HRs, key relief fuel Red Sox over D-backs

HRs, key relief fuel Red Sox over D-backs

BOSTON -- Two elements that have been lacking from the Red Sox of late -- timely hitting and stellar relief -- returned in grand fashion in Saturday night's 6-3 victory over the D-backs at Fenway Park.

Sandy Leon curled a solo homer around the foul pole in right in the fifth to start the three-run inning that brought Boston back from a 3-1 deficit. Brock Holt drilled a two-run shot into the bleachers in right-center in the sixth for insurance, and Andrew Benintendi went 2-for-3 from the No. 9 spot.

"What Sandy Leon continues to do is not only remarkable, but it's outstanding the way he's come on this year," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Brock Holt seemingly getting his timing back a little bit more consistently tonight. And you know what, Andrew has come up here almost on a rapid ascent to the big leagues."

Leon's solo homer

Clay Buchholz held his own in a spot start, allowing three hits and three runs over 4 1/3 innings. He was lifted after 71 pitches because he hadn't worked as a starter since July 2.

Once the Red Sox went in front for good in the fifth, the bullpen held on, highlighted by a spectacular escape from side-winder Brad Ziegler in the eighth. Craig Kimbrel finished off Arizona in the ninth, converting his 19th save in 21 opportunities. Boston has a 1 1/2-game edge over the Tigers in the American League Wild Card standings.

Kimbrel notches save

Archie Bradley took the loss, giving up seven hits and six runs (four earned) over 5 1/3 innings.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Ziegler's great escape:
Ziegler came on in quite a tough situation against the team that traded him a month ago, inheriting a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam in the eighth. And the righty came through in flawless fashion, striking out three straight batters on 10 pitches, all of them strikes. The crowd erupted when Chris Owings flailed at the final pitch of the inning -- a 76-mph curveball.

Ziegler fans side with three on

"Especially with it being Arizona and my first outing against them, I was doing what I could just to stay relaxed, stay calm on the mound," Ziegler said. "Even warming up, kind of seeing the scenario unfold, not try to get the adrenaline too high, because if it does, I end up missing with my pitches and not throwing them where I want. Fortunately, tonight, I was able to do that." More >

Another defensive lapse: One day after a pair of first-inning errors led to four unearned runs, the D-backs' defense once again let down a starting pitcher. After a leadoff homer in the fifth, Holt lifted a fly ball to shallow right. Second baseman Jean Segura backed up, and right fielder Socrates Brito came in. Brito appeared to call Segura off, but at the last instant, he flinched, thinking there was going to be a collision, and the ball fell for an E-9. The Red Sox went on to score two more unearned runs in the inning.

Betts' RBI single

"I called him off, and when I was coming in, I was looking at the ball, and when I stopped, I looked at Segura a little bit," Brito said. "And when I tried to see the ball again, it was there already. It's my fault. I called him off, and I just missed the ball. That's it." More >

Benintendi keys two rallies: Benintendi continues to make an impressive acclimation to the Major Leagues. In the third, he delivered a key single to left that helped set up Dustin Pedroia's RBI single to right. And in the fifth, Benintendi roped an RBI double to left-center that tied the game.

Benintendi's RBI double

Stealing a pair (of runs): With Michael Bourn on second and Paul Goldschmidt on first, the D-backs pulled off a double steal in the fourth. Buchholz's time to the plate allowed them to feel they could run on him, and it paid off when Jake Lamb's grounder to second turned into an RBI instead of a double play. Goldschmidt was able to score one batter later on Rickie Weeks Jr.'s single.

D-backs' double steal

"It was a good job taking advantage of the time," D-backs manager Chip Hale said. "We look at the times and how we can take advantage of it, so they did a nice job, both of them."

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
This was the first time Ziegler struck out the side since April 10, 2010, when he was pitching for the A's against the Angels.

PEDROIA, BOGAERTS TURN HIGHLIGHT-REEL DP
In the seventh, Segura came close to belting a single up the middle. But Pedroia ranged toward the bag to snag the grounder and then made a gorgeous shovel flip to shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who then fired to first for a sweet double play to end the inning.

Pedroia's quick double play

WHAT'S NEXT
D-backs: Zack Greinke will start Sunday afternoon as Arizona closes out a three-game series with the Red Sox and a six-game road trip with a 10:35 a.m. MST start. Greinke returned from a six-week stint on the disabled list to beat the Mets last Tuesday allowing three runs over six innings.

Red Sox: Boston sends its most consistent starting pitcher to the mound on Sunday in sinkerballer Rick Porcello. First pitch is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. ET. Porcello has gone at least eight innings while allowing three earned runs or fewer in his last three starts.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.