Sox stretching out Morales

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Sox stretching out Morales

BOSTON In his previous outing Sunday in Toronto left-hander Franklin Morales went 4 13 innings, more than doubling his prior career high in a relief appearance. In Saturdays 4-2 loss to the Nationals, he entered in the sixth inning with the Red Sox trailing by four runs.

He pitched a perfect three innings with three strikeouts.

In his last two outings combined, he has gone 7 13 scoreless innings, giving up two hits with no walks and seven strikeouts, lowering his overall ERA to 3.04.

Thats what I try to do, Morales said. I try to hold the other team, to do my thing, give my team a chance to get a couple runs. Thats what I try to do, throw strikes, and make my pitches.

Morales struck out three of the last four batters he faced Rick Ankiel swinging at a curveball, pinch-hitter Tyler Moore looking at a 96-mph fastball, and Bryce Harper swinging at a curveball.

When I pitch I dont think for a strikeout, Morales said. I pitch to get the hitter out and if I have the opportunity, I make my pitch and thats it.

Morales three perfect innings were the most by a Sox reliever this season and the most by a Sox lefty since Jamie Moyers three perfect innings in Oakland on May 28, 1996.

For Morales, who thought he could have gone longer against the Nationals, his last two performances were needed. In the outing against the Blue Jays, he entered with two outs in the second inning after Daniel Bards meltdown, when Bard faced 13 batters, hit two, and gave up five runs.

Saturday against the Nationals, Morales relieved Daisuke Matsuzaka, who was returning to a major league mound for the first time since Tommy John surgery June 10, 2011.

Manager Bobby Valentine knew an early call to the bullpen would be likely.

"That's twice Franklin's pitched in a bit of a long role, Valentine said. We're stretching him out a little, and he's maintaining his stuff, throwing strikes, changing speeds. He's doing a very good job.

Getting Morales stretched out also gives Valentine another pitching option, which he really hasnt had this season an emergency spot starter.

"You have to make as many plans as you can, Valentine said. With the way our bullpen's set up, I think that he has some length in him. I thought he did, and now I have a better feeling that he has some length in him. It's good to have."

For his part, Morales said hell take whatever role is asked of him.

Thats not my decision, he said. But I try to do what I can to help. What I can control is go out there. If you give me an opportunity. Ill take it.

Moreland homers again, Red Sox tag A's to avoid four-game sweep

Moreland homers again, Red Sox tag A's to avoid four-game sweep

OAKLAND, Calif. - A five-run ninth inning for the Red Sox that lasted more than a half-hour derailed any chance Eduardo Rodriguez had of getting his first career complete game.

Not that the left-hander was complaining.

After a bitter loss to Oakland a year ago when he allowed just one hit over eight innings, Rodriguez was more than happy with the way things turned out.

Rodriguez earned his second straight win, Mitch Moreland homered in his third consecutive game and Boston beat the Oakland Athletics 12-3 on Sunday to avoid a four-game sweep.

"I wanted to go back out there but they hit the ball pretty good in that inning and I know I had to get out of the game," Rodriguez said about the long wait. "I'll take it because we score more runs, I have a chance to win. If every inning's like that, I'll get out of the game after five."

Rodriguez (3-1) allowed three runs over eight innings. He struck out eight, walked one and retired 14 of his final 15 batters.

"Where he was with the pitch count, it'd be nice for him to go out there for the ninth inning given where he was and how well he was throwing the baseball," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "But at that point you're up nine, probably about a 35-minute inning, didn't want to take any chances."

Hanley Ramirez and Christian Vazquez had three hits apiece to power a Red Sox lineup that tallied 15 hits. Every player in Boston's starting lineup had at least one hit, and eight of the nine drove in runs.

Chad Pinder homered and drove in two runs for Oakland.

Boston, which hasn't been swept in a four-game series since July 2015, trailed 3-2 before scoring 10 runs over the final five innings.

"It felt we had them on the run a little bit," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "They get the lead and then we come back and take the lead again and you feel pretty good. But they were pretty persistent today."

Pinder went deep in the fourth, his fourth home run in eight games and fifth overall.

The A's committed three errors, giving them a major league-leading 42.

BRADLEY'S DEFENSIVE GEMS

Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts gave the A's trouble with his running and defense. Betts scored twice from first base and also made a pair of strong defensive plays. He made a sliding catch on Mark Canha's sinking liner in the eighth and then slammed into the wall after catching Khris' Davis fly to end the inning.

"This place during the daytime plays very difficult," Farrell said. "What Mookie was able to do a couple times in right field, those aren't easy plays. To be able to stay with it, go up against the wall a couple of times, we played very good outfield defense here today."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: Brock Holt continues to deal with lingering symptoms from vertigo and isn't yet ready to come off the disabled list, according to Farrell. Likewise, Boston plans to keep third baseman Pablo Sandoval in the minors to get consistent at-bats while recovering from a right knee sprain. ... Farrell said LHP Drew Pomeranz, who took the loss Saturday, will start against Texas on Thursday.

Athletics: Yonder Alonso (sore left knee) sat out his fourth straight game but could be back in the lineup Tuesday when Oakland begins a two-game series against Miami. ... Sean Doolittle (strained left shoulder) threw on flat ground before making 15 pitches off the mound. The plan is for the former closer to throw 25 pitches on Wednesday. ... Melvin said the team has applied for an extension on Chris Bassitt's rehab assignment. Bassitt underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello (2-5) faces Texas on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series at Fenway Park. Porcello has lost three of his last four decisions.

Athletics: Following an off day, RHP Jesse Hahn (1-3) starts against Miami on Tuesday at the Coliseum. Hahn leads the majors in fewest home runs allowed per nine innings at 0.19.