David Hamilton sparks Red Sox's biggest comeback of the season in win over Phillies


BOSTON — The youth movement for the Boston Red Sox has not come without its growing pains.

The Red Sox have endured plenty of nights in which rookie mistakes or inexperience has cost them games.

Wednesday was not one of those nights. In fact, it offered a glimmer of what the future might look like when this team is clicking on all cylinders.

Staked to a 4-0 deficit after a rough four-inning start from Nick Pivetta, the Red Sox battled back against the best team in the majors. A five-run fifth inning, sparked by rookies at the bottom of the lineup, propelled the Red Sox to their largest comeback win of the season in an 8-6 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.

“Honestly, I think that’s a thing we can do all the time,” said Jarren Duran after a three-hit night. “It’s just hard. We all know the big leagues is hard, but today we really kept it simple. We stayed with the game plan and we backed each other up.

“We have a lot of young guys that are grinding. And I feel like when we back each other up, that’s when we feel really confident as a team and we could do great things.”

The win moved the Red Sox back to .500, at 34-34, for the 17th time this season. On one hand, the team could be derided for its mediocrity; on the other, they are finding ways to win amidst a slew of injuries with several young, unproven players.

They split a series with the Braves last week. They’ve split the first two games against the Phillies this week, all without Triston Casas, Wilyer Abreu, Vaughn Grissom and, of course, Trevor Story. Meanwhile Tyler O’Neill, who sat out over the weekend with a sore knee, returned to the lineup and immediately made a difference. Masataka Yoshida, who missed a month with a thumb strain, looked comfortable in his return on Tuesday.

If nothing else, the Red Sox are making things interesting. Following one of the more satisfying wins of the season, there was the realization of what this team could be if healthy.

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The Red Sox offense hit the ball hard through the first three innings off Phillies starter Cristopher Sánchez, who entered the day with a 2.71 ERA, but had nothing to show for it. Then Rafael Devers injected some life into the Red Sox in fourth with a triple to right field, his third of the season. It marked the first extra-base hit Sánchez had given up to a lefty hitter all year. Jamie Westbrook drove Devers in with a sacrifice fly to cut the Phillies lead to 4-1.

Too often this season the Red Sox have folded after falling into an early deficit. They’d entered the night 9-23 when opponents scored first. But the bottom of the lineup offered a spark in the fifth that ignited a much-needed rally.

David Hamilton, who currently leads qualified rookies with a .296 average and .348 on-base percentage, singled to right to open the inning. Ceddanne Rafaela singled to left and then advanced to second after seeing left fielder David Dahl throw the ball into third base, putting two speedy runners in scoring position with no outs.

Duran used his own speed on a high infield chopper to reach safely. Phillies second baseman Whit Merrifield rushed his throw, which sailed past first base, allowing Duran to reach second and both runners to score, bringing the Red Sox to within 4-3 and knocking Sánchez out of the game.

“I like to think that our lineup causes defenses to have to rush, but they’re big leaguers,” Duran said. “I’m not going to say that it’s because of us, but I’d like to think it’s because of us. We run the ball out hard every time. I make sure I run the ball hard every time just you never know what’s going to happen.”

Rob Refsnyder gave the Red Sox a fourth straight hit with another single and O’Neill hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game.

After Devers struck out, Connor Wong added another single before pinch-hitter Enmanuel Valdez came to the plate and doubled off the wall scoring two runs, with Wong racing around the bases all the way from first. Valdez was tagged out trying to advance to third to end the inning, but a rejuvenated Red Sox offense didn’t want to waste its lead over the Phillies.

Pivetta had a rough start in which he issued a season-high four walks and threw 93 pitches in four innings, but the bullpen held the Phillies down over the final five frames. Cam Booser, Zack Kelly, Brennan Bernardino, Justin Slaten and Kenley Jansen kept a dangerous lineup from creeping back in it. Kelly allowed a run in the seventh and Jansen gave up one in the ninth, but by that point the Red Sox had added to their lead thanks to a two-run homer from Hamilton.

Hamilton has now recorded multiple hits in five of his last six games with a 1.116 OPS in that span. He has now created an everyday role for himself after joining the team in April following Story’s injury and initially struggling at the plate and in the field.

“We can talk about player development, all that, but if you’re producing, you’re gonna play, that’s the way it is,” manager Alex Cora said. “It’s a business. If you’re doing the job, we’ll find at-bats for you. And he’s doing an amazing job and he’s going to keep playing.”

The Red Sox have a chance to win the series against the Phillies on Thursday with Tanner Houck on the mound, but their offense will have a tough task against right-hander Aaron Nola. The Red Sox season has been full of big wins followed by tough losses, but any momentum after a clutch win on Wednesday would help.

“All in all, the team effort was really good,” Pivetta said after Wednesday’s win. “Just love to see those guys fight back.”

(Photo of Hamilton after his home run: Brian Fluharty / USA Today)





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