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Nunez hits 3-run HR in 1st as Sox strike early

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- Eduardo Nunez was poking fun at himself on Friday afternoon, noting he had only one hit off a fastball in the first 11 games of the season.

But it was Nunez who turned on heat at the most opportune time in Friday night's 7-3 victory over the Orioles, clocking a three-run homer against struggling Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman with two outs in the bottom of the first.

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BOSTON -- Eduardo Nunez was poking fun at himself on Friday afternoon, noting he had only one hit off a fastball in the first 11 games of the season.

But it was Nunez who turned on heat at the most opportune time in Friday night's 7-3 victory over the Orioles, clocking a three-run homer against struggling Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman with two outs in the bottom of the first.

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Just like that, the Red Sox had a 4-1 lead on a night they would improve to 11-2 for the first time since 1918.

"I just hit one fastball for a base hit this year [before Friday], and it was against Tampa Bay on Sunday," Nunez said. "And this was my second one. All the hitting this year for base hits were a slider or a changeup."

As an offense, the Red Sox have made it a habit to jump out quick of late. In their past three wins, they've held a lead of at least four runs by the third inning.

It is a good way to play when you have a starting rotation that is 8-1 with a 1.97 ERA.

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"Yeah, our starting has been huge for us," Nunez said. "They just keep the game in line all the time so there's a great opportunity for the offense to pick it up a little bit."

Perhaps overshadowed a bit by the stellar starting pitching, the offense has been prodigious for the Red Sox of late.

Over the past six games, they've outscored the opponent, 52-27. During that same span, they've scored six runs or more in each game.

"They keep grinding at-bats," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "We don't swing and miss too much. It actually looks like we can do damage with two strikes. They're still hunting for good pitches, trying to stay off the edges of the strike zone."

It seems to be someone different each night coming up with the big hit. This time it was Nunez, who belted his second homer of the season, but first that left the park. Who could forget Nunez roaring around the bases at Tropicana Field with that inside-the-park homer on Opening Day?

"That feels good, I hit a homer and didn't have to run 100 percent to home plate," Nunez said. "That feels better."

Though not necessarily known for his power, Nunez clubbed eight homers in 38 games with the Red Sox in 2017 after being acquired in a trade with the Giants in July.

Nunez has been holding down second base for the Red Sox with Dustin Pedroia on the disabled list. Pedroia is expected to be out until at least next month.

The Red Sox re-signed Nunez to a one-year contract on Feb. 18. The deal includes a player option for next season.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Eduardo Nunez