BOSTON (AP) — A little time off at the All-Star break looks like it was all the Milwaukee Brewers needed to get rolling.
Hunter Renfroe belted a two-run homer over the Green Monster, Eric Lauer pitched five innings of one-run ball for his first victory in over a month and the Brewers beat fading Boston 9-4 on Saturday, sending the Red Sox to their 13th loss in 16 games.
Omar Narváez and Tyrone Taylor each added a solo shot, and Rowdy Tellez had three hits and drove in a run for the NL Central-leading Brewers, who are 7-1 since the break.
“I guess a little rest does a lot of people good for sure,” Renfroe said. “I think we’re swinging the bat well and seeing the ball all right.”
Milwaukee, playing in Boston for the first time since 2014, will try for a sweep of the three-game series Sunday.
“I would probably say this is the best we’ve played as a team,” said Brewers reliever Devin Williams, who extended his club-record for a single season with his 30th straight scoreless appearance. “I think we’re all kind of clicking on all cylinders right now.”
While the Brewers are going in one direction, the Red Sox are the opposite.
Christian Vázquez and Xander Bogaerts each had an RBI single for Boston, which is last in the AL East and has dropped seven of nine in a season-high 10-day game homestand.
“We’ve been talking about, we need to get to the next level,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “It seems like we haven’t been able to do that throughout the season, let’s be honest. We take a few steps forward and a lot of steps back.”
Renfroe, who played one season with the Red Sox before being traded to the Brewers last November, belted a curveball from Nick Pivetta (8-8) into the second row of seats for his 18th homer, making it 4-1 in the fifth. Pivetta dropped to one knee after Renfroe made contact and didn’t turn to look.
“That was cool,” Renfroe said, smiling, of his homer. “I told everybody I’ve got to start hitting the ball away from everybody. That was hitting it away from everybody, I guess.”
Trailing 5-1 in the seventh, Vázquez and Bogaerts had consecutive run-scoring hits before J.D. Martinez sliced Boston’s deficit to one with a sacrifice fly, which Renfroe made a nice over-the-shoulder catch on.
Milwaukee put it away with three in the ninth when Taylor homered into the center field batter’s eye.
Making his first career start in Fenway Park, Lauer (7-3) allowed four hits, with four strikeouts and three walks, earning his first win since June 17 at Cincinnati.
Narváez hit a curve down in the strike zone from Pivetta, sending it into Boston’s bullpen.
Coming off his best start in a month, Pivetta gave up four runs and nine hits in five innings.
“I don’t think it was a step back to be honest with you,” Pivetta said of his outing. “I think it was just miscues with certain pitches. … I think there were a lot more positives today. I think it was just a couple of pitches that went over the fence and that’s just how it goes sometimes.”
RUN ON HIM
The Brewers stole three bases against C Kevin Plawecki, who has caught just one in 22 attempts this season.
First base umpire Mike Muchlinski made a quick “safe” call and immediately changed it to “out” when Boston’s Jarren Duran was picked off. No replay review was asked for and he clearly got the call right.
SOX ROSTER SHUFFLE
Arroyo was activated from the 10-day injured list Saturday and INF Jeter Downs was demoted to Triple-A Worcester.
Brewers: C Victor Caratini was hit in the helmet by Franchy Cordero’s back swing and went to the ground, but he stayed in the game. … RHP Freddy Peralta (IL since late May, right shoulder) made his second rehab start Friday night, striking out five in 3 1/3 innings for Triple-A Nashville.
Red Sox: Cora said that a second-opinion exam on 2B Trevor Story’s bruised right hand revealed a “little hairline fracture” and that he’d be shut down from swinging a bat for 10 days. Story has been on the IL since July 14 after getting hit on the hand by Tampa Bay’s Corey Kluber. … RHP Michael Wacha threw a simulated game, his second off Fenway’s mound, and Cora said if he feels OK that he’ll go on a rehab assignment next week. … 3B Rafael Devers (IL, right hamstring) is expected to travel with the team to Houston next week.
LHP Aaron Ashby (2-8, 4.38 ERA) is slated to start the series finale Sunday for the Brewers. RHP Josh Winckowski (3-5, 5.18) is scheduled for the Red Sox.
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