BOSTON — Jackie Bradley Jr. showed just how much of Fenway Park’s expansive center field he can cover with a pair of catches that helped the World Series champion Boston Red Sox put together their first winning streak of the season.
Bradley sprinted to make a diving catch early, then the Gold Glover shut down an eighth-inning threat by climbing high up the wall for a leaping grab that saved at least one run from scoring as the Red Sox held on to beat the Baltimore Orioles 6-4 on Friday night.
“That’s why he is the best center fielder in the big leagues,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “Regardless of what’s going on at the plate, we know — we trust the guy — he’ll find it.”
Bradley also drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and was a key to Boston’s victory despite not having a hit.
“You have to. Not doing it on one side of the ball, you’ve got to do it on the other,” Bradley said. “Either way, you’ve got to do your job.”
Andrew Benintendi homered and Xander Bogaerts had three hits, helping Eduardo Rodriguez (1-2) and the Red Sox improve to 5-9 with their third win in four games.
“We’re going to be fine. We just have to play better baseball,” Cora said. “On a nightly basis, we feel very comfortable. People go through slumps. Maybe we went through ours already.”
Baltimore’s Chris Davis initially had the night off as he rode an 0 for 53 slump into the game. Called upon as a pinch-hitter with two out in the ninth, Davis ended the game with a liner to second, extending his record hitless streak for a position player to 0 for 54.
Davis is far from the only Baltimore player to struggle at the plate this season and Friday. The Orioles had just four hits and struck out 12 times.
“It’s a sign of a team with a lot of high character that’s able to battle back against some good pitching and make it close there at the end,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “I was just really happy after getting really shut down the first 5-6 to be able to put some base runners out there.”
Off the wall
Bradley made a diving grab in the fourth on a sinking liner, then topped that in the eighth when the Orioles were threatening with a man on while trailing by two runs.
Joey Rickard hit a drive deep to center that appeared to be headed for a bounce high off the wall until Bradley did a little climbing. Bradley planted his right foot in the padding of the and pushed himself just high enough to make the catch.
“Just an all right play,” Bradley said when asked where he would rank that catch.
The catch helped preserve a 4-2 lead and Boston tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the eighth, one on a sacrifice fly by Bradley.
Rodriguez (1-2) kept the Orioles hitless through four and taking a shutout into the seventh. He allowed two runs on three hits with no walks and eight strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. He was pulled after Dwight Smith Jr. hit a two-run homer to pull the Orioles within 3-2.
David Hess (1-2) gave up three runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings for the Orioles, who lost their fourth straight.
“There’s frustration because we’re a bunch of guys that want to win. We’ve really stuck together well from what I can tell and as a group we’ve really come together and picked each other up,” Hess said. “That’s a team that won the World Series last year and a big part of that was their offense. It is a really good lineup.”
Benintendi’s first homer of the season put Boston up 1-0 in the third. Eduardo Nunez had a pair of RBI singles for the Red Sox.
Renato Nunez hit a two-run homer in the ninth off Tyler Thornburg, who started the inning by walking Trey Mancini. Ryan Brasier came in later to post his third save, getting Davis to end it with a soft liner to second.
Baltimore didn’t have a hit against Rodriguez until Hanser Alberto lined a two-out single to left in the fifth.
Orioles: C Pedro Severino had the night off after getting hit in the head Thursday night by a curveball thrown by Oakland’s J.B. Wendelken in the seventh inning. Hyde said Severino cleared concussion tests but the Orioles wanted to give him another day.
Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia was out of the lineup after playing his first two games of the season this week. Pedroia, who played in only three games last year because of a knee injury, made his season debut Tuesday and started in Thursday night’s win over Toronto. Cora said RHP Hector Velazquez is scheduled to start Monday’s series finale for Chris Sale, who is off to an 0-3 start with an ERA of 9.00. Cora said he wanted to give Sale some extra rest and have him available to start Tuesday night when the Red Sox open a two-game set at the New York Yankees.
Orioles: RHP Andrew Cashner (2-1, 5.28 ERA) gets his first start since picking up a win over Oakland on Monday, helping Baltimore end a four-game skid.
Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (0-2, 13.50) is still looking for his first win of the season after losing his first two starts. Porcello went 2-0 against the Orioles last season, but is 6-11 against Baltimore in his career.