Three errors lead to walk-off loss at Fenway
Uptons make miscues in eighth, La Stella can't corral throw in ninth
BOSTON --- Disastrous seventh innings on both Monday and Tuesday did in the Braves, and manager Fredi Gonzalez joked that his team would be fine if it could just skip that frame for the following two games against the Red Sox. On Thursday, it was fielding miscues in the eighth and ninth innings that doomed Atlanta.
After a stellar outing from lefty Mike Minor, the Red Sox scored two in the eighth to tie it and then Jackie Bradley Jr. came home on an error in the ninth to give Boston a 4-3 walk-off victory at Fenway Park. The Sox, who had dropped their previous 10 contests, completed a four-game, home-and-home sweep of the Braves.
"You feel better if someone gets a base hit or hits a two-run homer then losing the game that way," Gonzalez said. "I know I feel that way, and I'm sure those guys in there feel that way. You never like to lose ballgames, but to lose one that way, it's not good."
Craig Kimbrel walked Bradley and Brock Holt to start the ninth, and then Xander Bogaerts hit a sharp grounder toward third base that Chris Johnson dove to knock down. However, his one-hop throw to start a double play couldn't be corralled by Tommy La Stella, who was playing in his second big league game. Bradley scored when La Stella, who was charged with the error, saw the ball trickle past him toward right field.
"They're a tough team, and I feel like all four games we played them, they battled back each time," Minor said. "It was expected for them to battle back, it's just unfortunate for us."
In the eighth, David Carpenter gave up a leadoff single to Holt, which was misplayed by Justin Upton in left, allowing Holt to reach second. Bogaerts knocked him in, and then Dustin Pedroia hit a chopper up the middle that La Stella knocked down but couldn't flip to second for a potential double play.
"The eighth and ninth innings, we didn't get it done and gave them opportunities to create runs by mishandling the baseball," Gonzalez said.
A.J. Pierzynski then singled to center, and B.J. Upton's error allowed Bogaerts to score and tie the game. Luis Avilan took over for Carpenter with one out. Avilan struck out Grady Sizemore and intentionally walked pinch-hitter David Ortiz before Kimbrel came on to force a David Ross flyout with the bases loaded.
It was the first time all season Kimbrel pitched in two different innings and just the second time he pitched in any inning but the ninth.
"Getting up early didn't [hurt me]," Kimbrel said. "The two walks after did. Gotta get the ball over the plate and get outs."
Minor tossed seven innings, allowing seven hits, no walks and one run with three strikeouts. He picked up a no-decision and set a season high for pitches with 113.
Jake Peavy was solid for Boston in an eight-inning effort. He gave up eight hits and one walk with four strikeouts while surrendering three earned runs.
Peavy got in trouble early in the eighth when B.J. Upton singled and scored on a Freddie Freeman double, which gave the Braves a 3-1 edge with no outs. But Atlanta couldn't add on to its lead beyond that --- and it needed to.
On Monday, the Red Sox scored two runs in the seventh to break a tie and win 8-6. On Tuesday, it was a four-run seventh. Thursday's win gave Boston its third comeback victory of the series, a welcome sight for manager John Farrell.
"We mounted a comeback that hasn't been too frequent this year against two very good late-inning relievers. We swung the bat well in that eighth inning to tie things up," Farrell said. "Just a good comeback win overall."
In the fifth, Andrelton Simmons singled up the middle, stole second and moved to third on an infield single by Jason Heyward, giving the Braves an ample opportunity to extend their lead. But Peavy worked his way out of trouble, forcing a lineout and a groundout to end the frame.
The Red Sox got one back in the bottom of the fifth when Holt knocked in Ross, who had doubled, with a line drive off the Green Monster.
Heyward launched a fat changeup over the short wall in right field for his fifth home run of the season in the third, giving Atlanta a 1-0 lead. He went 2-for-5. In the fourth, Freeman walked then moved to second on a Peavy balk before Evan Gattis drilled a single to left to put the Braves up 2-0.