PITTSBURGH (AP) — Brayan Bello allowed one hit in six innings, Rob Refsnyder hit his first home run of the season and the Boston Red Sox breezed past the struggling Pittsburgh Pirates 8-1 on Friday night.

Bello (3-1) struck out seven and walked two. The lone hit he surrendered was a leadoff double by Jack Suwinski in the bottom of the second. Bello retired the last 11 batters he faced as the Red Sox bounced back from a dismal homestand by handing the Pirates their fourth straight loss.

“Went out there to compete every inning,” Bello said through a translator. “This is what I wanted since the offseason, since I started working out, showing the kind of pitcher that I am.”

Refsnyder, who made his season debut Thursday after being activated off the injured list, hit a two-run shot with one out in the fifth that chased Quinn Priester (0-1). Wilyer Abreu, Triston Casas and Ceddanne Rafaela also homered for Boston. Abreu finished 3 for 5, while Refsnyder and Connor Wong each had two hits.

Cam Booser, a 31-year-old left-handed reliever who walked away from baseball and became a carpenter after the 2017 season, allowed a run in the ninth in his major league debut.

Booser’s teammates showered him with beer, ketchup, water and whatever else was available in the clubhouse afterward.

“I wasn’t expecting anything like that,” said Booser, who allowed a triple to Alika Williams but also struck out five-time All-Star Andrew McCutchen. “That was very special to me. And it just tied into how special the whole day was. I’ll remember every part of today for the rest of my life.”

Priester, a 2019 first-round pick who was called up from Triple-A Indianapolis on Thursday, struggled in his first big league start of the season.

The 22-year-old right-hander gave up solo shots to Abreu and Casas in the first inning and labored from there. Priester, whose return to the majors following a bumpy 2023 was powered by improved command that helped him pile up 20 strikeouts in three starts, struck out just two while giving up five runs, four earned, in 4 1/3 innings.

“I think it comes down to you have to execute in the big leagues,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said of Priester. “If you don’t make pitches and put yourself into deficit counts, then balls are gonna get hit hard and I think that’s what we saw.”

Pittsburgh has cooled following a 9-3 start. The Pirates have dropped seven of nine since, with much of the attention turning to 2023 No. 1 overall pick Paul Skenes. The right-hander struck out eight in 3 1/3 innings for Indianapolis on Thursday, though Pittsburgh insists it is in no hurry to bring him up.

Boston, like the Pirates, started hot. The Red Sox won seven of 10 to begin the season before dropping seven of 10 during a 10-game homestand against Baltimore, the Los Angeles Angels and Cleveland. Injuries to prominent players have piled up, though the starting rotation has been among the best in the majors despite losing Lucas Giolito for the season to Tommy John surgery in March.

Red Sox starters have posted a 1.71 ERA through 21 games, with 114 strikeouts against 27 walks.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Red Sox: 3B Rafael Devers (bruised left knee) was held out of the lineup for a second straight game, though manager Alex Cora is hopeful Devers won’t need a trip to the injured list. … RHP Nick Pivetta (right elbow) is “trending” in the right direction according to Cora. Pivetta will throw a bullpen session soon.

Pirates: C Yasmani Grandal (left foot) served as the designated hitter for Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday after catching seven innings Thursday. … LHP Marco Gonzalez (left forearm) is shut down for at least the next two weeks.

UP NEXT

The three-game interleague series continues Saturday. Kutter Crawford (0-0, 0.42 ERA) starts for Boston against Pittsburgh’s Mitch Keller (2-1, 4.50).

___

AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB

(Copyright (c) 2024 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox