Red Sox score eight runs in final two innings, stun Braves 9-8

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The Atlanta Braves dropped the first couple of games in their series against the Red Sox but it looked like they’d avoid the sweep today. With the Red Sox resting multiple regulars, Atlanta took a 7-1 lead after five innings, cruising behind starter Mike Foltynewicz.

The score remained 7-1 after seven innings. Unfortunately for the Braves, games are nine innings long.

It wasn’t just a come-from-behind victory for the Red Sox. It was a dramatic, double come-from-behind victory, with Boston scoring six in the eighth inning to tie things up and two more in the ninth to win it.

Those seven came thanks to a two-run double from Blake Swihart, RBI singles from Andrew Benintendi and Ian Kinsler and a sac fly from Steven Pearce. The Braves bullpen melted down. It was as simple as that.

But it wasn’t over yet! Because Freddie Freeman — who did not start thanks to a much-needed day off — came up in the bottom of the eighth and hit a solo homer to grab back the lead for the Braves:

Three outs to go, and it looked as if the Braves would lock this one up. But . . . nope.

Benintendi reached on a single and was still at first base when the second out of the inning was recorded. That left it all up to the newest Red Sox player, Brandon Phillips. Phillips had already walked twice and scored twice on the day, so it’s not like he was rusty despite not seeing major league action in 2018. Indeed, he got the call up to Boston because he stuck out minor league assignments all year long and is as sharp as he can be at this point in his career.

Still, I’m not sure anyone was expecting him to hit a no-doubter into the left field stands:

Just crushed. With that the Red Sox led 9-8. Craig Kimbrel would come on for the bottom of the ninth and close it out. Sox win.

The Braves have lost three and a row and six of their last eight. Their lead in the NL East is now down to two and a half over Philly, pending the Phillies game against the Marlins tonight.

For the Red Sox: just another victory in a season full of them.

Cards’ Pujols hits 700th career home run, 4th to reach mark

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES – St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 700th career home run on Friday night, connecting for his second drive of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers and becoming the fourth player to reach the milestone in major league history.

The 42-year-old Pujols hit No. 699 in the third inning, then launched No. 700 in the fourth at Dodger Stadium.

With the drive in the final days of his last big league season, Pujols joined Barry Bonds (762 homers), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) in one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs.

It’s been a remarkable run for Pujols. This was his 14th home run since the start of August for the NL Central-leading Cardinals, and his 21st of the season.

Pujols’ historic homer was a three-run shot against Dodgers reliever Phil Bickford. The ball landed in the first few rows of the left-field pavilion, the same location his two-run shot touched down the previous inning off left-hander Andrew Heaney.

Pujols received a prolonged standing ovation from the crowd – he finished out last season while playing for the Dodgers. He took a curtain call, raising his cap in acknowledgment.

The fans chanted “Pujols! Pujols!” They finally sat down after being on their feet in anticipation of seeing history.

Pujols snapped a tie with Alex Rodriguez for fourth on the list when he hit career homer No. 697 against Pittsburgh on Sept. 11.

Reaching 700 homers seemed like a long shot for Pujols when he was batting .189 on July 4. But the three-time NL MVP started to find his stroke in August, swatting seven homers in one 10-game stretch that helped St. Louis pull away in the division race.

“I know that early in the year … I obviously wanted better results,” Pujols said after he homered in a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 22. “But I felt like I was hitting the ball hard. Sometimes this game is going to take more away from you than the game (is) giving you back.

“So I think at the end of the day you have to be positive and just stay focused and trust your work. That’s something that I’ve done all the time.”

Pujols has enjoyed a resurgent season after returning to St. Louis in March for a $2.5 million, one-year contract. It’s his highest total since he hit 23 homers for the Angels in 2019.

He plans to retire when the season ends.

Pujols also began his career in St. Louis. He was selected by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 amateur draft and won the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year award.

The Dominican Republic native hit at least .300 with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of his first 10 seasons. He helped the Cardinals to World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.

He set a career high with 49 homers in 2006 – one of seven seasons with at least 40 homers. He led the majors with 47 homers in 2009 and topped the NL with 42 in 2010.

Pujols left St. Louis in free agency in December 2011, signing a $240 million, 10-year contract with the Angels. He was waived by the Angels in May 2021, and then joined the Dodgers and hit 12 homers and drove in 38 runs in 85 games.