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Porcello chips in with arm, bat as Sox win series

Starter pitches five innings of one-run ball, singles and scores run
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

ATLANTA -- Call him the two-way threat.

No Boston pitcher has had more fun in National League parks this season than Rick Porcello, who once again chipped in with his arm and bat to lead the Red Sox (96-44) to a 5-1 victory over the Braves on Tuesday night at SunTrust Park.

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ATLANTA -- Call him the two-way threat.

No Boston pitcher has had more fun in National League parks this season than Rick Porcello, who once again chipped in with his arm and bat to lead the Red Sox (96-44) to a 5-1 victory over the Braves on Tuesday night at SunTrust Park.

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It was Porcello who tamed the Braves early, buying time for his offense to get going. And it was also Porcello who came up with the line-drive single to right that ignited a three-run rally in the fifth.

"He battled, he grinded it out under tough conditions," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "He did a good job, and we are very pleased with the way he competed. Obviously, he got us going again offensively."

Porcello (16-7, 4.20 ERA) held the Braves to two hits and a run over five innings while walking one and striking out five. It was a nice turnaround for the righty, who was 0-2 with a 6.35 ERA in his previous three starts.

Tweet from @RedSox: Who here has the highest batting average? pic.twitter.com/KzcpPn1ykQ

"Even though they had one home run, not giving up the big hit and giving up free passes to guys I don't want to give up free passes to, so, it was just a little bit cleaner, and not making as many mistakes," Porcello said.

Perhaps setting up shop in an NL East park was just the place for Porcello to turn it around. He went 3-0 with a 2.00 ERA in starts at Washington, Philadelphia and Atlanta, and he finished 3-for-7 at the plate.

"Yeah, it's definitely fun," Porcello said. "I got lucky. You enjoy it up until the point when you're out there and running the bases and you realize you've still got a ballgame you've got to pitch and to keep your legs underneath you. Obviously, we're not used to that in the American League. It's fun. It's always nice to get a knock."

Video: BOS@ATL: Porcello lines a single to right field

Porcello became just the fifth American League pitcher in the designated hitter era to have hits in three games in the same season, joining Eric Milton (1998), Andy Sonnanstine (2009), Zach Britton ('11) and Bud Norris ('13).

It was Porcello's final appearance in an NL park this season. In other words, if he gets to hit again in 2018, it will be during the World Series.

"That's a three-game hitting streak, so obviously we're looking for him to extend it later on in the season," Cora said.

The single by Porcello to open the fifth was on a 93.1-mph, first-pitch fastball from Braves lefty Sean Newcomb and came with Boston trailing, 1-0. Mookie Betts followed with a walk. With one out, J.D. Martinez loaded the bases with a single. Newcomb then walked Xander Bogaerts to force in Porcello, who touched home plate for his first career run to tie the game.

Video: BOS@ATL: Bogaerts draws a bases-loaded walk in 5th

The main thing the Red Sox had going for them offensively in this one was patience, as they drew nine walks. Steve Pearce led an eight-hit attack by going 3-for-4 with three RBIs.

"I think overall it was a good game," Cora said. "Kind of a clean game as far as what we did at the plate; we ran the bases, we pitched, we stayed away from Craig [Kimbrel] and from [Matt Barnes], which is good, and we ended up with the win."

Video: BOS@ATL: Hembree fans Rivera to end game

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
With lefty Newcomb starting for the Braves, Pearce got the start at first base over Mitch Moreland. Given that the rosters are expanded, Cora could have gone to his bench when Braves manager Brian Snitker brought on righty Shane Carle with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth. Instead, he stuck with Pearce, who laced an RBI single to give the Sox the lead.

Video: BOS@ATL: Pearce rips an RBI single into left field

An inning later, Pearce roped a two-run single off righty Luke Jackson.

"I'm not going to pinch-hit in the fifth inning," Cora said. "I understand we have options, but I think when you start abusing the roster, you're going to get caught up in a bad spot later on. They have a lot of lefties in their bullpen. I mean, we can score there with Mitch, but I felt like, 'Man, he hasn't played in a while, he's putting up good at-bats. It's a fastball-slider combination.' We felt good about the matchup there."

Video: BOS@ATL: Pearce drives in a pair with single to left

SOUND SMART
The Red Sox are 9-0-3 in their last 12 Interleague series, and 24-4 in their last 28 games against NL opponents.

HE SAID IT
"It's going to be a luxury tomorrow, I'll tell you that. People are going to go wild tomorrow, fantasy owners and all that. Sorry for them ahead of time, but it's going to be an interesting lineup. It's going to be a good one, but yeah, tune in." -- Cora, on the benefit of an expanded roster for Wednesday's getaway matinee

UP NEXT
Third baseman Rafael Devers is expected to make his first start since Aug. 15 after being out of action due to left hamstring woes. Veteran Brandon Phillips could get the nod at second in his first Major League start of the season. Star slugger Martinez and shortstop Bogaerts are both expected to be out of the lineup. Righty Hector Velazquez will make a spot start in the finale of this seven-game road trip. The Braves counter with righty Mike Foltynewicz. It will be a quick turnaround, with the first pitch scheduled for 12:10 p.m. ET.

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

Boston Red Sox, Steve Pearce, Rick Porcello