BOSTON -- A triple play, an eight-run rally and a strong pitching performance by Rick Porcello made for a satisfying Tuesday night for the Fenway faithful, as the Red Sox rolled to a 10-4 victory over the the Cardinals in the opener of a two-game series between two of the game's most historic franchises.
It was the 11th win in the last 13 games for the Red Sox, who maintained their 4 1/2-game lead over the Yankees in the American League East. The Cardinals have lost two straight on the heels of an eight-game winning streak that briefly thrust them to the top of the National League Central but still trail the Cubs by only 1 1/2 games.
With Boston clinging to a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth, the Cardinals had runners at first and second and nobody out. But things changed quickly, as Yadier Molina hit a grounder to third. Rafael Devers needed just one step to tag the bag for the force, then he fired to second for the second out and Eduardo Nunez completed the triple play by throwing to first baseman Mitch Moreland. It was the first triple play by the Red Sox since Aug. 16, 2011, against the Rays.
"First of all, the presence of mind of Raffy, knowing the speed of the runner," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "You could understand if a less experienced guy would have stepped on the bag and thrown across the diamond to first, but to go into Nuney at second with a potential to turn it, the dugout was calling for it as soon as it was off the bat, the type of ground ball it was. It was obviously an exciting play."
In the bottom of the fifth, Boston broke it open with a batting barrage that included eight hits. Slumping shortstop Xander Bogaerts helped lead the offense with a three-hit night. Nunez, Moreland and Hanley Ramirez each had two hits.
"You want to do good, you want to do good to help your team, and sometimes you feel like you're not doing anything and you're letting them down," said Bogaerts. "This game is a game that can beat you up quick. You've got to continue battling, continue fighting through it. Nights like this, just enjoy it. Try to gain momentum from this."
Porcello allowed eight hits and three runs over seven innings, walking two and striking out six.
"He wasn't making a lot of mistakes in the middle of the plate, and he was controlling the count with everything," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Porcello. "If he was missing, it was off the plate. He just had one of those days where everything was working."
Mike Leake had a tough start for the Cards, giving up nine hits and eight earned runs in 4 1/3 innings.
"I think I was just too much on the plate, letting them hit balls instead of making them see it move off the plate," said Leake, who had allowed eight earned runs in a start just twice previously. "Teams have been pretty aggressive against me down in the zone lately."
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Quieted for most of the night offensively, the Cardinals did score three in the top of the sixth, getting a two-run double from William Fowler and an RBI single by Carson Kelly.
With the Sox leading, 1-0, in the fourth, Randal Grichuk made a five-star catch, according to Statcast™, to rob Sandy Leon of extra bases.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Turning three: The roar from the crowd was a clear indication that something special had just happened. Triple plays don't happen often. This was the 31st in Red Sox history. The fact that the slow-footed Molina was running helped make it possible. According to Statcast™, he went home to first in five seconds. Devers and Nunez also had quick releases on their throws. Molina also hit the ball that resulted in the last triple play the Cardinals hit into on May 9, 2015, though that one was a lineout.
"First thing that went through my mind was just to touch third base and throw as hard as I possibly could to second base to hopefully get a double play and maybe a triple play," said Devers, who also started a triple play for Class A Salem last year.
Bogaerts chips in during big rally: During that barrage by the Red Sox in the bottom of the fifth, perhaps the most encouraging development was the RBI single by Bogaerts. It was the first RBI for Bogaerts since July 21. Entering Tuesday's game, Bogaerts was hitting .186 with four extra-base hits since the All-Star break.
"I've been swinging the bat pretty well lately with nothing to show for it but ups and downs -- some consistent at-bats, some are not," said Bogaerts. "Hopefully we can gather momentum from this and keep on going."
"As soon as the ball was hit, I knew it was going to be taking Raf to the bag. For him to have the presence of mind to take it and then throw to second, that's what started it. Everyone was pretty fired up about it. It just worked out perfectly." -- Moreland, on the triple play
"Talking about the field itself, the city, it's a great place to play. Just personally not a whole lot of great memories. -- Matheny, whose previous trips to Fenway Park include losses in the 2004 and '13 World Series
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The eight-run fifth inning was the biggest by the Red Sox at Fenway Park since Sept. 5, 2015, against the Phillies. This was the third time this season the Sox have scored 10 or more runs without the benefit of a home run.
FROM THE TRAINER'S ROOM
Andrew Benintendi was hit on the left knee by a pitch in the bottom of the fifth and was taken out of the game when the Red Sox took the field in the sixth. It was precautionary, and the left fielder hopes to play on Wednesday.
Cardinals:Lance Lynn will start for the Cardinals as they wrap up their visit to Fenway Park with a 6:10 p.m. CT game on Wednesday. Lynn made two appearances against the Red Sox in the 2013 World Series and is 0-1 with a 2.08 ERA in two regular-season starts against Boston.
Red Sox: Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez takes the ball in Wednesday's 7:10 p.m. ET finale of this two-game series. Prior to the game, the Red Sox will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Impossible Dream team of 1967 that lost to the Cardinals in a seven-game World Series. The ceremony will be streamed live on redsox.com.
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