WASHINGTON (AP) — Hunter Renfroe and Bobby Dalbec hit back-to-back homers during a four-run sixth inning and the Boston Red Sox beat the Washington Nationals 4-2 Friday night to keep in postseason position.
Boston won for the second time in seven games and will continue at the minimum a tie for the second AL wild-card after starting the day with the same record as Seattle.
The Red Sox pulled within a game of the Yankees for the top wild card after New York lost to Tampa Bay. Toronto remained a game back of Boston by beating Baltimore with two days left in the regular season.
Eduardo Rodriguez (12-8) pitched scoreless ball into the sixth inning, allowing five fits. Hansel Robles walked Juan Soto and Josh Bell with two outs in the ninth before retiring Keibert Ruiz for his 13th save.
Struggling to score runs and playing without the designated hitter, manager Alex Cora loaded his lineup, starting former Nat Kyle Schwarber, Renfroe, and J.D. Martinez together in the outfield for the first time, with Dalbec at first base against Nationals lefty Josh Rogers.
The move paid off in the sixth. Martinez singled with one out, putting runners on first and second. Renfroe homered to left-center on a 2-2 fastball, and Dalbec followed with a solo shot into the Red Sox bullpen to make it 4-0.
“The hope is for the offense to wake up,” Cora said before the game. “That’s the most important thing. … We are struggling offensively right now. Putting all those guys out there, the hope is to score a lot of runs.”
Alcides Escobar and Jordy Mercer homered for Washington, which has lost three straight. Soto walked four times.
Rogers (2-2) allowed four runs on seven hits.
Schwarber hit 25 homers in 72 games — including 16 in June — for Washington before being traded on July 29th. He was the subject of a video tribute before the game and was applauded before his first at-bat. He went 0 for 3 with two walks.
Washington’s Andrew Stevenson made a pair of run-saving catches in left field. With two on in the seventh, he made a leaping catch on the warning track. With two outs and one on in the eighth, he made a diving catch on a sinking liner.
Red Sox: RHP Garrett Whitlock (right pectoral strain) threw a bullpen session. “I believe he’s going (to come out of it) OK and then we’ll decide when to activate him if he’s fine,” Cora said. “Tomorrow, Sunday, in any case it is.” … Cora said LHP Josh Taylor (low back strain) has however to begin again baseball activities.
Nationals: Stevenson started in place of Yadiel Hernandez, who was scratched from the lineup after having a dental procedure. Hernandez grounded out as a pinch-hitter in the seventh.
Red Sox: Cora has not announced a starter for Saturday’s game.
Nationals: Rookie RHP Josiah Gray (2-2, 5.85) has won back-to-back starts after not securing a win in his first 10. He has never faced Boston.
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