BOSTON -- A new-look lineup, which now has Mitch Moreland playing most days and Dustin Pedroia back from the disabled list, will be even more dangerous if Andrew Benintendi continues to belt the ball around Fenway Park like he did while leading the charge for the Red Sox in Saturday's
BOSTON -- A new-look lineup, which now has Mitch Moreland playing most days and Dustin Pedroia back from the disabled list, will be even more dangerous if Andrew Benintendi continues to belt the ball around Fenway Park like he did while leading the charge for the Red Sox in Saturday's 8-6 victory over the Braves.
Benintendi ripped a solo homer to center in the fourth to draw his team within a run and later cranked a triple into the corner in right to give the Red Sox some insurance. The outfielder was a double shy of the cycle, while going 3-for-4 and scoring twice.
It was an enjoyable day for Benintendi, considering he came in hitless in his previous eight at-bats.
"Great," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "We had a talk before the game, [and Andrew said] he didn't feel right at the plate lately. He walked three times [in his start against Tampa Bay on Wednesday]. That's a good sign. As long as he stays in the zone, he's fine. He did it early in the season and kind of struggled chasing pitches, but now he's back. The swing's right there, so we're very confident with him."
Overall, Benintendi is trending upward, hitting .400 (14-for-35) with four homers and 12 RBIs in his last 10 games.
"I feel like it's either zero hits right now or multi-hit games," said Benintendi. "But I don't look too much into it. I just try and go up there and get a hit every single time. But, obviously, it's not going to happen."
For the second day in a row, Moreland justified the faith the Red Sox showed in him after they designated Hanley Ramirez for assignment. Moreland smashed a triple and two-run double.
"I don't really feel any extra responsibility," said Moreland. "I get to go out and play the game I love and come in every day ready to do that."
The strong performances by Benintendi and Moreland helped Boston prevail despite another rough outing from Thomas Pomeranz, who lasted just 3 1/3 innings while throwing 89 pitches. Pomeranz allowed six hits and five runs while walking three and striking out three.
It was the lefty's third consecutive start of four innings or fewer, as his ERA rose to 6.75. Cora said after the game that Pomeranz will make his next scheduled start at Houston on Thursday.
Steven Wright, a candidate to replace Pomeranz in the rotation if the Red Sox decide to make a switch, pitched three scoreless innings to earn the win.
"My goal, I've already established that, is to help us get back into games," said Wright. "So, for me, right now, like I've said since 2013, it doesn't matter if I'm starting or relieving, I'm just going to go out there and make quality pitches and change speeds on the knuckleball and go as deep into games as I can -- whether it is relieving or starting."
In his 2018 debut, Pedroia went 0-for-4 with a walk but scored a run during a three-run rally by diving head-first into home. The veteran second baseman got a loud standing ovation as he stepped in for his first at-bat in the bottom of the first.
The win put the Red Sox (36-16) 20 games above .500 for the first time this season.
As for the Braves, two of their two most talented youngsters produced on the big Fenway stage. Dansby Swanson belted a solo homer against Pomeranz and also made a couple of nice plays at shortstop. Ronald Acuna Jr. smoked a 97.2-mph heater from Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel for a solo shot in the ninth.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Wright Move: With the Red Sox down, 5-4, after four, Cora picked just the right time to go to Wright. The knuckleballer had the Braves off-balance throughout his outing, throwing 26 of his 40 pitches for strikes. The righty stabilized the game and allowed Boston's bats to seize the momentum for good.
"Steven Wright was the one who stopped us," said Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman. "You don't face a knuckleballer too often. We got to Drew and got him out of the game. But they had a stopper and the right guy to stop us. We were able to score some runs, but we weren't able to hold them down today."
The Red Sox continue to thrive during Interleague Play, as Saturday's win was their ninth straight against a National League opponent. At 231-156 (.597), the Red Sox have the highest all-time winning percentage in Interleague Play since its inception in 1997.
HE SAID IT
"I was just having trouble getting off my back leg today. I think one of the things I've been searching for this whole time is, I'm missing the drive off my back leg, and that's what I had last year. When I'd get in a jam, I'd bring out 93, 94, 95 [mph], and I don't have that right now. Even my curveball. Everything is just a few miles an hour off. It's a pretty good indicator that something key is missing there, that some attachment between my upper and lower body is just not firing right now." -- Pomeranz
The Red Sox send ace Chris Sale (5-1, 2.17 ERA) to the mound for Sunday's finale of this three-game series against the Braves. Sale was powerful in his last start, striking out nine and allowing one earned run over 7 2/3 innings. This is just his second career start against the Braves. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET. The Braves, trying to avoid a sweep, counter with righty Mike Foltynewicz (3-3, 2.72).
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.