After slugging their way to wins in the first five games against the Los Angels Angels
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, the Boston Red Sox needed some strong defense to complete the season sweep.
Jackie Bradley Jr. made a leaping catch at the wall in center to keep the Angels from scoring in the first inning and broke open the game with a two-run homer in the seventh as the Red Sox beat the Angels 4-2 on Thursday night.
”It feels good when you get the results,” Bradley said. ”Both were very pivotal for the game.”
Bradley’s shot to right was the 20th homer the Red Sox hit in six games against Los Angeles, sweeping the season series against the Angels for the first time since they joined the American League as an expansion club in 1961.
Boston outscored Los Angeles 49-12 while taking all six games, which according to the Red Sox is the first six-game season sweep in club history.
The Red Sox have won four straight and six of seven as they head to New York to open three-game series between the rivals on Friday night with first place in the AL East on the line.
Hector Velazquez (6-0) pitched two scoreless innings of relief, allowing just one hit and striking out three. Craig Kimbrel earned his 24th save with a scoreless ninth inning.
With scheduled starter Steven Wright on the DL, the Red Sox had to shuffle their rotation. Manager Alex Cora said he was pleased to get four innings out of starter Brian Johnson and two more from Velazquez
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, setting up the bullpen to finish off the Angels.
”We got to where we wanted to get,” Cora said. ”B.J. (Johnson) was outstanding using his fastball, mixing up his breaking ball – very pleased with the way we got six innings out of those guys.”
The Angels have lost six straight, although they were in contention in the last two games at Fenway Park.
”There’s no doubt we hit the ball harder than looking at six hits,” manager Mike Scioscia said. ”We probably squared up five other balls that they made nice plays on. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”
Andrelton Simmons hit a solo homer and Albert Pujols had an RBI single for the Angels, who had a potential rally going in the eighth with runners on first and second with one out but were robbed of another hit when Andrew Benintendi made a leaping catch at the wall that rivaled what Bradley did in the first.
Los Angeles was up 1-0 until Devers led off the fifth with his 13th homer, to center off of Jaime Barria (5-4).
Barria was pulled after giving up a one-out walk to J.D. Martinez with one out in the sixth and the score still tied 1-1. Jose Alvarez gave up a double to Mitch Moreland, with Martinez moving to third. Xander Bogaerts was then walked intentionally to load the bases, and Brock Holt drew a walk to drive in Martinez for Boston’s first lead. Alvarez then got Devers to ground into a double play to end the inning.
Barria was charged with two runs on four hits and two walks, striking out two over 5 1/3 innings.
”Jaime was good. He had to work hard to get to that point of the game,” Scioscia said. ”There was one fastball he just left down the heart of the plate and it was down to Devers and he hit it out to center. But I thought he gave us a chance to win
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, there’s no doubt about that.”
Bradley’s homer, his sixth, in the seventh off of Noe Ramirez pushed Boston’s lead to 4-1.
The Red Sox were busy packing their bags in the locker room after the game and were headed to New York, where the three-game series was scheduled to open Friday. The Red Sox (55-27) hold a slight lead on the Yankees (52-26), who were off Thursday.
While the series is big, Bradley said the division title is not on the line – yet.
”I think if you win
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, that takes care of everything. You don’t have to think about anything else,” Bradley said. ”You get that done, I don’t think you’ve got to worry about any other teams.”
Angels: Placed rookie reliever Jake Jewell on the DL with a broken right leg that could cause him to miss the rest of the season. He’s scheduled to have surgery Friday. Jewell was carted off the field at Fenway Park on Wednesday night. … The Angels recalled RHP Eduardo Paredes from Triple-A Salt Lake and added RHP Taylor Cole to the major league roster.
Angels: RHP Felix Pena (0-0, 5.40 ERA) gets his third start of the season and first on the road when the Angels open up a weekend series in Baltimore on Friday.
Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (9-2, 3.86) was on a six-start winning streak before taking the loss Saturday against Seattle. Rodriguez is scheduled to go up against Yankees LHP C.C. Sabathia (4-3, 3.18) in the series opener Friday night.