BOSTON -- In an Interleague battle of East divisional leaders, it was the Red Sox who took the first game of their three-game set versus Atlanta, 6-2, by way of the long ball.The Braves took the early advantage, getting to Eduardo Rodriguez when Nick Markakis plated two with a double
BOSTON -- In an Interleague battle of East divisional leaders, it was the Red Sox who took the first game of their three-game set versus Atlanta, 6-2, by way of the long ball.
The Braves took the early advantage, getting to Eduardo Rodriguez when Nick Markakis plated two with a double in the top of the third inning for a 2-0 lead.
Though Boston's bats were dormant early versus Julio Teheran, registering just one hit through the first three innings, they figured out the Braves starter and homered their way right back into it.
Leading off the fourth, slugger J.D. Martinez connected on his 16th home run of the season, a missile which scraped the top of the front ledge of the Green Monster and momentarily pulled him even with teammate Mookie Betts for the Major League home run lead.
Two batters later Xander Bogaerts would go the extra mile, clearing everything in left field with a projected 381-foot blast, according to Statcast™, that exited the park and landed on Landsdowne Street, pulling the Red Sox even at 2.
Boston would pull ahead in the fifth when Andrew Benintendi scored Jackie Bradley Jr., who hit a one-out triple to the triangle, with a sacrifice fly to center field.
Betts gave Boston some breathing room with his 17th home run, a two-run shot in the seventh inning, and Mitch Moreland cleaned things up with a 443-foot solo blast to dead center in the eighth to cap the long-ball party
"It's good to see," said manager Alex Cora. "I do think that although sometimes we expand the strike zone, we're staying aggressive regardless of the count. Seeing a lot of two-strike homers. That's good to see. They did damage. They're doing a good job of it. Just hope we can continue it."
"Today, I don't think we had a ton of hits. But the ones we did have counted," Moreland added. "It's nice to never feel like you're out of the game. One swing of the bat can get you right back in it. It's a lot easier to put up crooked numbers that way. Hopefully we continue to build on that."
Rodriguez, who allowed six hits over the first three innings, settled in after the third, striking out four and allowing just two walks over the next 2 2/3 frames.
For his efforts, the left-hander was rewarded with his fifth win of the season after striking out seven in his 5 2/3 innings.
"I'm just thinking right now I've got to work on getting deeper in games," Rodriguez said. "Overall, it was really good, and all my pitches were working really good."
"He was working on that cutter to lefties, and he was getting away with it," said Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte. "That inning we scored the two runs, I felt it was a good time to score more runs. We put a good swing on it and couldn't find the holes. He did a good job tonight."
Teheran proved the tough-luck loser on the night after allowing only four hits over six innings.
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
While the four home runs were certainly key to the Red Sox's victory, a hit that came up one base short proved to be tantamount toward the cause. In the bottom of the fifth, with the game tied at 2 and one out, Bradley roped a first-pitch fastball to the triangle in center field and would come around to score the decisive run.
"We do feel offensively we're going to be better," said Cora. "There are certainly guys that struggle the first part of the season, but they're working at it and getting better. You can see the progress with Jackie."
• This was the fourth time this season that Boston had four or more home runs in a game and third straight home game in which they hit at least three. They are 19-4 in games with multiple home runs this year.
• Over the last six games, the Red Sox's bullpen has not allowed a run in 18 1/3 innings.
HE SAID IT
"You ever see the Dragon Ball? We call them Goku and Vegeta. They do something crazy every time they go out there." -- Rodriguez, on what the team has been calling Martinez and Betts of late, referencing the Japanese anime show Dragon Ball Z
The Red Sox will continue their three-game set versus the team that they shared this city with, albeit some time ago. Middleboro, Mass., native Sean Newcomb will make his Fenway Park debut Saturday at 1:05 p.m. ET for the Braves against the team he grew up rooting for. Boston will counter with Thomas Pomeranz, who has been unable to make it past four innings in each of his last two starts.
Craig Forde is a contributor to MLB.com based in Boston.