Red Sox complete largest comeback of season, beat Phillies 8-6

For the most part the Red Sox haven’t been a group of comeback kids this season. Boston has generally struggled to play from behind and prior to Wednesday the club’s largest deficit overcome in a win was only three runs.

Naturally they ripped off their biggest comeback of the season against arguably the best team in baseball.

Trailing 4-0 entering the bottom of the fourth, the Red Sox ripped off eight unanswered runs to turn the tables on the Philadelphia Phillies in Wednesday’s 8-6 win. The bulk of the damage came in the fifth, when the Red Sox scored five runs on six hits, with the exclamation mark coming on a go-ahead two-run double by Enmanuel Valdez.

Initially it seemed like the Red Sox were in for a long night.

Nick Pivetta, who was uncharacteristically inefficient against his former club, struggled with his command all night. He walked Kyle Schwarber to lead off the game, and after Nick Castellanos doubled to put men at second and third, Bryce Harper came through by shooting a line drive just under the glove of Bobby Dalbec at first base to score a run.

Pivetta recovered well and could have gotten out of the inning without further damage, but he caught a bad break after Jamie Westbrook and David Hamilton couldn’t turn what should have been a routine double play to end the inning. That allowed a second run to score, putting the Phillies up 2-0.

Even if the second run wasn’t totally his fault, Pivetta didn’t do himself any favors the rest of the way. By the end of the third inning he’d already walked a season-high four batters and his pitch count was north of 70. Philadelphia tagged him for two more runs in that inning on an RBI single by Whit Merrifield and an RBI double by David Dahl, and he ultimately made it through just four innings, allowing four runs on six hits with the four walks and four strikeouts.

Then the bats got going, and the tone of the evening completely changed.

The Red Sox initially got on the board with a Jamie Westbrook sacrifice fly in the fourth, which came after Rafael Devers hit his third triple of the season to get into scoring position. Then in the fifth Boston started the inning with four consecutive singles, including an infield knock by Jarren Duran, who drew a rushed throw and an error to score two runs.

Rob Refsnyder followed Duran with a single of his own to put runners at the corners, and Tyler O’Neill tied the game with a sacrifice fly. Connor Wong singled two batters later and then both he and O’Neill scored on Valdez’s two-run double to make it 6-4 Red Sox, though the second baseman got thrown out at third to end the inning trying to advance on the play at the plate.

Even still, Boston wasn’t finished. Bobby Dalbec led off the sixth with a walk, and then David Hamilton crushed a two-run home run to stretch the lead to 8-4. It was the rookie’s fourth home run of the season, and since May 15 Hamilton is now batting .354 with 11 extra-base hits and nine stolen bases over his last 25 games.

It’s been a remarkable turnaround considering that not long ago Hamilton was batting under .200, playing sporadically and was consistently struggling with even routine plays on defense. Earlier this week Cora said they just needed to be patient with the young infielder, and a lot of his recent success has come from his hitting more hard line drives as opposed to empty fly balls.

“We want him to hit the ball hard but I think he recognized ‘if I hit the ball in the air to left field it’s going to be a long night for me,’” Cora said pregame on Tuesday. “So now he’s hitting line drives all over the place.”

After Philadelphia got a run back in the seventh on an RBI double by Bryson Stott, the Red Sox squandered a golden opportunity to put the game away when Phillies reliever Spencer Turnbull loaded the bases with one out after issuing three walks. Bobby Dalbec and Hamilton each had opportunities to stretch the lead, but Dalbec flew out to right and Hamilton struck out to end the threat.

Still, the Red Sox bullpen held the Phillies at bay, and Kenley Jansen, who had only gotten four save opportunities since April 21 coming into the night, closed things out to record his 10th save of the season. He allowed an unlucky ground rule double to Bryce Harper, who advanced to third and scored on an Alec Bohm sacrifice fly, but then struck out Stott, walked Merrifield and drew a flyout to Dahl to end the game.

With the win Boston is now back at .500 for the 17th time this season and for the 11th time in the past month alone, including records of 26-26, 27-27, 28-28, 29-29, 30-30, 31-31, 32-32, 33-33 and now 34-34. The Red Sox will aim to get back over .500 and pull out a series win over the Phillies (46-21) in Thursday’s finale, which will feature a prime pitching matchup between Tanner Houck (6-5, 1.91) and Aaron Nola (8-2, 2.77). First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m.

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