BOSTON -- On the 55th birthday of Red Sox manager John Farrell, Mitch Moreland decided to give his skipper his present a little bit late.
In his first at-bat of the game, Moreland sent a home run to the opposite field to the far reaches of the Green Monster to secure a 3-2 Red Sox win in 11 innings. Moreland was brought in as a defensive replacement at first base in the 10th inning.
"Obviously, for me it's the first at-bat of the game, and I'm trying to go in there and slow it down a little bit," Moreland said. "Try to get a good pitch. I kind of rushed myself on the 2-0, but was able to slow it down and stay on it and get a breaking ball there and put a good swing on it."
The win, which increased first-place Boston's lead over the Yankees in the American League East to three games, was Farrell's 400th as manager of the Red Sox. The walk-off was also the 10th extra-inning win for Boston this season, which leads the American League.
"I think it can have some momentum, there's no doubt," Farrell said of his team's extra-inning wins. "Let's face it: We've been pretty accustomed to playing extra-inning games. I don't know if that makes us any more comfortable or relaxed, but we've found ourselves in that position many times."
Boston reliever Richard Hembree survived a White Sox threat in the top of the 11th, with catcher Christian Vazquez picking off Nicky Delmonico, who had a big lead at second base in scoring position, for the second out of the inning.
"When Vazqy took the guy off second, that took a lot of pressure off," Hembree said. "I was pretty much able to attack the next guy and the single doesn't score a run. It made my job a little bit easier."
The White Sox drew first blood, with Delmonico cranking a two-run, two-out double off of the Green Monster in the fourth inning to make the score 2-0.The rookie has been enjoying his time at Fenway this week, as he hit his first career home run on Thursday.
The Red Sox answered in the fifth and sixth innings, putting up a run in each to crawl their way back in the low-scoring affair.
For the second outing in a row, White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon (1-4, 4.66 ERA) was prepared for whatever the opposing offense had for him. Rodon struck out 11 batters in 7 2/3 innings, allowing six hits and two runs. The lefty has struck out at least nine in each of his last three starts.
"Just attack," said Rodon of his night. "It's something [pitching coach Don Cooper] and I worked on. The catcher is back there reminding me what I needed to do and what my key is. That really helped out."
Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (4-3, 4.08 ERA) had his best start since returning from the disabled list, striking out five, while allowing four hits and two runs in six innings of work. He was stuck with the no-decision after a career-high 117 pitches, but his six complete innings are the most since he was sidelined with a right knee subluxation.
"I thought he pitched more free," Farrell said. "His lower half in his delivery, I thought he was more fluid. I thought he had a feel for his secondary pitches tonight. I think his fastball had a little bit better of life. I thought it was a step forward for him to give us six innings even though the pitch count was climbing a little bit."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Nunez moonshot ties game: With the Red Sox offense needing a sign of life in the sixth inning, who else to provide the spark than Eduardo Nunez? Boston's newest offensive acquisition continued his stellar first homestand at Fenway Park, blasting a solo home run over the Green Monster to tie the game at 2. Per Statcast™, the ball went a projected 381 feet and was hit with an exit velocity of 97.9 mph.
Kimbrel throws what he knows, escapes jam: In the top of the ninth inning and the score deadlocked at 2-2, Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel found himself in a sticky situation. The right-hander allowed back-to-back singles to Yoan Moncada and Delmonico to start the inning, and was forced to get three outs with no room for error. The closer stayed with what he knows, relying on his fastball to dig his way out of any hole. After a sacrifice bunt by Adam Engel, Kimbrel got out of the inning by striking out both Yolmer Sanchez and Tim Anderson swinging.
"I think he started to elevate pitches where he's best to get some swing and miss, and that's up," Farrell said.
"Very solid game. We had a lot of positives. Delmonico, Moncada. We had some good at-bats across the board."-- White Sox manager Rick Renteria, on finding bright spots in his team's 17th loss in 20 games since the All-Star break
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Delmonico is the second White Sox player since 1913 to record two multi-RBI games within his first four career contests, joining Zeke Bonura in 1934 (also two).
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
With men on first and second in the 11th inning, Hembree corralled a potential sacrifice bunt attempt by Engel. The reliever opted to go for the force play at third, but Moncada was ruled safe diving into the bag. After Farrell challenged the play, the call was overturned and Moncada was ruled out. The review lasted 35 seconds.
"I knew he was bunting, so I thought I'm going to get off the mound and go to third, and if he's safe then I'll work from there," Hembree said. "I was sold out on going to third the whole time."
White Sox: Right-hander James Shields (2-3, 6.19 ERA) makes his 12th start of the season Saturday at Fenway Park at 6:10 p.m. CT. Shields is 1-3 with an 8.10 ERA in eight starts since returning from the disabled list. He is 9-13 over 27 career starts against the Red Sox.
Red Sox: Left-hander Thomas Pomeranz (10-4, 3.46 ERA) will go for a career-high fifth straight decision win when he takes the mound on Saturday at 7:10 p.m. ET. The Red Sox have won nine of Pomeranz's last 13 starts. In his last start against the White Sox on May 31, Pomeranz earned the win after allowing just one run over seven innings.
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