By DOUG ALDEN Associated Press
BOSTON (AP) — Rafael Devers hit a three-run homer, Nick Pivetta pitched eight strong innings and the Boston Red Sox beat the slumping Oakland Athletics 6-1 on Tuesday night.
JD Martinez also homered for Boston, which was back at home after going 8-2 on a West Coast road trip that started with a three-game sweep at Oakland.
The A’s, who had lost 11 of 12 entering Tuesday, didn’t fare any better in Boston. Oakland had just two hits off Pivetta until Stephen Vogt’s solo homer in the eighth broke up the shutout bid. The only other hits for the A’s against the starter were Tony Kemp’s leadoff single in the fourth and Sean Murphy’s single in the fifth.
Pivetta threw 100 pitches and lasted long enough to give his teammates in the bullpen some welcome rest. Phillips Valdez, who took over in the ninth, was the only other pitcher Boston used Tuesday night.
“It was what we needed. We were pretty banged up bullpen-wise. To go eight today was really good for us,” manager Alex Cora said.
After opening the season 0-4, Pivetta (6-5) reeled off victories in five straight starts before his hot streak ended in a loss last Thursday at the Los Angeles Angels. He was back in form on Tuesday, getting an early lead and cruising through seven scoreless innings.
Pivetta allowed one run on three hits, walked two and struck out three.
“I induced a lot of early contact, which really helped me out. Our defense played really tremendous behind me. The guys put up six runs early, so I just kind of allowed myself to kind of get into the game, do some mechanical tweaks and just kind of work through it,” Pivetta said.
Boston scored a run in each of the first two innings, then Martinez led off the third with a homer to center for a 3-0 lead. Devers doubled the margin in the fifth, driving an 0-1 sinker from Jared Koenig out to right-center for his 15th homer of the season after Franchy Cordero and Rob Refsnyder opened the inning with back-to-back-singles.
Koenig (0-2) finished the inning, but was replaced in the fifth by Adam Oller. Koenig allowed six runs on nine hits and two walks. He struck out two and committed a costly balk with runners at second and first in the first, helping set up an RBI single by Bogaerts for the game’s first run.
Ramon Laureano hit a deep fly to the triangle in center field, where Refsnyder made a leaping catch at the base of the wall in the sixth. In the eighth, Refsnyder hit a drive to the warning track and Laureano returned the favor with a leaping grab while still on the run.
Refsnyder said he’s happy to be playing the outfield again after shifting to infielder early as he came up through the minors. He also had quite an offensive night, going 3-for-4 with a sacrifice fly in the second inning.
“I was pretty fortunate today. Kind of got lucky — hit some balls at some guys and fortunately they didn’t make the plays,” Refsnyder said.
Jonah Bride made his big-league debut, starting at third base and batting ninth after being called up from Triple-A Las Vegas on Tuesday. He was hitless in three at-bats.
Bride is the 10th player to make his debut for the A’s this season. Last week, it was Koenig getting called up from Las Vegas just before his first start. Koenig’s second start was Tuesday and manager Mark Kotsay said he saw some good things from the young left-hander, who he said will learn quickly on the job.
“It’s the big-leagues. You’re going to face good lineups and have to get outs,” Kotsay said.
Athletics: Oakland optioned SS Kevin Smith to Las Vegas after recalling Bride.
Red Sox: LHP Chris Sale (ribs) was back with the club after continuing his rehab in Fort Myers, Florida, while the Red Sox were on a long road trip. Sale said he feels he’s getting closer to making his season debut but isn’t quite ready yet. He’s scheduled to throw live BP on Thursday and could get to live pitching in the minors soon after. “Physically, mentally, everything, I feel like I’m ready to start this process and get going, and get back here quick,” Sale said. … OF Christian Arroyo was scratched from the lineup just before gametime because of an illness.
RHP James Kaprielian (0-3, 5.73) gets the start for the Athletics Wednesday night against a Boston pitcher still to be determined before Tuesday night’s game.
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