Red Sox swept by Rays following 3-2 defeat; Boston extends losing streak to season-high 4 straight games

After Xander Bogaerts essentially described Sunday night’s series finale against the Rays as a must-win, the Red Sox came up short at Tropicana Field and were unable to avoid a three-game series sweep at the hands of their division rivals by a final score of 3-2.

Nick Pivetta, making his 21st start of the season for the Sox, took a perfect game into the third inning after sitting down each of the first eight batters he faced in order.

A two-out walk to the Rays’ No. 9 hitter in the bottom of the third, however, altered the course for Pivetta, as he saw his no-hit bid come to an end moments later by serving up a two-run home run to Brandon Lowe on a 3-2, 85 mph slider that was grooved down the heart of the plate.

Lowe’s blast put Tampa Bay up 2-0, but the Boston bats were able to cut that deficit in half in the top of the fourth. There, when matched up against tough Rays starter Shane McClanahan, ex-Rays outfielder Hunter Renfroe put a charge into his 16th big fly of the year.

Renfroe turned around a 2-2, 97 mph fastball from McClanahan and deposited it 427 feet to deep center field. The solo shot, which had an exit velocity of 104 mph, made it a 2-1 game in favor of the Rays.

The Sox had a chance to do more damage in the inning, with Christian Vazquez ripping a one-out single and Alex Verdugo advancing him into scoring position by drawing a walk, but McClanahan rallied by getting Kevin Plawecki to fly out and Bobby Dalbec to strike out to escape the jam.

Pivetta, meanwhile, got through a scoreless fourth inning unscathed, but ran into more trouble in the fifth when he yielded a leadoff single to rookie phenom Wander Franco.

A wild pitch from the right-hander allowed Franco to move up to second base, and old friend Manuel Margot took full advantage of that miscue by lacing a run-scoring single to right field to bring in Franco and make it a 3-1 contest in favor of his side.

Following that sequence, Pivetta was able to record the first two outs of the fifth, but his night ended then and there when Red Sox manager Alex Cora gave him the hook with the left-handed hitting Lowe due up next for the Rays.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 76 (54 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler wound up surrendering three earned runs on three hits, one walk, and six strikeouts.

In relief of Pivetta, left-hander Josh Taylor was called upon to face Lowe, and he won that particular matchup by getting him to pop out into foul territory to retire the side.

From there, recently-acquired reliever Hansel Robles made his Red Sox debut in the sixth inning, and he maneuvered his way around a leadoff single by inducing a fielder’s choice out and 3-6-3 double play in his lone scoreless frame of work.

The Rays turned to their bullpen starting in the seventh after McClanahan had given them six strong innings, and Verdugo greeted their first reliever of the night — Drew Rasmussen — by lining a scorching 111 mph double down the right field line to lead things off.

Verdugo moved up to third on a Plawecki fly out and scored on a wild pitch while Kiké Hernández, but even after Hernández himself singled and Rafael Devers drew a walk with two outs, a slumping J.D. Martinez was unable to bring in either runner and instead grounded into a force out to leave things at 3-2 in favor of Tampa Bay.

Following two scoreless innings of relief from Garrett Whitlock in which he scattered three total hits thanks to some stellar defense behind him out of the bullpen, the Red Sox were down to their final three outs going into their half of the ninth inning.

With righty reliever Matt Wisler on the mound for the Rays, Plawecki and Jarren Duran (pinch-hitting for Dalbec) grounded out and punched out, respectively. But Hernández provided a spark by reaching base on a two-out single.

The pinch-running Jonathan Arauz took over for Hernández as the base runner at first base, and Devers was able to advance him all the way up to third on another base hit to center field, leaving things in the hands of Martinez.

Very much in need of a hit, Martinez got ahead in the count against Wisler at 3-1, but swung at an outside pitch that likely would have been a ball before putting an 81 mph slider that was down and away in play.

Unfortunately for Martinez, the ball left his bat at just 71 mph and traveled a mere 226 feet before landing in the glove of Margot for the third and final out of the ninth, thus sealing a 3-2 defeat for the Sox.

In the process of getting swept by the Rays on Sunday night, the Red Sox went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position while leaving 10 men on base as a team.

Sunday’s loss also extends Boston’s losing streak to a season-high four consecutive games, dropping them to 63-44 on the year. They now trail Tampa Bay by 1 1/2 games for first place in the American League East after what was undoubtedly a crushing weekend.

That said, the Red Sox will be off on Monday as they prepare to embark upon the next portion of this three-city road trip in Detroit against a surprising 51-57 Tigers team led by Cora’s former colleague in A.J. Hinch.

Boston previously bested Detroit by taking the opening and concluding games of a three-game set at Fenway Park back in early May. The Sox outscored the Tigers, 28-22, in the process of doing so.

This time around, right-hander Garrett Richards will get the ball for Boston in Tuesday’s series opener at Comerica Park. He will be opposed by fellow righty Wily Peralta for Detroit.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN. Red Sox will be looking to snap this four-game skid.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo and Hunter Renfroe: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Kiké Hernández earns American League Player of the Week honors

Red Sox utility man Kiké Hernández has been named the American League Player of the Week for the week of July 19-25, Major League Baseball announced Monday.

Hernández becomes the second member of the Red Sox to earn AL Player of the Week honors this season, joining J.D. Martinez — who did so in early April.

On the National League side of things, Dodgers utility man Chris Taylor — a former teammate of Hernández — was the recipient of Player of the Week honors after he posted an OPS of 1.433 in seven games against the Giants and Rockies.

In six games against the Blue Jays and Yankees this past week, Hernández went 10-for-25 (.400/.448/1.000) at the plate with four doubles, one triple, three home runs, nine RBI, and eight runs scored over 29 plate appearances while playing second base, shortstop, and center field.

The 29-year-old began his week with his first multi-homer game of the year in Buffalo, then came through in the clutch on more than one occasion at Fenway Park while the Yankees were in town.

On Thursday, with his side down to their final out and trailing 3-1 in the late stages of the ninth inning, Hernández laced a game-tying, two-run double off the Green Monster that scored both Alex Verdugo and Jarren Duran to knot things up at three runs a piece and set the Red Sox off for a walk-off 5-4 win in the 10th.

On Sunday, Hernández took center stage in the eighth inning of Boston’s dramatic come-from-behind victory over New York, as he ripped an RBI double off Yankees reliever Zack Britton that brought in Christian Vazquez to cut the Sox’ deficit down to one run and later scored what would turn out to be the winning run on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Xander Bogaerts.

Including what he has done over his last six games, Hernández is now slashing .244/.322/.467 (111 wRC+) to go along with 14 home runs and 39 RBI over 84 total games (357 plate appearances) in his first season with the Red Sox.

Hernández, who signed a two-year, $14 million deal with Boston in February, has proven to be a valuable component of what the club is trying to accomplish in 2021 and beyond.

Coming into play on Monday, the right-handed hitter out of Puerto Rico ranks 20th among qualified American League position players in fWAR (2.4) while leading all AL center fielders in Defensive Runs Saved (12), per FanGraphs.

The fact that Hernández has been as solid as he has been at center field this season speaks to just how versatile he is, as he originally signed with the Sox to be the club’s everyday second baseman.

That being said, Hernández — who turns 30 in late August — will make just his second start and fifth overall appearance at shortstop in place of Xander Bogaerts in Monday’s series opener against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

First pitch between the 61-39 Red Sox and 49-46 Blue Jays is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Kiké Hernández: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox storm back with 5-run 8th inning to take series from Yankees in dramatic 5-4 victory

After figuratively getting their hearts ripped out in a 4-3 loss on Saturday, it appeared as though the Red Sox were well on their way to dropping their second straight to the Yankees at Fenway Park on Sunday.

Yankees starter Domingo German absolutely dominated the Sox lineup through the first seven innings of Sunday’s contest, as he failed to yield a single hit while only allowing a pair of base runners on a walk and passed ball on a strikeout.

In addition to not being able to get anything done offensively, Boston found themselves in a four-run hole through the first 7 1/2 innings in their series finale against New York.

Red Sox starter Martin Perez had pitched well enough opposite German, giving up three runs on six hits, two walks, and six strikeouts over six solid innings of work thanks to a pair of double plays.

In relief of Perez, however, Yacksel Rios came on in the seventh and struggled mightily with his control, as he walked two batters and plunked another to load the bases before Josh Taylor was deployed and got through the rest of the innins unscathed.

Brandon Workman, meanwhile, saw the Yankees’ three-run lead increase to four in the eighth by serving up a leadoff triple to Gary Sanchez that was followed by an RBI single off the bat of Gleyber Torres.

So, there the Red Sox were, trailing by four runs with just nine more outs to work with against an opposing pitcher they had yet to record a hit off of.

Somehow, someway, Boston’s fortunes changed in their half of the eighth, as Alex Verdugo led things off with a hard-hit double to right field that saw German’s no-hit bid end and his day subsequently come to a close.

Matched up against Yankees reliever Jonathan Loaisiga now, Hunter Renfroe put an end to New York’s attempt at a shutout, as he laced another line-drive double that brought in Verdugo from second to make it a 4-1 game.

Christian Vazquez kept the line moving, plating Renfroe on an RBI single to right field and moving into scoring position on another base hit courtesy of Franchy Cordero.

Following a brief mound visit as the Boston lineup flipped back over, Kiké Hernández got ahead in the count against Loaisiga at 2-0 and took full advantage of that by ripping a run-scoring double down the left field line that drove in Vazquez, cutting the deficit down to one run at 4-3.

With the Yankees opting to go with left-hander Zack Britton out of the bullpen in place of Loaisiga, Red Sox manager Alex Cora countered by pinch-hitting Kevin Plawecki for the left-handed hitting Jarren Duran.

Plawecki answered the call accordingly, scoring Cordero from third on a game-tying RBI groundout that also advanced Hernández up to third base, though he did not stay there long.

Yes, with a sacrifice fly hit just deep enough to right field, Xander Bogaerts was able to drive in a sliding Hernández from third to give his side their first lead of the afternoon at 5-4.

Given the fact that there was now a one-run lead to protect, Matt Barnes got the call for the ninth inning and promptly slammed the door on the Yankees to seal the comeback 5-4 victory for the Red Sox as well as his 21st save of the season.

With the win, their 32nd of the come-from-behind variety, the Red Sox secured a series victory and the season series with the Yankees to improve to 61-39 on the season. They also regained a one-game lead over the Rays for first place in the American League East.

Next up: Bring on the Blue Jays

The Red Sox will next welcome the Blue Jays into town for a four-game series that begins on Monday night.

Canadian-born right-hander Nick Pivetta is slated to get the ball for Boston in the opener, while Toronto has yet to name a starter.

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

(Picture of Kiké Hernández and Rafael Devers: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Kiké Hernández comes through in clutch as Red Sox come back to defeat Yankees, 5-4, in extras

The Red Sox were down to their final out in the ninth inning Thursday night, trailing the Yankees by a score of 3-1, and on the verge of dropping their third straight game to their division rivals.

With runners on first and second base, Kiké Hernández came to the plate having already driven in Boston’s lone run of the night. In front of him, Alex Verdugo was at second base, while Jarren Duran — pinch-running for Bobby Dalbec — represented the tying run on first base.

Matched up against Yankees reliever Chad Green, Hernández got ahead in the count at 1-0 before taking a 96 mph fastball down the heart of the plate and ripping a two-run double off the Green Monster.

Verdugo was able to easily score from second, while the speedy Duran came in all the way from first to knot things up at three runs apiece.

After Red Sox closer Matt Barnes allowed one unearned run to cross the plate in the top of the 10th despite tossing a 1-2-3 inning, Boston took advantage of a wild Brooks Kriske in their half of the frame.

The Yankees reliever began his night by throwing a pair of wild pitches that allowed Rafael Devers — who started the inning at second base — to score and tie it at 4-4 while Xander Bogaerts was at the plate.

Bogaerts himself walked, and he, too, moved up to third base on two more wild pitches from Kriske, which set up Hunter Renfroe to drive in the winning run with a sacrifice fly to right field.

With the 5-4 win, their 30th of the comeback variety this year, the Red Sox improve to 59-38 on the season while maintaining their one-game lead over the Rays for first place in the American League East.

Houck’s solid start shortened by rain

Well before all of Thursday night’s late-inning drama from Fenway Park, Tanner Houck made his third start of the season for the Red Sox, which was also his first major-league start in more than three months.

As he did out of the bullpen in the Bronx last weekend, Houck was fairly dominant against the Yankees this time around. The right-hander retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced before a pair of leadoff walks in the top of the fourth did him in, as Gleyber Torres brought in Brett Gardner on an RBI groundout to put New York ahead, 1-0, in that same inning.

Still, Houck got through the rest of the fourth unscathed and got the first two outs of the fifth before the volume of rain in the Fenway-area picked up and forced a 55-minute rain delay that would subsequently end his day prematurely.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 87 (54 strikes), the 25-year-old hurler wound up yielding just one unearned run on two hits, two walks, and eight strikeouts over 4 2/3 strong innings of work. His next start should come against the Blue Jays at Fenway next Wednesday.

After the rain delay

Following that lengthy rain delay, left-hander Josh Taylor came on in relief of Houck, got out of the fifth inning, and tossed a clean sixth inning as well.

In the process of the Red Sox bullpen taking over for Houck, the Sox offense was struggling to get anything going against Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery.

The left-hander held the Boston bats in check throughout his 5 2/3 innings of work, but they were able to finally break through in the bottom of the seventh.

There, after Darwinzon Hernandez had punched out a pair in the top of the inning, two straight one-out singles from Verdugo and Dalbec off New York reliever Lucas Luetge set something in motion.

Michael Chavis proceeded to rip a hard-hit groundball to third base that looked as though it could have gone for a double play, but Tyler Wade bobbled the baseball, thus preventing that from happening.

With the bases now loaded as the Sox lineup turned back over, Hernández came through with his first heroic of the night in scoring Verdugo on a game-tying sacrifice fly.

A Devers infield single very well could have continued the rally, but Dalbec was thrown out at home by Torres after trying to score from second, and that ended the inning.

Former Yankees reliever Adam Ottavino ran into some trouble against his old team in the top of the eighth, as he allowed the go-ahead run — and an additional run — to score thanks in part to allowing two walks, a stolen base, one hit, and one sacrifice fly off the bat of Torres that saw the Yankees go up 3-1.

Fast forward to the ninth, with Green on the hill for New York, Hernández delivered once more with that aforementioned game-tying, two-run double to left field to send this one to extras.

In the top of the 10th, Barnes yielded an unearned run in an otherwise perfect inning of relief, and would later earn his fifth win of the season when Renfroe walked it off on his sacrifice fly a half inning later.

By completing their 30th come-from-behind victory this year, the Red Sox have extended their winning streak to three consecutive games. As was previously stated, they are now 59-38 on the season, which is good for the best record in the American League.

Next up: Cole vs. Rodriguez

Friday’s starting pitching matchup between the Red Sox and Yankees will feature left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez getting the ball for Boston opposite ace right-hander Gerrit Cole for New York.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Kiké Hernández: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox crush 5 homers en route to 7-4 win to finish off sweep of Blue Jays in Buffalo

An unplanned off day on account of inclement weather in the Buffalo-area could not halt the Red Sox from pouring it on against the Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

In the final major-league game to be played at Sahlen Field this season, Boston finished off their two-game sweep of Toronto with a 7-4 victory that was powered by five home runs from five different players.

Matched up against a tough opponent in Jays left-hander Robbie Ray, a right-handed heavy Sox lineup got things started in their half of the third after not recording a hit through the first two innings.

There, a hard-hit leadoff double from Bobby Dalbec set the stage as the lineup flipped back over, and a red-hot Kiké Hernández took full advantage of that by crushing a 434-foot two-run home run to left field off an 0-2, 95 mph fastball from Ray.

Hernández’s 14th homer of the season — and third of the series — gave the Red Sox an early 2-0 lead, but Rafael Devers tacked on another with his 24th big fly of the year to lead off the top half of the fourth.

While the Sox offense was getting it done by way of the long ball against Ray, Garrett Richards was in the midst of putting together one of his better outings of the season.

Making his 19th start of the year for Boston, Richards allowed just one base hit to the first 12 Blue Jays he faced, though Vladimir Guerrero Jr. took him deep to right-center field in the fourth inning to put an end to the shutout bid.

Michael Chavis was able to get one of those runs back with a solo shot off Ray in the top half of the fifth, while Christian Vazquez plated another on an RBI single that brought in J.D. Martinez an inning later.

With a 5-1 cushion to work with now, Richards appeared to be on his way to six clean innings as he recorded the first two outs of the sixth in simple fashion.

A two-out walk of Guerrero Jr. prevented that from happening, though, and the veteran right-hander faltered even further by serving up back-to-back homers to George Springer and Teoscar Hernandez, thus allowing the Blue Jays to trim their deficit down to one run at 5-4.

Having yielded home runs to the last two hitters he faced, Richards’ night came to an end with Red Sox manager Alex Cora giving him the hook in favor of Garrett Whitlock.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 82 (55 strikes), the 33-year-old hurler wound up giving up four earned runs on four hits, one walk, and five strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings of work.

Able to pick up the win to improve to 6-5 on the season despite raising his ERA to 4.99, Richards’ next start should come against these same Blue Jays back at Fenway Park next Tuesday.

In relief of Richards, Whitlock came on, got out of the sixth, and maneuvered his way around a two-out double in an otherwise perfect seventh inning.

From there, the Boston bats responded with back-to-back home runs of their own in their half of the eighth, with Martinez and Hunter Renfroe clubbing their 20th and 15th big flies of the year for some valuable insurance that gave their side a 7-4 edge.

Adam Ottavino followed by facing the minimum three batters in the bottom half of the eighth, and Matt Barnes — making his second half debut — shut the door on the Blue Jays in the ninth to secure the 7-4 victory and notch his 20th save of the campaign.

With the win — Alex Cora’s 250th with the team — the Red Sox improve to 58-38 on the season while maintaining a one-game lead over the Rays for first place in the American League East.

Santana suffers groin injury

Danny Santana was originally starting Wednesday’s contest in left field, but was forced to exit in the seventh inning because of a tight left groin he sustained while diving for a fly ball.

The 30-year-old was replaced by Alex Verdugo in left field and seems likely to be placed back on the injured list just two days after being activated from it.

Next up: Four against the Yankees at Fenway

The Red Sox will return to Fenway Park to open up a four-game weekend series against the Yankees that begins on Thursday night.

Right-hander Tanner Houck is slated to start for Boston in the series opener, while left-hander Jordan Montgomery is in line to do the same for New York.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Kiké Hernández: Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images)

Red Sox go with right-handed heavy lineup for series finale against Robbie Ray, Blue Jays

After getting rained out on Tuesday, the Red Sox will look to complete a two-game sweep over the Blue Jays in Buffalo on Wednesday night, and they will do so with an extremely right-handed heavy starting lineup.

Boston will be matched up against Toronto left-hander Robbie Ray in Wednesday’s series finale, hence the reason for all the right-handed bats from Sox manager Alex Cora.

Ray, 29, will be making his 19th start of the season for the Jays at Sahlen Field on Wednesday. So far this year, the veteran southpaw has posted an impressive 2.31 ERA and 3.81 FIP to go along with 138 strikeouts to just 26 walks over 107 1/3 innings of work. That includes an outing against the Red Sox in which he yielded three runs on four hits, three walks, and 10 strikeouts in six innings at Fenway Park back on June 13.

In his first full season with the Blue Jays after coming over in a trade with the Diamondbacks last summer, Ray has been extremely tough against opposing left-handed hitters, as he has held them to a measly .165/.208/.308 slash line.

Against right-handed hitters, Ray has still been difficult, but not nearly to the same extent (.228/.280/.442), so it’s safe to assume those splits played a role in how Cora wrote out his lineup card ahead of Wednesday’s contest.

With that being said, Kiké Hernández will lead things off for the Red Sox, as he gets the start in center field. The switch-hitting Danny Santana will follow and flank Hernández in left field. Xander Bogaers, Rafael Devers, and J.D. Martinez comprise the 3-4-5 portion of Boston’s lineup, playing their usual positions, while Hunter Renfroe, Christian Vazquez, and Bobby Dalbec will do the same. Michael Chavis rounds things out as he will make his 13th start of the year at second base.

Devers represents the lone, pure left-handed hitter in this installment of the Red Sox lineup. Jarren Duran and Alex Verdugo, two more left-handed bats, will start this one out on the bench.

On the other side of things, right-hander Garrett Richards will oppose Ray and make his 19th start of the season for Boston.

First pitch between the 57-38 Red Sox and 48-43 Blue Jays is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Kiké Hernández : Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Jarren Duran hits first major-league homer, Kiké Hernández goes yard twice, and Hunter Renfroe mashes grand slam as Red Sox power their way to 13-4 win over Blue Jays

It turns out a lineup shakeup is exactly what the doctor ordered for the Red Sox on Monday night.

In the midst of a bit of an offensive malaise since coming out of the All-Star break, Sox manager Alex Cora changed things up with his lineup in dramatic fashion ahead of Monday’s series opener against the Blue Jays in Buffalo, and those changes proved to be quite beneficial right from the get-go.

That being the case since the Red Sox mashed six home runs in the process of cruising to a 13-4 victory over the Blue Jays at Sahlen Field.

Matched up against Toronto starter Ross Stripling, Kiké Hernández set the tone in the top of the first with a leadoff double.

Jarren Duran, inserted into the two-hole, followed by crushing his first career major-league home run — a two-run, 357-foot shot to left field that gave Boston an early 2-0 lead, but they were not done yet.

A Rafael Devers walk, J.D. Martinez double, and Alex Verdugo walk with one out brought Hunter Renfroe to the plate with the bases loaded, and the slugger obliged by unloading them on a 403-foot grand slam to left-center field. 6-0.

Stripling was given the hook after recording just one out, though Blue Jays reliever Anthony Kay did not fare much better, as he issued a two-out single to Kevin Plawecki before serving up a two-run blast to Hernández.

With Hernández, Duran, and Renfroe all going yard in the first, Monday marked the first time in franchise history that the Red Sox have ever hit three or more home runs in the first inning of a road game.

Hernández’s first of two big flies on the night put Boston up 8-0 before Toronto even had a chance to take their first at-bats, and they tacked on even more in their half of the second.

There, a solo home run off the bat of Devers — his 23rd — that was sent 392 feet to right-center field made it a 9-0 contest, while Martinez and Verdugo both reached to put runners on for Danny Santana, who laced a two-run double down the left field line to clear the bases and give his side an 11-0 advantage.

While the new-look Red Sox lineup was getting things done on their end, Nick Pivetta was making his 19th start of the season for Boston on the other side.

Despite receiving a healthy amount of run support, Pivetta certainly was not at his best in Buffalo on Monday.

After getting out of a first-inning jam thanks to a double play, the right-hander tossed two additional scoreless frames. Santana provided additional subsidence by clubbing his fourth homer of the year — a solo shot — in the top half of the fourth, giving the Red Sox a 12-0 lead, but Pivetta got knocked around somewhat in the bottom half.

A leadoff walk of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was the first harbinger of what was to come for Pivetta, while a base hit from George Springer put runners at second and third for Teoscar Hernandez, who broke up the shutout bid on an RBI groundout.

Randal Grichuk plated another on a sacrifice fly that brought in Springer, Cavan Biggio unloaded on a first-pitch fastball from Pivetta that he sent 390 feet into the right field seats, and Bo Bichette — with the bases full in front of him — tapped an RBI single a mere three feet down the third base line to make it a 12-4 contest.

Hernández got one of those runs back in Boston’s half of the sixth, as he took Toronto reliever Taylor Saucedo 382 feet deep to left field on a line-drive that left his bat at 108 mph.

With his his second big fly of the night, the 29-year-old reached the 500-hit mark for his big-league career.

Pivetta, after escaping a laborious fourth inning, came back out for the fifth and rebounded a bit by retiring six of the next nine Blue Jays he faced, but his evening did come to an end when he gave up a one-out single to Springer in the seventh to put runners at first and second.

Instead of having his starter attempt to finish the inning, Cora turned to Hirokazu Sawamura out of the bullpen, and the righty answered the call by getting Grichuk to fly out to Verdugo in left for the third and final out of the frame.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 108 (75 strikes), Pivetta wound up allowing four runs — all earned — on a season-high 11 hits, two walks, one hit batsman, and four strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings of work.

The 28-year-old hurler was able to improve to 8-4 on the year, though he did raise his ERA up to 4.37. His next start should come against the Yankees back at Fenway Park on Sunday.

From the middle of the seventh inning on, Darwinzon Hernandez took over for Sawamura, and the lefty rebounded from a tough weekend in the Bronx by punching out a pair in a perfect inning of relief.

Adam Ottavino, meanwhile, made his first relief appearance since July 11, and the veteran righty shut the door on the Jays with a scoreless ninth to preserve a 13-4 win for the Red Sox.

With the win, the Sox snap a two-game skid to improve to 57-38 on the season while also moving to 1 1/2 games ahead of the Rays for first place in the American League East.

Next up: Richards vs. TBD

The Red Sox will look to do something against the Blue Jays on Tuesday that they haven’t done in a while, and that’s win a series.

Right-hander Garrett Richards will get the start for Boston in the middle game of this three-game set, while Toronto has yet to name a starter.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts and Jarren Duran: Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Kiké Hernández, J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers all homer as Red Sox power their way to 11-5 win over Phillies

After a 3-3 West Coast road trip, it’s safe to say the Red Sox enjoyed being back at Fenway Park on Friday night.

Boston tallied 11 runs on 14 hits en route to an 11-5 victory over the Phillies to kick off their final series before the All-Star break.

With the win, their ninth straight at Fenway going back to June 14, the Sox improve to 55-34 (28-17 at home) on the season. They remain 2 1/2 games up on the Rays for first place in the American League East.

Garrett Richards made his 18th start of the season for Boston on Friday, and it initially looked as though he would not be long for this one.

That being the case because the right-hander got rocked by the Phillies out of the gate, with Jean Segura and J.T. Realmuto leading things off in their half of the first with a hard-hit triple and double to put the Sox in an early 1-0 hole.

The Red Sox were able to counter that early barrage, however, as Enrique Hernandez came through with a towering solo home run off Phillies starter Vince Velasquez to lead off the bottom half of the first while Hunter Renfroe plated in another run with an RBI groundout later in the inning.

Even with that brand new one-run lead, though, Richards again got knocked around in the second, this time yielding back-to-back singles with no outs to Rhys Hoskins and Didi Gregorius before serving up a two-run base hit to Alec Bohm to make it a 3-2 contest in favor of Philadelphia.

Again, the Boston bats showed just how resilient they can be a half-inning later, as Bobby Dalbec laced a one-out doube off Velasquez, Alex Verdugo followed by drawing a two-out walk, and a red-hot J.D. Martinez drove in both runners by crushing a 400-foot three-run home run to right-center field.

Martinez’s 18th big fly of the year gave the Red Sox a 5-3 lead, but they added even more on to that in their half of the third.

There, Rafael Devers followed Martinez’s example by clubbing his 22nd homer of the season to lead off the frame, while a double off the bat of Renfroe and run-scoring single off the bat of Christian Vazquez increased the Sox’ advantage to four runs.

Following a pitching change that saw Enyel De Los Santos take over for Velasquez, the Red Sox did not let up, as Dalbec advanced Vazquez into scoring position with a single of his own and back-to-back two-out hits from Verdugo and Martinez resulted in two more Boston runs coming in to score, making it a 9-3 game all of the sudden.

With that sizable six-run cushion, Richards was able to settle in and finish his outing on a more positive note by sitting down eight of the final 11 hitters he faced over three scoreless innings from the third through the middle of the fifth, at which point his nigh came to a close.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 85 (57 pitches), the 33-year-old hurler wraps up his first half having allowed three runs — all of which were earned — on seven hits and one walk to go along with four strikeouts in the process of picking up his fifth win of the year. His ERA on the season now sits at 4.91.

After Richards recorded the final out of the top half of the fifth, his catcher — Vazquez — led off the bottom half by drawing a four-pitch walk off Phillies reliever Brandon Kintzler.

That would later prove to be costly for Philadelphia, as Hernandez drove in Vazquez on a hard-hit RBI double later in the inning to give his side a commanding 10-3 lead.

Vazquez struck once more in the sixth, this time greeting newly-inserted reliever Connor Brogdon by ripping a run-scoring single to right field that brought in Xander Bogaerts from second, making it an 11-3 game.

In relief of Richards, Yacksel Rios got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen for the sixth inning and sat down the only three Phillies he faced in order.

Matt Andriese, however, saw his recent struggles continue, as he surrendered two runs on two hits and a walk in the top half of the seventh to trim Boston’s lead down to six runs at 11-5.

From there, though, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez punched out a pair over the course of a scoreless eighth inning, while Brandon Workman shut the door on his former team in the ninth to preserve the 11-5 victory for the Red Sox.

Some notes from this win:

From Red Sox Notes:

Next up: Moore vs. Perez

Saturday’s starting pitching matchup between the Phillies and Red Sox will feature a pair of veteran southpaws and former Texas Rangers rotation-mates going at it, with left-hander Matt Moore getting the ball for Philadelphia and fellow lefty Martin Perez doing the same for Boston.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Christian Arroyo among American League’s top defensive second basemen this season

Christian Arroyo had it lined up perfectly.

With the game on the line with two outs in the bottom half of the ninth inning against the Angels on Monday night, Arroyo positioned himself in shallow right field as the dangerous left-handed hitting Shohei Ohtani stepped up to the plate.

In a contest in which Boston was barely clinging on to a one-run lead, Adam Ottavino found himself in one hell of a spot after already allowing a run to score in the last half of the ninth.

With Sox closer Matt Barnes unavailable, it was up to Ottavino to take on Ohtani with runners at first and second, meaning the game was very much in the right-hander’s hands.

After falling behind in the count at 3-1, Ottavino delivered an 80 mph slider to Ohtani that hung out over the heart of the plate. Ohtani, in response, laced a 101.3 mph grounder that had an expected batting average of .910, would have made it into right field, and at the very least scored the tying run if the Red Sox infield was playing traditional defense.

Instead, Arroyo — the second baseman — was playing Ohtani to pull the ball, and that move paid off when the two-way phenom’s screamer was hit right to him on a hop.

Arroyo needed all of a fraction of a second to corral the ball and make the throw over to an awaiting Bobby Dalbec at first base, which in turn secured a 5-4 series-opening win for the Sox at Angel Stadium.

“I knew he was over there,” Ottavino said of Arroyo Monday night. “I always check the shifts, but part of the reason why I wanted to stay breaking ball there is so that if anything, he would pull it, because I knew all our guys were over there. And Christian’s really good at those plays. That’s a tough ball, it’s hit hard with topspin. I was like, ‘Just stop it.’ And he did, so it was beautiful.”

Arroyo’s game-saving play on Monday is just the latest instance of how well he has handled things at second base since the start of the season.

The 26-year-old infielder came into play Thursday having logged 321 innings at second base across 46 games so far this year.

Among the 15 American League second basemen who have played at least 300 innings at the position in 2021, Arroyo — as of Thursday morning — ranks third in Defensive Runs Saved (3), second in Ultimate Zone Rating (2.1), first in Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games (9.4), and third in Defense (2.7), according to FanGraphs.

While Baseball Savant may not exactly favor Arroyo’s defensive efforts (0 Outs Above Average), it goes without saying that the 6-foot-1, 217 pound right-handed thrower has provided the Sox with a reliable presence at second base in his first full season with the club.

Arroyo flourishing in the infield has also benefitted Boston in other areas, as Kiké Hernández — who originally signed with the intentions of being the team’s everyday second baseman — has emerged as one of the more productive defensive centerfielders in the American League.

That being the case because Hernández came into play Thursday, an off day for the Red Sox, having recorded the most outfield assists among all AL centerfielders (5) while putting up 9 Defensive Runs Saved, which is the second-highest amount among outfielders in the AL behind only the Rays’ Brett Phillips, who has 11.

“We always said that when we had the lead, he was going to end up playing second base. It’s just that the other guys stepped up at that base,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said in regards to Hernández on Monday. “That play by Christian (Arroyo) at the end was great. We’ve been able to turn double plays with Marwin (Gonzalez), Christian (Arroyo), and Michael (Chavis), so we’re very comfortable with them at second base. The way he has been playing center field, it’s above average.

“The fact they have to respect their arms, all of them out there, we can shut the running game down just because of who they are. It’s a plus for us,” added Cora.

On paper, the Red Sox may be one of the worst defensive teams in Major League Baseball in terms number of errors committed (60) and fielding percentage (.981), but the fact of the matter is that they are still getting key contributions from a plethora of players in the infield and outfield, including both Arroyo and Hernández.

Red Sox blow pair of late 2-run leads, see 8-game winning streak snapped in 7-6 loss to Athletics in 12 innings

The Red Sox began their eight-game winning streak the night after a soul-crushing 1-0 loss to the Rays on June 24.

After stringing together eight consecutive victories from June 25 through July 2, it just so happened that the Sox’ winning ways were abrupted by yet another back-breaking defat at the hands of the Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum on Saturday night, though this one came in the form of a 7-6 loss in 12 innings.

Garrett Richards made his 17th start of the season for Boston to begin things on Saturday, and he stumbled out of the gate a bit by walking and beaming the first two hitters he faced before yielding a run-scoring triple to Sean Murphy an inning later.

The Red Sox offense was able to pick up Richards, however, and they did so on account of some sloppy defense from the Athletics.

Matched up against Oakland starter Cole Irvin, Xander Bogaerts proved to be the catalyst for a two-run top of the fourth by reaching base on a fielding error committed by second baseman Tony Kemp.

Bogaerts advanced up to second on a hard-hit single from Rafael Devers and was also able to score all the way from there on a throwing error on a failed pickoff move from catcher Sean Murphy.

That same miscue allowed Devers to move up to third, and he scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Hunter Renfroe to give Boston their first lead of the night at 2-1.

The Sox and A’s traded blows over the next few innings, with J.D. Martinez ripping an RBI single in the fifth, and Richards serving up a pair of hits to the first two hitters he faced in the sixth, resulting in Frank Schwindel driving in Matt Chapman and Red Sox manager Alex Cora giving the right-hander the hook.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 92 (60 strikes), Richards wound up surrendering two earned runs on five hits, three walks, and just two strikeouts over five-plus innings of work. The 33-year-old hurler did not factor into the decision, though he did lower his ERA on the season to 4.88.

In relief of Richards, Hirokazu Sawamura was inserted into somewhat of a jam in the bottom of the sixth, but he escaped said jam on just 12 pitches.

From there, Kiké Hernández provided what at the time was much-needed insurance in the seventh when he clubbed a solo home run — his 10th of the season — off Irvin to put Boston ahead at 4-2.

The Athletics countered with two runs of their own in the eighth, though, as they took advantage of the fact that the Red Sox were without two of their high-leverage relievers in Garrett Whitlock and Matt Barnes.

Instead, after Josh Taylor tossed a scoreless seventh inning to extend his scoreless appearances streak to 25 straight games, Yacksel Rios got the call for the eighth, and he allowed a run to score while also put the tying run on base on a pair of hits before getting pulled in favor of Darwninzon Hernandez.

Hernandez issued a one-out walk to Kemp, which brought Elvis Andrus to the plate in a prime scoring spot, and he did just that by plating the tying run in Seth Brown on a line-drive single to right field. 4-4.

Boston threatened in their half of the ninth when the pinch-hitting Marwin Gonzalez reached base on a one-out walk off Oakland reliever Lou Trivino, but he — representing the potential go-ahead run — was gunned down at second base by Murphy on a failed stolen base attempt.

With no Barnes, Adam Ottavino was responsible for the ninth. The veteran right-hander did allow the winning run to reach base on a leadoff single from Chapman, but retired the next three A’s he faced in 1-2-3 fashion to strand that all important runner and send this one to extras.

In extras, Danny Santana represented the go-ahead run for the Sox in the 10th since he recorded the final out of ninth. Like Gonzalez, Santana had the chance to create offense with his legs, but he was instead thrown out while trying to swipe third base.

The A’s ran into an out themselves in the 10th, however, as Brandon Workman first put himself in a bases loaded jam before recording the first out of the frame on a poorly-executed bunt from Kemp.

Workman proceeded to get Andrus to line out to Martinez in left field, and the runner at third (Murphy) made a poor decision in taking off for home since he was thrown out at the plate by Martinez, who was doing his best (Kiké) Hernández impression in notching his team’s league-leading 26th outfield assist of the season.

That clutch double play sent this one to the 11th, where the Boston bats went down in order and Workman again maneuvered his way around a sticky situation by inducing two fly outs and a ground out.

Gonzalez made up for his baserunning blunder in his side’s half of the 12th, as he plated Devers from second on a then go-ahead single off A’s reliever and former Red Sox farmhand J.B. Wendelken before scoring himself on another RBI single courtesy of Hernández.

Again, the Red Sox found themselves in possession of a two-run lead at 6-4, but they were unable to hang on to said lead while simultaneously being down to their last available reliever in Matt Andriese.

Andriese failed to record a single out in the bottom half of the 12th, as the veteran righty yielded three straight hits to the likes of Murphy, Brown, and old friend Jed Lowrie to knot things up at six runs apiece.

He then got Kemp to fly out to center field, but despite Hernández’s best efforts, the ball was hit deep enough to bring in Brown from third base and give the A’s a 7-6 come-from-behind win in 12 innings.

Andriese was charged with the loss and blown save while also inflating his ERA on the year to 5.70.

With the crushing loss, the Red Sox see their eight-game winning streak come to an end and fall to 52-32 on the season, though they remain four games up on the Rays for first place in the American League East.

Next up for the Red Sox, they will send right-hander Nick Pivetta to the mound on Sunday afternoon as they go for the series win over the A’s, who will counter with fellow righty James Kaprielian.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 4:07 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Tony Kemp: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)