Devers’ slam leads Red Sox over Braves
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 11, 2022
By CHARLES ODUM
AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA — Rafael Devers hit his first career grand slam and the last-place Boston Red Sox broke out for clean-shaven manager Alex Cora in a 9-4 win over the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night that ended a five-game skid.
Devers’ 432-foot blast off Kyle Wright (3-2) hit the center-field scoreboard behind the Braves’ bullpen. Devers also had a double and a walk.
The slam, Devers’ fifth homer, was the highlight of Boston’s six-run second inning. Trevor Story had a two-run single in the ninth.
The Red Sox matched a season high for scoring last reached April 13. Boston had combined for six runs over their past four losses.
The offensive surge came after Cora decided to shave his salt-and-pepper beard before the series. He grew out his facial hair ahead of the season and joked that it was to blame for his team’s poor start.
“If we win 10 in a row, it’s on me because I should have recognized that before,” Cora said with a smile before the game.
Christian Vázquez had a run-scoring single and Jackie Bradley Jr. drew a bases-loaded walk before Devers’ slam gave Boston a 6-0 lead.
The Red Sox led 6-4 before adding three runs in the ninth off Tyler Thornburg. Alex Verdugo’s bases-loaded walk drove in a run before Story’s two-run single.
The Red Sox ended their streak of six consecutive series losses by earning at least a split of the two games in Atlanta.
Boston had lost 14 of 18 games and began the night last in the AL East, 10 1/2 games behind the first-place New York Yankees.
The Red Sox (11-19), who lost to Houston in last season’s AL Championship Series, aren’t the only team struggling to reclaim their winning form. The defending World Series champion Braves (14-17) began the night six games behind the NL East-leading New York Mets.
The Braves, coming off a series win over Milwaukee, have no winning streaks longer than two games this season.
Wright allowed six runs on seven hits and four walks in 4 2/3 innings.
Travis d’Arnaud hit a two-run homer off Garrett Whitlock, who allowed three runs on four hits and four walks in three innings. Tyler Danish (1-0) allowed one hit in two scoreless innings.
Hansel Robles, who has converted only one of three saves chances, walked leadoff hitter Ronald Acuña Jr. in the seventh. Acuña advanced to third on Matt Olson’s line-drive single past first baseman Franchy Cordero and scored on Marcell Ozuna’s grounder.
SHAKE IT UP
Cora didn’t depend on his clean look to change his team’s direction. He also tweaked his lineup.
Story, hitting .194, hit sixth instead of at the top of the lineup and had two hits, including a single in the big second inning. Xander Bogaerts moved down one spot to fourth and had three hits. Designated hitter J.D. Martinez hit third instead of fourth and had a single.
Red Sox LHP Rich Hill, who was placed on the COVID-19 injury list on Friday, is “doing good” and is symptom-free, according to Cora, but is still awaiting the necessary two negative tests before he can be activated. Cora said “if everything goes well” Hill could return to the rotation for this weekend’s series at Texas.
Atlanta’s Ian Anderson (3-1, 4.01) will face Boston’s Nathan Eovaldi (1-1, 2.94) in a matchup of right-handers in Wednesday night’s final game of the series. Anderson allowed four runs in four innings last season in his only previous start against the Red Sox. Eovaldi is 2-2 with a 2.71 ERA in 14 starts against the Braves.
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