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Red Sox make a clean break

MassLive.com, Springfield, Mass.
July 15. 2018 9:26PM
Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts fields a ground ball for an out during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)



BOSTON — Behind 4 1/3 scoreless innings from their bullpen and a little help from the Cleveland Indians, the Boston Red Sox will head into the All-Star break with their biggest lead in the American League East so far this season.

Boston’s 5-2 win combined with the New York Yankees’ loss by the same score, left the Red Sox with a 4½-game lead heading into the four-day break.

The Boston bullpen always figured to have a big role Sunday with Brian Johnson pitching. The lefty was just activated from the disabled list before the game and hadn’t thrown more than 82 pitches in any outing this season, splitting time between the rotation and the bullpen. Johnson allowed four walks, but worked around them in 4 2/3 innings. He allowed two hits and two runs while throwing a season-high 84 pitches.

Brandon Workman finished the fifth for him to earn the win, striking out the only batter he faced. Tyler Thornburg followed with his second scoreless outing and is starting to look like the potential late-inning option the Red Sox hoped he’d be when they acquired him.

Ryan Brasier, who hadn’t allowed a hit in his first three appearances (four innings) in Boston gave up two in the seventh, but started a 1-6-3 inning-ending double play that kept his ERA at 0.00. Heath Hembree got into and out trouble in the eighth, striking out Dwight Smith Jr. with the bases loaded to end the threat.

Craig Kimbrel worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his 30th save to secure the win.

Xander Bogaerts encored Saturday’s walk-off grand slam with a solo home run to left in the top of the first. Steve Pearce, who’d missed the last two games with a shin bruise, made a subtle yet key contribution to the second run. With one out and two runners on, the designated hitter squibbed a nubber between the mound and third. Marcus Stroman pounced and threw Mitch Moreland out at second. Pearce had to hustle down the line, but he beat the relay to keep the inning alive as J.D. Martinez moved to third.

Brock Holt followed with a two-out RBI single that made it 2-0.

The Blue Jays drew even in the third. Randal Grichuk led off with a double to gap and Teoscar Hernandez belted a two-run home run into the Monster Seats.

Sandy Leon led off the bottom of the fifth with a double over Hernandez off the wall in left. Jackie Bradley Jr. put Boston ahead 3-2 with a double to center, moved to third on Mookie Betts’ fly to right. He scored on Bogaerts RBI bounce out that hit Stroman in the leg, stretching the Red Sox lead to 4-2.

They extended the advantage in the sixth. Aaron Loup walked Moreland and hit Pearce to open the frame.

The Sox are off until Friday when they’re in Detroit.


Red Sox/MLB