EditorsNote: Adds Phillies eliminated from NL East race in graf 3; adds Nola’s innings pitched in penultimate graf; other minor edits
Andrew Benintendi hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth inning to lead the Boston Red Sox past the host Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 in the opener of a two-game series Saturday.
Benintendi pinch-hit with the bases loaded and one out and lofted a fly to left field to score pinch runner Chris Owings. Matt Barnes (5-4) earned the win for the Red Sox (78-70), and Brandon Workman pitched around a leadoff walk in the ninth for his 13th save.
Hector Neris (3-6) took the loss for the Phillies. Philadelphia (76-71) dropped to 3 1/2 games back of the second National League wild card, currently held by Chicago. Earlier in the day, the Phillies were eliminated from the race for the NL East with Atlanta’s win over Washington.
With the Phillies tied 1-1 entering the ninth Saturday, Neris gave up two singles before shortstop Jean Segura robbed Jackie Bradley Jr. of a hit with a leaping snag for the first out. Pinch hitter Brock Holt, held from the starting lineup for feeling “under the weather,” walked on four pitches to load the bases and set up Benintendi off the bench.
Prior to the seventh inning, the game was a scoreless pitching duel between Boston left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez and Philadelphia righty Aaron Nola. Each team was limited to two hits over the first six frames.
The Red Sox broke through in the top of the seventh when Christian Vazquez took a knuckle curve from Nola to the gap in left-center for a one-out RBI double and a 1-0 lead. Later in the frame, Rodriguez, at 80 pitches and cruising, was sent up to bat with the bases loaded and two outs, but struck out.
In the bottom of the inning, Rodriguez finally faltered, loading the bases on two singles and a hit batter. Maikel Franco then knotted the score with a walk.
The Phillies got the potential tiebreaking run into scoring position with no outs in the eighth, but Barnes got a groundout and two deep flyouts to end the threat.
Rodriguez struck out 12 over his 6 2/3 innings, allowing one run on four hits and a walk. Nola gave up a run on four hits and three walks, striking out nine over seven innings.
Boston outfielder Mookie Betts was scratched from the starting lineup with left foot soreness.
—Field Level Media