DETROIT (AP) — Boston manager Alex Cora wants the Red Sox to stop making victories so difficult.
Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers homered, and the Red Sox raced to a lead and held on to beat the Detroit Tigers 9-6 on Friday in a game delayed more than two hours due to rain.
“We’re playing better — don’t get me wrong — but we still need to improve,” Cora said. “When you have a five-run lead, you have to hold it. We made it too tough again.”
Boston’s sixth-inning rally came immediately after the rain delay of two hours, four minutes.
“We played cards and watched some of the summer-league basketball game,” said Mookie Betts, who had three hits and three runs. “It’s not that tough to do.”
Eduardo Rodriguez won for the fifth time in his last eight starts.
“I was throwing the ball well, but we could see the rain was coming in,” said Rodriguez, who was limited to five innings by the delay. “I was feeling good and I was still ready to go when it stopped raining, but then it started again.”
Detroit dropped to 6-23 since June 1 and lost for the 23rd time in 26 home games.
“We had a good crowd tonight, and we really wanted to give them a win,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Our fans have been through some tough times lately, but there were good times before that and more good ones coming.”
Rodriguez (9-4) gave up one run on four hits and a walk while striking out four.
“I was just trying to get quick outs before the rain, and it ended up working pretty well,” he said.
Ryan Carpenter (1-6) lost his third straight game. He allowed three runs on seven hits and a walk in five innings. He struck out four and fell to 1-7 in 11 career outings at Comerica Park.
“I thought Carp did a nice job,” Gardenhire said. “They got him a couple times, but he had good stuff and we were going to send him out for the sixth before the rain got him.”
That wasn’t enough to save Carpenter’s job, though. He was optioned to Triple-A Toledo after the game to make room for a reliever who will join the team before Saturday’s game.
Betts started the game with a double off Carpenter and scored on a pair of groundouts. Boston added two more runs in the third when Betts led off with another hit — a single — and scored on Devers’ 16th homer.
“The way (Devers) is swinging the bat, you feel like he can do damage on any pitch,” Cora said. “He’s a threat.”
Jeimer Candelario’s RBI double made it 3-1 in the fourth as storm clouds moved in. Heavy rain began to fall moments after Rodriguez retired Victor Reyes to end the fifth, and the game was immediately halted.
The teams changed pitchers after the delay; both bullpens struggled.
When play resumed, Boston scored three runs off Jose Cisnero in the sixth. Jackie Bradley Jr. had an RBI double, Betts added a sacrifice fly and a run scored on Candelario’s error at third.
The Tigers scored four times in the bottom of the inning to make it 6-5. Candelario and John Hicks had RBI singles as Betts and Bradley committed outfield errors.
Bogaerts hit a three-run homer off Austin Adams in the eighth, making it 9-5.
Hicks homered in the ninth.
“I loved the fact that we kept swinging the bats and we kept scoring runs,” Gardenhire said. “We’re finally starting to hit the ball, but our bullpen didn’t give us a chance.”
VETERAN ANTHEM PERFORMER
Harold Lanning, a 91-year-old World War II veteran, performed the national anthem. Lanning performed in USO shows during his Army service.
Red Sox: RHP Heath Hembree pitched the ninth for Boston, his first appearance since going on the injured list on June 14 with an elbow strain.
Tigers: C Grayson Greiner continued his rehab assignment with Class A Lakeland on Friday, going 0-2 in his third game. He has been on the injured list since June 15 with a lower-back strain.
TIGERS EXTEND AVILA
Before the game, the Tigers announced a multi-year contract extension for general manager Al Avila. Avila, who has held the job since Aug. 4, 2015, was under contract until the end of the 2020 season. The length of the extension was not announced.
Avila, who worked as an assistant to Dave Dombrowski from 2002 until replacing him, has been overseeing the rebuild of a team that lost 98 games in each of the past two seasons and is on pace to lose 107 in 2019.
Detroit’s Jordan Zimmermann (0-5, 5.36) is to face former Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello (5-7, 5.07) on Saturday in the second of a three-game series. Boston is 4-0 in Porcello’s four starts against his former team.
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