BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox weren’t getting much done this season. That’s why the defending World Series champions turned to their youth.
With five rookies in the starting lineup, the last-place Red Sox chased Chicago ace Chris Sale and rallied from a four-run deficit to beat the White Sox 5-4 on Wednesday night. The victory snapped Boston’s four-game losing streak.
“Once we got Sale out of the game, then we were able to create opportunities,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “Tip your hat to a very, very good pitcher. But we didn’t roll over by any means.”
Sale had allowed just four hits when he left the game with two outs in the eighth inning and a 4-0 lead. But Jake Petricka faced four batters and couldn’t get an out, and by the time Javy Guerra (0-1) retired Mike Carp to end the eighth it was 4-3.
With one out in the ninth, Guerra hit Mookie Betts – who was playing his sixth major league game – and then gave up a double to pinch-hitter Daniel Nava. Brock Holt, another rookie, singled for the first walk-off hit of his career.
The win was just the second for Boston in its last nine games.
“We were able to finish it off, which is something we haven’t been able to do recently,” Holt said. “So it’s a good feeling.”
Sale is in contention for the last spot on the AL All-Star team, a fan vote that will be announced Thursday. An All-Star the last two seasons, the left-hander walked none and struck out six before his bullpen cost him a chance to improve to 9-1.
“Put that all on me. I’ve got to go in there and shut the door,” Guerra said. “He deserves a win every time he throws the ball that way. The guy’s special. He deserves a win.”
Koji Uehara (5-2), who was added to the AL All-Star team earlier Wednesday, earned the win.
Jose Abreu and Conor Gillaspie homered to help stake Chicago, which had won three straight, to a 4-0 lead. Sale did not allow a runner to reach third base until the eighth, when Betts led off with an odd double – he beat out an infield single and took second when he noticed no one was covering – then moved up on a groundout.
After getting Holt to ground out, Sale was replaced by Petricka and the Red Sox saw their chance.
“He’s one of the best pitchers in the game,” Nava said. “Whether he’s an All-Star or not, he’s an All-Star-caliber pitcher.”
Abreu hit a solo homer to deep center field in the first inning, his 28th of the season. Only Mark McGwire, who had 33 homers at the 1987 All-Star break, hit more in the first half of his rookie season.
Gillaspie added a solo shot in the second, and the White Sox made it 3-0 when he doubled and scored in the fourth. Tyler Flowers and Adam Eaton had consecutive doubles in the seventh to make it 4-0.
It stayed that way until White Sox manager Robin Ventura pulled Sale with two outs in the eighth, and Petricka couldn’t get an out.
The Red Sox had a few good plays in the field, though, thanks largely to their young players. It was the earliest in the season the Red Sox have started five rookies in a game since 1952.
Rookie center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. made a diving catch of Flowers’ line drive in the second. In the seventh, Eaton doubled off the Green Monster, with the ball coming down off left fielder Jonny Gomes’ nose. Gomes retrieved it and made a throw that was relayed by rookie third baseman Xander Bogaerts to catcher Christian Vazquez, who was making his major-league debut.
Gomes spent the rest of the half-inning plugging his nose with his undershirt, apparently to keep it from bleeding, but remained in the game.