez wound up winning that particular left-on-left battle, though, as he got Verdugo to weakly ground out to second to extinguish the threat.

In the ninth, Suarez was at it again even while going up against the three most dangerous hitters in Boston’s lineup. The lefty punched out J.D. Martinez and Bogaerts, then got Devers to ground out to first to preserve the 5-4 victory for his side, as well as a 5-4 loss for the Red Sox.

All in all, the Sox went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position on Sunday and left 10 men on base as a team.

With the loss, the Red Sox fall to 55-36 on the season and end the unofficial first half of the campaign having dropped four of their last five. They do remain 1 1/2 games up on the Rays for first place in the American League East

Gonzalez removed with right hamstring strain

Marwin Gonzalez was originally in Red Sox manager Alex Cora’s lineup at first base and batting out of the eight-hole, but was forced to exit in between the second and third innings after re-aggravating his right hamstring while running out a ground ball.

Bobby Dalbec replaced Gonzalez at first base.

A trip to the injured list for the veteran utility man seems likely, per Cora.

Next up: All-Star break

The Red Sox will be off for the next three days on account of the All-Star break.

Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez, Nathan Eovaldi, and Matt Barnes will enjoy the festivities in Denver this week, while the rest of the team will prepare for a four-game series against the Yankees that begins in the Bronx on Thursday night.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez is slated to get the ball for Boston in the series opener, while New York has yet to name a starter.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 7:08 p.m. eastern time on ESPN.

(Picture of Christian Vazquez and Nick Pivetta: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Ninth-Ranked Prospect Jarren Duran Goes 1-For-2 with Seventh Inning Single in 2019 All-Star Futures Game

In his first ever MLB All-Star Futures Game on Sunday, Red Sox prospect Jarren Duran went 1-for-2 with a single after entering as a pinch-hitter in the bottom half of the sixth inning.

Selected to the showcase on June 28th, Duran bounced out to second in his first at-bat against Padres prospect Adrian Morejon to lead off the sixth.

An inning later, after the AL side had tied things up at two on a one-out, two-run home run from Sam Huff, Duran came to the plate with the potential winning run at second following an Isaac Parades double and the chance to walk it off.

Facing off against Rockies prospect Ben Bowden this time around, Duran nearly came through with a line-drive, opposite field hit to left on a 2-0 four-seamer, but the ball tailed off to foul territory.

Instead, the 22-year-old settled for a bloop single to left on a 3-2, 93 MPH heater from Bowden, one that left fielder Alek Thomas kept in front of him to hold Parades at third.

Another Padres prospect in the form of right-hander Luis Patino came in for Bowden after that Duran base hit, and this contest finished in a 2-2 after eight competitive frames.

Ranked as the ninth-best prospect in Boston’s system, Duran has slashed .240/.298/.298 with five doubles, one triple, six stolen bases, and six RBI in 30 games since being promoted from High-A Salem to Double-A Portland on June 3rd.

2019 is Duran’s first full season in professional baseball after being selected by the Red Sox in the seventh round of the 2018 amatuer draft, so to make the Futures Game this quickly is surely a promising step for the young outfielder.

On another note, Miami Marlins sixth-ranked prospect Isan Diaz, a 23-year-old shortstop out of Puerto Rico who moved to Springfield at the age of four and attended Central High School, went 0-for-3 with a walk for the National League squad.

Christian Vazquez Blasts 14th Homer, David Price Goes Five Strong as Red Sox Finish off Sweep of Tigers and Head into All-Star Break Winners of Four Straight

After another rain-filled 10-6 win over the Tigers on Saturday, the Red Sox completed the three-game sweep and wrapped up the first half of their season with a 6-1 victory in Detroit on Sunday to improve to 49-41 on the year.

Making his 16th start of the season for Boston to cap off the weekend was David Price, who entered the day with a 2.65 ERA over his last three outings dating back to June 18th.

Tossing five full innings this time around, the left-hander yielded just one earned run on four hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts on the afternoon.

That one Detroit run came right away in the bottom half of the first, when after walking the leadoff man in Victor Reyes, the one-time Tiger gave up an RBI double to former teammate Nicholas Castellanos on a 1-0, 83 MPH changeup.

Other than that one blip and despite putting his team in an early hole, Price recovered nicely, retiring 15 of the next 19 hitters he faced leading to the end of the sixth, which is the point where his outing came to a close due to a high pitch count.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 99 (66 strikes), the 33-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball more than 35% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing a pair of swings and misses and topping out at 93.8 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Able to pick up his seventh winning decision to reach 150 wins for his career while also lowering his ERA on the season down to 3.24, Price’s first half numbers look like this: 7-2, 3.24 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 83 1/3 innings pitched, 95 punchouts.

In relief of Price, left-hander Josh Taylor came on with a four-run lead to protect, and he racked up four strikeouts over two perfect frames of work, making way for Ryan Brasier in the eighth.

There, Brasier could not get through the inning, as he served up a two-out, two-run home run to Brandon Dixon, cutting Boston’s advantage down to three before walking his second man and getting the hook in favor of Brandon Workman.

Workman escaped the potential jam, leaving the tying run on deck and retiring the side by getting Niko Goodrum to ground out to Michael Chavis at first.

Finally, in the ninth, Heath Hembree maneuvered his way around a one-out John Hicks single and notched his second save of the season with an eight-pitch strikeout of Reyes.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against left-hander Gregory Soto, who was last used as a reliever for Detroit in the first game of this series on Friday.

Serving as the opener in this one, the Boston bats got to Soto beginning in the top half of the second inning, when after falling behind one early, Christian Vazquez erased that deficit and gave his team a one-run lead by blasting a one-out, two-run homer 376 feet over the right field wall for his 14th of the season.

Fast forward all the way to the fifth, with lefty Nick Ramirez on the mound, and Xander Bogaerts came through with two outs and runners at first and second, as he plated both Marco Hernandez and Mookie Betts on a two-run double to left for his 64th and 65th RBI of the year.

Two batters later, after J.D. Martinez reached on an intentional walk and Bogaerts advanced 90 feet on a wild pitch from Ramirez, Andrew Benintendi picked up where he left off Saturday by sneaking an RBI single through the left side of the infield, driving in Bogaerts and giving his team the 5-1 edge.

And in the eighth, Martinez led things off against new Tigers reliever Eduardo Jiminez with a line-drive double to center, moved up to third on a Benintendi flyout, and came in to score from third thanks to a wild pitch with two outs and Jackie Bradley Jr. at the plate.

That put the Red Sox ahead 6-1, and after the Tigers rallied with two runs of their own in their half of the eighth, 6-3 would go on to be Sunday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

Rafael Devers’ 10-game hitting streak has come to an end.

J.D. Martinez extended his hitting streak to nine games on Sunday. Over that span, he is hitting .347 to go along with two home runs and six RBI.

Christian Vazquez’s last seven games: .387/.394/.871 with four homers and 10 runs driven in.

The Red Sox are eight games over .500 for the first time this season.

So, that’s it for the first half of the season. The Red Sox head into the All-Star break winners of four straight and five of their last six. They are currently nine games off the pace for first place in the American League East and two games behind the Cleveland Indians for the second wild card spot.

Coming out of the four-day break, the Sox will begin a seven-game homestand against the Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

For now, it’s on to Cleveland, where we have Jarren Duran and the Futures Game Sunday night, the Home Run Derby on Monday, and the 90th Midsummer Classic on Tuesday.

The Red Sox will be represented by Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez, while Alex Cora will be managing the American League squad.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:30 PM EDT on FOX.