Tanner Houck start, Christian Vazquez grand slam lead Red Sox to 8-2 rout of Braves

The 24-year-old Houck surrendered only three hits.

Red Sox starting pitcher Tanner Houck delivers a pitch in the first inning Saturday.
Red Sox starting pitcher Tanner Houck delivers a pitch in the first inning Saturday. –John Bazemore/AP Photo

ATLANTA (AP) — Rookie right-hander Tanner Houck struck out 10 in another dominant performance, Christian Vazquez capped a big inning with a grand slam, and the Boston Red Sox routed the Atlanta Braves 8-2 Saturday night.

Giving the Red Sox reason to be hopeful after a dismal season, Houck (3-0) surrendered his first earned run in three big league starts but thoroughly stifled baseball’s most explosive offense.

Boston did all its scoring in an eight-run second capped by Vazquez’s second career grand slam.

The 24-year-old Houck surrendered only three hits, walked three and held the Braves scoreless until Dansby Swanson led off the fifth with his 10th homer.

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Marcell Ozuna and Adeiny Hechavarría had the only other hits off the right-hander, who turned it over to the bullpen after throwing 94 pitches in six innings. His ERA for an abbreviated debut season was 0.53.

Tucker Davidson (0-1) was making his big league debut for the Braves, who already locked up the NL East and the No. 2 seed in the playoffs.

Davidson breezed through the first, striking out two while working around a walk, but wildness and a shaky defense doomed him in the second.

After Jackie Bradley Jr. walked with one out, Bobby Dalbec followed with a 449-foot drive into the empty left-field bleachers to stake the Red Sox to a 2-0 lead.

Hechavarría botched Michael Chavis’ grounder to third base for an error, Christian Arroyo singled and Alex Verdugo walked to load the bases.

Davidson had a chance to escape with no further damage, only to have the infield let him down again. Rafael Devers hit a sharp grounder to Swanson, who bobbled what could’ve been an inning-ending double play. The shortstop recovered in time for the force but the relay throw was too late to get Devers, bringing home another run and extending the inning.

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Xander Bogaerts followed with a run-scoring single, Davidson doled out his third walk of the inning to J..D. Martinez to load the bases again, and the Braves went to the bullpen.

The move backfired when Grant Dayton served up a 1-0 pitch that Vazquez — who had started the inning with a flyout — launched into the second level down the left-field line to clear the bases.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Red Sox: RH Phillips Valdéz took a liner off the left leg in the eighth but was able to finish out the inning.

Braves: 3B Austin Riley is sitting out the final two games of the regular season to deal with a sore quadriceps. He tweaked the injury Friday and the Braves decided not to take any more chances ahead of the playoffs. “We’ll just stay away from him for the rest of the weekend,” manager Brian Snitker said. “I think he’ll be fine.”

UP NEXT

Red Sox: RH Nick Pivetta (1-0, 1.80) gets the nod in Boston’s final game of the season. He is 2-1 with a 4.10 ERA in seven career starts against the Braves.

Braves: RH Bryse Wilson (1-0, 4.26) will try build on an impressive performance in his first start of the season. He pitched five scoreless innings against the Miami Marlins in a win that clinched Atlanta’s third straight division title. Another strong outing could earn him a more prominent role in the Braves’ postseason pitching plans.

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