DETROIT — From a rain delay lasting more than four hours to a seven-run lead that nearly vanished, there was nothing easy about Saturday for the Red Sox.
Comerica Park was nearly the scene of the latest rancid Boston defeat of the season, one that would have soured the mood into the final contest before the All-Star break. A late rescue effort headlined by Matt Barnes and Eduardo Nunez was required for the Red Sox to finally escape.
Barnes struck out the only man he faced and Nunez’s RBI single allowed Boston to breathe again late. Those were two of the key exchanges in a 10-6 victory over the Tigers, one that moved the Red Sox seven games over .500 for the third time this season.
Barnes was summoned into a 8-6 game with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the seventh. Gordon Beckham fanned on three straight curveballs, the last two of which broke hard into the dirt. Barnes stranded three runners inherited from Josh Taylor, setting up Brandon Workman and Steven Wright to handle the final two frames.
“There’s not a lot of room for error there with the bases loaded,” Barnes said. “You’ve got to attack him. You’ve got to make quality pitches from the start.”
Buck Farmer’s error on a Rafael Devers comebacker had given the Red Sox that two-run cushion. It still felt rather tenuous into the eighth when Andrew Benintendi finished off his first four-hit game of the season with leadoff single to shallow left. Benintendi stole second and remained there with two outs when Nunez sent an RBI single up the middle, putting the Red Sox further out of reach.
“We kept putting pressure and scoring runs,” Mookie Betts said. “The guys in the bullpen helped us.”
Christian Vazquez’s sacrifice fly in the ninth was the capper on a day where the Red Sox pounded Jordan Zimmermann for the second time in as many meetings this season. Boston tagged the Detroit starter for a career-high 13 hits over just 3 1/3 innings, including 10 by its first 17 men who came to the plate. Zimmermann was charged with seven earned runs, his most allowed in a game since August 2017.
“We did a good job putting good at-bats,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “Obviously what Mookie is doing, he’s getting there. Everybody knows when he gets going, we get going. And the fun begins.”
The slugging started in the top of the first when Betts tripled off the wall in center and scored on an RBI grounder to second by Devers. Benintendi added a two-out triple down the line in right and came home on a looping single over the second baseman by Michael Chavis. It was 2-0 Red Sox and the first time Boston had tripled twice in a first inning since July 1963.
The Red Sox were at it again in the second when Betts drilled a two-run double to the wall in left and Vazquez lined an RBI single to right. Boston enjoyed a 5-0 lead and was making nothing by solid contact. Vazquez’s base hit was one of nine balls put in play at more than 101 mph against Zimmermann.
Benintendi’s fortuitous double down the line in left and Brock Holt’s sacrifice fly to deep left-center closed the book on Zimmermann in the fourth. Boston didn’t manage another hit until Marco Hernandez sent a looper to left with one out in the seventh, and its comfortable lead had been shaved to a sliver.
Jeimer Candelario proved the most difficult hitter for Rick Porcello to solve. Candelario posted the second multi-homer game of his career, accounting for three runs on two swings. His two-run shot hit the foul pole in right in the fourth and he hooked a drive inside the pole with one out in the sixth.
“Today there was a slider to Candelario, then the breaking ball – it just happens,” Cora said. “At the end he gave us 5 2/3. We were one out away from going to where we wanted to, but it didn’t happen.”
Candelario’s second homer made it a 7-3 game, and Porcello quickly unraveled. Harold Castro and Beckham each singled and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch, setting the table for Bobby Wilson with two outs. His two-run single through the left side made it 7-5 and forced Cora to bring on Colten Brewer.
Victor Reyes greeted the right-hander with a slicing dive toward the corner in left, one that eluded a diving Benintendi. The RBI triple cut Detroit’s deficit to 7-6, and Brewer fanned Nicholas Castellanos to escape further damage. Porcello was charged with six earned runs for the second straight start, his last coming in a 17-13 debacle against the Yankees in London last weekend.
“Everything was going fine through five innings,” Porcello said. “Sixth inning again, I got hit around. Definitely looking to go deeper – at least go seven. They had that game in complete control.”