The Red Sox held on for a 5-4 win to sweep the two-game series in Cincinnati on the strength of a two-run homer in the top of the fifth inning courtesy of Mike Napoli that put the Sox on top to stay.
Boston received solid starting pitching from rookie Anthony Ranaudo, who picked up his second win of the season, and had strong relief from the bullpen to shut down the Reds’ offense.
The Sox jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the first inning on Daniel Nava’s RBI single to center that scored Brock Holt, who walked and advanced to second on a pitch in the dirt by Reds starter Mike Leake. Nava scored when he hustled home on a ground out by Napoli, making it 2-0 Red Sox.
The Reds got a run back in the third inning on a sac fly and took the lead in the fourth when left fielder Skip Schumaker homered to right and Reds starter Mike Leake helped himself by going deep off Anthony Ranaudo for his second homer of the season. That gave the Reds a brief 3-2 lead.
In the fifth, Yoenis Cespedes tied the game when he drove in Brock Holt and Napoli put Boston back in the lead with a two-run opposite field shot, his 15th homer of the season.
The Reds got one back with another sac fly in the bottom of the fifth, making it 5-4 Sox.
Cespedes left the game with a bruised right hand after the fifth inning, which led to a series of moves for the Sox: Will Middlebrooks pinch hitting for Cespedes and moving to third base. Dustin Pedroia — who originally had the day off — came in to pinch hit for Nava and stayed in the game to play second as Brock Holt moved to right. Kelly Johnson went from third to left field in the game of musical chairs.
“[Cespedes] got jammed in his last at-bat a little bit, decided to take him out of the game,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after the game. The hand situation does not appear to be serious as he was taken out for precautionary reasons.
Ranaudo had trouble keeping his fastball down throughout the game. The rookie went six innings, giving up eight hits, two homers, four earned runs, a walk, and one strikeout in picking up his second win.
Junichi Tazawa had a solid eighth inning, striking out two Reds and also getting some help from Napoli who leaped to snag a line drove off the bat of Brayan Pena.
Aroldis Chapman came in for the Reds in the ninth and showed off his 100-plus m.p.h. stuff, one of the pitches smacking off the tricep of Jackie Bradley, Jr.
In the ninth, it was Edward Mujica getting the call to close it out in lieu of Koji Uehara. Mujica made it interesting by giving up hits to the first two batters in the inning before closing it out by knocking down a ground ball off the bat of Kris Negron and throwing to first to end it. Mujica has not been scored upon in nine straight relief appearances.
Napoli belted a two-run homer just over the wall in right field to give the Red Sox a 5-3 lead that would hold up. Leake decided to throw Napoli a fastball with a 2-0 count, and Napoli made him pay. “In those situations I’m just trying to drive the ball and I got a pitch I can handle,” Napoli said after the game.
Reds second baseman Ramon Santiago struck out trying to bunt a ball with two runners and two strikes on him on in the ninth inning. Santiago took a lazy poke at the ball with the bunt attempt and fouled it off for out No. 1. That proved to be a rally killer as Billy Hamilton then flied to center and Negron grounded out to Edward Mujica to end the game.
Edward Mujica saved the ballgame when he knocked down a hard shot up the middle off the bat of Kris Negron with two on and two out in the ninth inning to pick up the win. Mujica calmly picked up the ball and threw it over to Mike Napoli at first to end the game, picking up his third save of the season.
TWEET OF THE GAME
A right hand contusion for Cespedes. @m_sheldon asks me if he punched a wall.
— Ian Browne (@IanMBrowne) August 13, 2014
NUMBERS TO KNOW
Jackie Bradley Jr. broke an 0-for-35 streak with a base hit up the middle in the second inning. Xander Bogaerts singled to start the inning, but the Red Sox could not push a run home. The single was the JBJ’s first hit since July 26. For the game, Bradley went 1-for-3 with a strikeout. For the season, Bradley is now batting .212 with 108 strikeouts in 335 at-bats… The Red Sox are now 42-0 this season when leading after eight innings. Boston is the only major league team that has not lost entering the ninth with a lead… The Red Sox have played 47 one-run games this season, most in major league baseball. The Sox are 24-23 in those contests.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Red Sox finished the road trip 5-3. It’s the first time this season they’ve won more than three games on any road trip or came home with a winning record on a trip of three or more games. With the win, the Red Sox are now 54-65 no the season. Still thinking Wild Card? With the win today, the Red Sox are now 10 games out but would have to leapfrog six teams to make the postseason.
The Red Sox return to Fenway for an 11-game homestand beginning Thursday against the Astros. After four games against Houston, the Angels are in town for four games next week, followed by three against the Mariners before they hit the road again. Also on Thursday, Pedro Martinez, Nomar Garciaparra, Roger Clemens, and Joe Castiglione will be inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame. In addition to an afternoon luncheon at Fenway, there will be a pregame ceremony honoring the inductees.