Red Sox strike early, improve to 6-1 versus Yankees

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The Red Sox jumped all over Freddy Garcia on Tuesday, knocking him out in the second inning before holding on to win 6-4 over the Yankees.  They’ve taken six of seven games from the Bombers this season.

Jacoby Ellsbury started the contest with a leadoff homer to right.  After that, a Dustin Pedroia walk, an Adrian Gonzalez triple and a Kevin Youkilis sac fly made it 3-0 with just one out in the first.  When the Red Sox scored again in the second, Garcia was pulled in favor of Luis Ayala.

At 1 2/3 innings, it was tied for the second shortest start of Garcia’s career.  He gave up five runs in 1 1/3 innings for the White Sox in a loss to Oakland last year.

The Red Sox won despite another shaky outing from Jon Lester.  The southpaw gave up three runs and eight hits in his six innings of work.  He never had a one-two-three inning until the sixth, and he surrendered Jorge Posada’s first two hits against a left-handed pitcher this season.

Thanks to the quick sixth, Lester did manage a quality start in this one.  However, he has a 6.17 ERA in his last six outings.

The game also featured a couple of injuries.  Mark Teixeira had to be helped off with a knee contusion after getting hit by a Lester pitch in the first.  Bobby Jenks, who is just off the DL, left in the seventh with what appeared to be back spasms.

Obviously, not a whole lot went right for the Yankees in this one.  Hector Noesi’s performance was the exception.  Coming in as the team’s third pitcher of the game to start the fourth, he pitched six innings in relief, allowing two runs.  He retired 13 straight after David Ortiz’s two-run homer in the fifth.

That he was able to finish the contest and save the pen could play a big role in the remaining games in the series.

One can’t help but wonder if Ortiz might get buzzed up and in Wednesday’s rematch.  He pulled off quite the bat flip following his homer tonight, and he’s looking awfully comfortable at the plate anyway.  Joe Girardi certainly noticed.

And one more note: Derek Jeter went 2-for-5 in this one, leaving him 12 hits shy of 3,000.  His first hit should have been ruled an error on Boston shortstop Marco Scutaro, but we’ll give the official scorer a pass this time: hindering Jeter’s chances of reaching the 3,000-hit plateau at Yankee Stadium probably wouldn’t have been great for his health.

Swanson, Olson go deep vs Scherzer, Braves take NL East lead

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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered off Max Scherzer, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a crucial 4-2 victory Saturday night over the New York Mets and a one-game lead in the NL East.

The defending World Series champions beat aces Jacob deGrom and Scherzer on consecutive nights to take their biggest lead of the season in the division. New York, which held a 10 1/2-game cushion on June 1, faces its biggest deficit of the year with four games remaining.

Atlanta will try for a three-game sweep Sunday night, with the winner earning the season-series tiebreaker between the teams. Even though both teams are headed to the postseason, that’s important because the NL East champion gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Swanson’s 24th homer, a go-ahead, two-run shot in the fifth inning, touched off a frenzy among the sold-out crowd at Truist Park, the ball sailing a few rows up into the seats in left-center to make it 3-2. Olson hit his 32nd homer in the sixth, a solo shot into Chop House seats in right to put Atlanta up 4-2.

Austin Riley led off the fourth with a double and scored on Olson’s single to make it 1-all.

Kyle Wright (21-5) gave up two runs and seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in five innings as he won his eighth straight decision. The Braves have won 16 of his last 17 starts.

New York went up 2-1 in the fifth when Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil hit consecutive two-out singles.

The Mets led 1-0 in the first when Brandon Nimmo singled, advanced on a walk and a single and scored on Eduardo Escobar‘s groundout. Wright, who threw 30 pitches in the first, stranded two runners in scoring position to prevent further damage.

Scherzer (11-5) allowed a first-inning single to Riley and a third-inning infield single to Ronald Acuna Jr., who advanced to third on a fielding error by Lindor at shortstop but was stranded when Michael Harris II lined out to center. Scherzer patted his glove and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

Scherzer was charged with nine hits and four runs with no walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as the Mets were knocked out of first place for only the third day all season.

The Braves have won five of the last six against New York to tie the season series 9-all, outscoring the Mets 37-16 over that stretch.

Atlanta’s bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA in September, got a perfect inning from Dylan Lee in the sixth. Jesse Chavez faced four batters in the seventh, Raisel Iglesias faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 39th save in 46 chances.

Since the Braves were a season low-tying four games under .500 at 23-27 after play on May 31, they have gone 76-32, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors over that span. They were a season-worst 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets on June 1.

Wright, the only 20-game winner in baseball this season, hasn’t officially become the first Braves pitcher to lead the league in wins outright since Russ Ortiz had 21 in 2003, but the Dodgers’ Julio Urias has 17 and can’t reach 20 before the regular season ends.

Wright will become the first Braves pitcher since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in 2000 to lead the majors in wins. Houston ace Justin Verlander also has 17.

Wright began the game 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts and one relief appearance against the Mets.

The Braves, who got homers from Riley, Olson and Swanson off deGrom on Friday, lead the NL with 240 homers.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. Manager Buck Showalter said Marte is experiencing less pain but not enough to take the next step in his recovery. Marte has been sidelined since Sept. 7.

Braves: RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique. Manager Brian Snitker said there is no timetable for the rookie’s return. Strider has been sidelined since Sept. 21.

NICE GLOVE

Harris ran back and jumped to catch Nimmo’s fly against the wall in center field for the first out of the third.

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Chris Bassitt (15-8, 3.27 ERA) will face RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29) as the teams conclude a three-game series.