Boston's Jackie Bradley Jr. connects on a RBI single against the New York Yankees during the seventh inning of Sunday afternoon's game at Fenway Park. (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)
BOSTON — Here’s the kind of day Jackie Bradley Jr. had Sunday: When a reporter asked him to talk about his big hit, he needed clarification: “Which one?”
The reporter was asking about Bradley’s two-out, two-run triple to center-field in the second inning.
“Oh, that one,” Bradley said with a smile.
“That one” put the Boston Red Sox ahead of the New York Yankees early, and they never looked back en route to a 5-1 victory at Fenway Park.
“I got ahead in the count, a 2-0 fastball that I was able to handle,” said Bradley of the hit that brought Xander Bogaerts and Sandy Leon across the plate for a 2-0 lead. “Put some good barrel on it, and it was really big to get those runs early.”
They were the first two of three runs driven in by Bradley, who added a two-out single in the sixth to score Mitch Moreland.
Bradley’s heroics and a lock-down performance by the Boston bullpen gave the Red Sox the rubber match of the teams’ three-game series, extending their lead over the Yankees in the American League East to five games.
Rick Porcello (8-14) picked up the win, allowing one run on three hits in six innings of work with four strikeouts and three walks. It’s the fourth straight win for Porcello, bringing him to 4-4 since the All-Star break.
“Nothing in particular was really on fire,” Porcello said. “The walks were a little concerning, but we were able to pitch out of it, and I can’t say enough the way our offense battled. They really grinded their starter down, did a (heck) of a job, and we were able to put those runs across late in the game. To get him up over 100 pitches through five innings was huge.”
Sonny Gray (7-8) went five innings and allowed two runs, both earned, on seven hits with two walks in his fourth start as a Yankee. He departed with the Yankees down 2-1, but the New York bullpen fell flat, allowing four runs on five hits.
The Red Sox stretched Gray early, forcing him to throw 20 pitches in each of the first three innings.
“I think today was just a product of them putting in good at-bats,” Yankee manager Joe Girardi said.
Gray was mostly able to avoid any damage on the scoreboard save for the second inning, when Bradley smoked his two-out triple into the center-field triangle to bring Bogaerts and Leon home for a 2-0 lead.
“I just continued to battle and battle and obviously it didn’t turn out in my favor,” Gray said. “They had the one big hit: Jackie, I left a 2-0 pitch up.”
Porcello was mostly sharp early, before issuing back-to-back walks in the fourth inning. He escaped that trouble by inducing a fly ball from Todd Frazier and striking out Tyler Austin.
Bradley’s offense gave Porcello a cushion, and he helped his pitcher out in the field as well. Didi Gregorious led off the sixth inning by swinging on the first pitch he saw from Porcello, and he sent it seemingly destined for the gap in right-center. Instead, Bradley tracked it down and made the catch without even having to leave his feet.
“Jackie’s been phenomenal, swinging the bat today and giving us three RBIs, giving us a big double and a big lift defensively,” Porcello said. “That ball that Didi hit into the gap, I mean, I was on the mound and he caught it standing up, he tracked it down, and I thought for sure that ball was going to be down for at least a double. Jackie’s the best I’ve seen in center field. He’s phenomenal.”
The Yankees finally got to Porcello in the fifth when Brett Gardner, using Fenway Park’s unique dimensions, snaked a shot just past the right-field foul pole for a solo home run, cutting the Boston lead to 2-1.
The Yankees’ offense effectively shut down from there, as Boston pitching didn’t allow another baserunner the rest of the way. Red Sox relievers Brandon Workman, Addison Reed and Craig Kimbrel retired the final nine Yankee hitters in order.
“We have a lot of really good arms out there,” Workman said. “It seems like everybody’s capable of getting big outs, everybody’s throwing the ball well this year, and everybody’s got big arms out there.”
Gray departed after five innings, which ended his AL-best streak of nine straight starts (including six with Oakland) of at least six innings and two or fewer earned runs allowed.
With Gray gone, Bradley added another RBI to extend the Red Sox lead to 3-1 in the sixth inning, bringing home Mitch Moreland with a two-out single off of Adam Warren.
Aroldis Chapman made his first appearance since surrendering two runs in the eighth inning of Friday’s come-from-behind Red Sox win. Chapman, who was effectively demoted out of the closer’s spot by manager Joe Girardi after Friday’s game, entered in the sixth and retired four batters, walking one and striking out Rafael Devers with Mookie Betts looming at third base to end the seventh inning.
“When you go out there to pitch, you have to have the same mentality,” Chapman said through a translator. “I had the same mentality. The only difference is that I went into the game a little earlier.”
The Red Sox tacked on two more runs in the eighth, when Leon ripped a double off of Tommy Kahnle into the right field corner to score Bogaerts and Moreland.
NOTES: After the game, the Yankees optioned RHP Bryan Mitchell to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. ... The Red Sox announced that LHP Drew Pomeranz will throw a bullpen session today, and is on track to make his scheduled start Wednesday in Cleveland, after leaving Friday’s game in the fourth inning with back spasms. ...
Yankees RHP Masahiro Tanaka had an on-field throwing session before Sunday’s game. Tanaka was placed on the 10-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 10 with shoulder inflammation, but is scheduled to start Tuesday’s game in Detroit. He also threw a bullpen session at Fenway Park on Friday. ...
Red Sox INF Eduardo Nunez did not start Sunday, marking his first non-start since the trade that brought him from San Francisco to Boston on July 26, a span of 19 games. ...
RF Aaron Judge continued to struggle against the Red Sox, going 0-for-4 and extending his major league record streak to 37 straight games with at least one strikeout.