Verdugo hits HR on 25th birthday as Red Sox beat Angels 9-0

MLB Baseball

BOSTON (AP)Alex Verdugo hit a solo homer in his first at-bat on his 25th birthday, Xander Bogaerts also went deep with a game-breaking, three-run shot and the Boston Red Sox beat the stumbling Los Angeles Angels 9-0 on Saturday.

Rafael Devers added a solo shot, Bobby Dalbec hit a two-run double and Franchy Cordero drove in two runs with two doubles for the Red Sox (25-16), who won their third straight and matched their season high by climbing nine games over .500.

”We needed a game like that to be able to rest some players,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. ”It was a great game today.”

Angels star Shohei Ohtani had a rough day, getting cut down on a baserunning blunder after a single in his first at-bat, and striking out his next three.

Martin Perez (1-2) went six innings, holding the Angels to three singles, striking out five with four walks. Three relievers combined on the four-hitter.

Los Angeles (16-22) has lost four in a row, falling to a season-worst six games under .500.

”We’re going through a rough stretch right now. It’s a long season,” Angels star Mike Trout said. ”We’ll turn it around. We’ll be alright.”

Verdugo snapped an 0-for-14 stretch by sending a fastball from Dylan Bundy (0-5) over Boston’s bullpen. After crossing home plate, he pointed up to the front row of seats on the Green Monster, where about a half-dozen fans, with most wearing his jersey, were cheering wildly and holding birthday signs.

”It was a very special moment for me,” Verdugo said. ”I had family that was probably in the back behind home plate and I had my best friend and his family, I put them out on the Monster. They were right by the left-field foul pole holding signs. It was cool.

”I hit the home run and, if I was pointing everywhere, that’s why. I wanted to make sure I got my mom, my dad, my best friend and his family.”

Bogaerts chased Bundy with his shot that left Fenway Park completely over the Monster seats, giving the Red Sox a 7-0 lead in the fifth.

Bundy was tagged for seven runs in four innings, raising his ERA to 6.02.

”Everything was kind of center-cut,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. ”He was missing in the middle.”

OUCH!

Ohtani singled down the left-field line and headed toward second before noticing teammate Taylor Ward standing near the bag. Ohtani broke back but was easily tagged out in a rundown.

”It’s just like a car wreck,” Maddon said when asked who made the wrong read on the play. ”You’re always responsible when you hit somebody from behind.”

He struck out swinging in his second at-bat after fouling a ball off his foot and walking around gingerly.

I’LL TAKE THAT

The Red Sox had scored just nine total runs while Perez was in the game in his seven previous starts. They put up eight on Saturday.

”I think today everything came together,” Perez said. ”The guys swung the bats good.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Red Sox reliever Adam Ottavino revealed sometimes he’ll ask a teammate on the field what they think he should throw in a big spot. He said it started with teammates Troy Tulowitzki and DJ LeMahieu when they played together in Colorado.

”I’ve been doing it a long time in my career,” he said before the game. ”Sometimes you hear it from the great players, and it gives you confidence to throw the pitch with maybe a little more conviction.”

In his first year with Boston, he has started taking advice from Bogaerts. On Friday, he used it – striking out Ohtani with a slider.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Angels: Hoping to improve the majors’ worst staff with a 5.21 ERA entering Saturday, they acquired RHP Hunter Strickland from the Rays for a player to be named or cash.

Red Sox: RHP Garrett Whitlock was placed on the COVID-19 related injured list. Cora said was ”under the weather” after receiving his second vaccine shot. … INF/OF Kike Hernandez (right hamstring strain) was the DH Saturday and is scheduled to play the outfield Sunday in a rehab assignment with Triple-A Worcester.

UP NEXT

Angels: LHP Jose Quintana (0-3, 9.00 ERA) looks to halt an 11-start winless stretch in Sunday’s series finale for his first victory since Sept. 5, 2019, when he was with the Cubs.

Red Sox: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (4-2, 4.20) is set to start. He has a 58-inning homerless stretch, the MLB’s longest active streak.

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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