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Underdog to key cog: Holt sparking Boston

ATLANTA -- Brock Holt is no longer the scrappy underdog. Like the man he replaced in the Red Sox's lineup in Thursday night's 5-2 win, Holt's heroics are now expected.

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Filling in for Dustin Pedroia (left knee) in the leadoff spot and at second base for the second time in three days, Holt once again put together a standout performance. He didn't hit for the cycle this time. But Holt did go 2-for-4 with a walk and three runs scored. There was also a brilliant play on defense, when Holt dove to take a hit away from Cameron Maybin.

Video: [email protected]: Holt flashes the leather with diving stop

"There's a lot of people that didn't know who Brock Holt was last year, and he's one of the best players on our club," said Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz, who earned the win.

The Red Sox had three run-scoring rallies on Thursday, and Holt started all of them.

In the fourth, he clubbed a triple to center. Later in the inning, Holt scored the first run of the game.

"Just stick with my same approach," Holt said. "I try to do that regardless of where I'm hitting in the lineup. You're only a leadoff hitter one time. You'd like to see some pitches early but you're also ready to hit in case they make a mistake."

Two innings later, Holt was at it again, leading off with a single up the middle. He wound up scoring one of Boston's three runs in the frame.

Video: [email protected]: Holt races home to score on double-play ball

Just as important as Holt's two hits was the two-out walk to get the Red Sox going in the seventh. When Mookie Betts clubbed a double into the gap, Holt scored all the way from first.

Video: [email protected]: Betts rips a double to add insurance run

Over the last 13 games, Holt is hitting .408 with seven extra-base hits.

"You look at the last, I don't know, dozen games or so, and he's done such a great job of getting on base, swinging the bat the way he is, [getting] extra-base hits," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "He makes a couple key plays defensively, especially that final out of the seventh inning. He's done such a great job for us wherever we put him. He's almost become kind of an invaluable guy to us."

Ian Browne is a reporter for
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