Sweeney busy in Red Sox debut

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Sweeney busy in Red Sox debut

DETROIT -- It seemed no matter what he did, Ryan Sweeney was in the middle of most of the action Thursday as he made his regular season debut in a Red Sox uniform.

In his second at-bat in the fifth inning, Sweeney singled to left off Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander.

As it turned out, that would be the last hit the Red Sox mustered off last year's Cy Young Award-winner and American League MVP.

"He's a tough pitcher," said Sweeney of Verlander. "He nibbles and he gets good pitches and he gets you to chase stuff and he's a tough pitcher to face."

In the top of the eighth, with Tigers clinging to a 1-0 lead, Austin Jackson drove a ball to deep right and Sweeney, who has a reputation as a plus defender, seemed to turn the wrong way as he went back on the ball.

"It was a hard-hit ball," said Sweeney, "and I took a drop step back. It kind of tailed on me, so I had to turn back around. It was out of my reach and I just couldn't get it."

At the time, right field was bathed in some shadows, but Sweeney said the contrast of light and shadows wasn't an issue.

"It's hard to explain, but some of the balls were doing weird stuff out there today," said Sweeney. "I don't know if it was because of the wind or what."

Jackson later came around to score a run for Detroit, giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead heading into the ninth.

The Tigers then turned to closer Jose Valverde, who was a perfect 49-for-49 in save opportunities last season.

But the Sox chipped away against Valverde, getting an opposite-field leadoff double, a single from Adrian Gonzalez which sent Pedroia to third and a sacrifice fly from David Ortiz, which netted the Sox a run.

A stolen base by pinch-runner Darnell McDonald gave the Sox a baserunner in scoring position and Sweeney delivered him when he laced a triple into the right field corner.

"He fell behind 2-and-0 and then he threw me an elevated fastball and missed that," said Sweeney of Valverde. "Then he threw me a split-finger down-and-in and I put a good swing on it.

"I thought I got (enough of it to hit it out) at first when I hit it, but it hit off the wall and got away from (defensive replacement Don Kelly)."

That tied the game and handed Valverde his first blown save since September 2, 2010.

"That was huge and it just goes to show that we're not going to give up," said Sweeney. "To (come back) against Valverde, that's a huge accomplishment right there. But we just didn't score enough runs today."

Andrew Benintendi leads Red Sox past Nationals in 8-1 win

Andrew Benintendi leads Red Sox past Nationals in 8-1 win

Andrew Benintendi excelled in his early-game action against Nationals starter Joe Ross in the Red Sox' 8-1 win. Benintendi finished the contest 2 of 2 with a triple and two RBIs. Dustin Pedroia helped Benintendi at the top of the lineup. Pedroia was 2 of 2 with a double and two RBIs.

Kyle Kendrick got the Red Sox pitching staff off to a strong start in his four-inning appearance. The 32-year-old righty had six strikeouts and allowed five hits with one earned run. Kendricks performance should ease some anxiety in Boston, as Drew Pomeranz headed to the disabled list.

Reliever Ben Taylor, 24, pitched the final two innings for the Sox, and had four strikouts with three hits allowed and no runs.

Chris Sale will pitch Friday for the Red Sox at 4:05 a.m against the Nationals.

Hernandez's fiancee: I learned to keep my mouth shut and not ask questions

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Hernandez's fiancee: I learned to keep my mouth shut and not ask questions

BOSTON -- Former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez's fiancee testified in his double-murder trial Thursday that she learned to keep her mouth shut and "not to ask any questions" in certain situations.

Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez testified against Hernandez under a grant of immunity from prosecutors. She and Hernandez have a 4-year-old daughter. She said she took Hernandez's last name in 2015.

Hernandez is accused of fatally shooting two men in Boston in July 2012 after an encounter at a Boston nightclub. He is also charged with witness intimidation in the shooting of Alexander Bradley, allegedly to silence him about the killings.

Jenkins-Hernandez repeatedly said she could not recall details about conversations with Hernandez after the 2012 killings and after Bradley's shooting in 2013.

She said she didn't ask Hernandez for details about Bradley's shooting, even though Hernandez and Bradley were close friends.

"[Bradley] was not my friend . . . Yes, it's a sad situation [but] why should I press about something like that?" she said.

Jenkins-Hernandez also said she did not recall getting a call from Hernandez at 2:37 a.m. on July 16, 2012, minutes after prosecutors say Hernandez shot Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado as they sat in a car at a stop light in Boston. Prosecutors said phone records show a 17-second call from Hernandez to her at that time.

Hernandez has denied shooting the men. His lawyer told the jury during opening statements that Bradley shot the men over a drug deal.

Bradley testified he saw Hernandez shoot the men. He also said Hernandez shot him in the face months later after he made a remark about the Boston shootings.

Hernandez is already serving a life sentence after being convicted in the 2013 killing of a man who was dating the sister of Jenkins-Hernandez.