BOSTON -- Just when it seemed Chris Sale could be in for a tough-luck loss, the Red Sox dramatically surged back with seven runs in the bottom of the seventh and stunned the Rangers, 9-4, on Wednesday night at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox's offense, uncharacteristically inconsistent through the early weeks of the season, has regained its groove in dramatic fashion, scoring 32 runs in the last three games.
"Tonight was a little bit different than it's been the last couple games," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "Tonight was the ability to gain a little momentum, keep it going, string some hits together to build a big inning. To see the momentum built, particularly here, and feed off the energy of our crowd, just a really good seventh inning tonight."
The rally started against Rangers lefty starter Martin Perez and continued in a big way against reliever Sam Dyson (no outs, four hits, three walks). After Josh Rutledge tied it with a pinch-hit single, Mitch Moreland scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch. Dustin Pedroia's two-run single opened it up further.
"The seventh inning has been a challenge for us in quite a few games this year," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "[I] felt Martin [was] in control where the pitch count was, still strong. Dyson has had a few outings where he has thrown the ball extremely well. The electric sinker just didn't have it tonight. ... The inability of making a quality pitch when we needed to."
Sale gave up six hits and four runs (three earned) over 7 1/3 innings, walking one and striking out six. The lefty came up short in his bid for history, as another double-digit strikeout game would have given him nine straight, which would have broken a Major League record he shared with Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez.
"Yeah, it's huge," Sale said. "Seven runs right there. The guys pulled through in a game where I was probably pretty mediocre. Our guys picked me up. It seemed like we would score a run and I'd give it right back. Back-to-back innings, they never gave up on me; they never gave up on us. That's big for me, that's big for the team. It's nice to see that."
Though the game was tied, 1-1, Sale still had a no-hitter when he took the mound to open the fifth. But with one out, Mike Napoli bashed a solo homer to the back row of the Monster Seats to give the Rangers their first lead. It was Napoli's first homer at Fenway Park since he left the Red Sox in a trade to the Rangers in August 2015. Joey Gallo's RBI single pinned Sale in a 3-1 hole.
From there, however, it was all Red Sox, as the bats gave Sale (5-2, 2.34 ERA) the type of support he lacked early in the season.
"If we get going on a roll, we can do some damage," said Sale. "Shoot, we exploded for seven in one inning, I think we scored 10 in another inning [earlier in the season]. We've had some big innings. When things aren't going right, just do your job and my guys will pick me up."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Travis' single sparks big rally: Travis was the igniter in the game-turning rally in the bottom of the seventh, as he smoked a single to right-center that put runners at the corners with one out. With that hit, Travis became the first Red Sox player to have two hits in his Major League debut since Will Middlebrooks accomplished the feat on May 2, 2012.
"Yeah, I was just trying to get the team going," said Travis. "Down one run at the time and coming up, just trying to make something happen late in the game, and we were able to get some momentum going."
Pinch, pinch, tie game: After that single by Travis, Red Sox manager John Farrell went to Moreland to pinch-hit for Sandy Leon, and he delivered a hard single to right against his former team to make it a one-run game. Farrell then went to his bench again, this time calling on Rutledge to hit for Deven Marrero. Rutledge game through as well, drilling an RBI single to right to tie the game.
"Guys were ready and prepared, came in and put good swings on some pitches," said Farrell.
"Was I laughing? I couldn't even tell you. I don't even know what I was thinking about. I think I was just kind of happy." -- Travis, on his reaction after his first career hit
"That inning was just crazy." Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos, on Boston's seventh inning
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Moreland is 16-for-32 (.500) as a pinch-hitter since the start of the 2014 season.
WHAT'S NEXT Rangers: Right-hander Nick Martinez pitches for the Rangers against the Red Sox at 6:05 p.m. CT Thursday at Fenway Park. Martinez is coming off his first win of the season, allowing one unearned run over five innings in a 5-3 victory over the Tigers. He is 0-2 with a 6.23 ERA in three career starts against Boston.
Red Sox: Left-hander Drew Pomeranz, who has pitched four innings or less in his last three starts, takes the ball in Thursday night's finale of this three-game series against the Rangers. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. ET. Pomeranz has gone six innings twice in his eight starts.