WASHINGTON -- With a rare chance to display his talents in the nation's capital, Mookie Betts didn't let it go to waste, making a dazzling throw from right field and smashing a majestic solo home run to help lead the Red Sox to a 4-3 victory Monday night at Nationals Park.
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First came the throw. When Wilmer Difo smacked a single to right in the bottom of the second, Daniel Murphy figured he would test the strong arm of Betts by going first to third.
That turned out to be not such a great idea. Betts came up firing and nailed Murphy with a perfect one-hopper. Third baseman Rafael Devers was actually waiting for Murphy when he corralled the throw and recorded the putout.
"I think it's probably the right play there," said Betts. "A soft-hit ground ball. Got to take a chance there, and I made the throw."
The throw looked like it was shot out of a cannon.
"Mookie's throw for the out at third was huge," said winning pitcher Rick Porcello. "It really stopped the momentum. It could have been a big inning for them. That defensive play was big."
In the top of the seventh, with the Red Sox clinging to a one-run lead, Betts opened some insurance by unloading for his 21st homer of the season to left-center.
Betts tattooed a 1-2 slider by Brandon Kintzler a projected distance of 430 feet.
It was a sweet win for the Red Sox after losing two out of three in New York. By beating Nats ace Max Scherzer, Boston took back first place in the American League East by a game over the Yankees, who lost to the Braves, 5-3.
"Just doing what I can to help the team. I think whatever I can do, I'm definitely going to do," said Betts.
Monday's opener of a three-game series was the first career game for Betts at Nationals Park. He should be back July 17 for the All-Star Game.
"Outstanding today," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Betts. "Great at-bats, staying in the zone. Obviously he hits a home run but the play he made, that throw he made, and the catch against [Trea] Turner in the last inning, he's an all-around player and it seems like I say this every day. I'm proud of him."