WASHINGTON (AP) — Stone Garrett and the Washington Nationals were determined not to waste a superb start by MacKenzie Gore that ended early because of a cracked fingernail and blister.
Keibert Ruiz hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the eighth inning, Garrett homered twice for the first time in his career, and the Nationals beat the Boston Red Sox 6-2 on Wednesday night.
“You always want to do well for your starting pitcher when he’s lights-out like that,” Garrett said. “Never felt like we were out of it or low-energy. We kept the energy going.”
After Lane Thomas singled and Joey Meneses was hit by a pitch leading off the eighth, Ruiz drove an 0-1 changeup from Garrett Whitlock (5-4) to right-center to make it 5-2. Two pitches later, Garrett hit a no-doubt, 442-foot liner to center, his ninth of the season. Garrett also homered leading off the fourth.
Gore allowed one hit while pitching into the seventh inning for Washington but departed with one out after throwing a first-pitch ball to Trevor Story. The second-year left-hander threw 85 pitches and said he expects the middle finger on his pitching hand to be fine in time for his next start.
“Just sweating and the skin getting soft, it’s something that I always have to deal with,” Gore said.
Jordan Weems came in and retired Story on a double-play grounder but gave up a tying, two-run homer to Pablo Reyes in the eighth that awakened the pro-Red Sox crowd of 26,507. Jose A. Ferrer (2-0) got the final two outs of the inning.
Michael Chavis hit his second homer of the season for the light-hitting Nationals, who entered the night with the second-fewest homers in the majors, ahead of only Cleveland.
Boston fell to 7-7 in August and squandered a chance to get closer to AL East rival Toronto in the AL wild-card race, remaining three games behind.
“It is what it is. We haven’t been great, but we’ve just got to be ready for tomorrow,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said.
Rebuilding Washington has won 13 of 16 at home and improved to 20-13 since July 8.
“A lot of it has to do with our starting pitchers keeping us in games, and our bullpen, as taxed as they are, coming in and throwing strikes and being aggressive and getting big outs for us,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said.
Gore retired the first 10 batters, struck out seven and faced one batter over the minimum through six. He outdueled veteran lefty James Paxton, who gave up two runs on five hits in six innings.
“He had a good fastball,” Cora said. “We missed a lot of fastballs early in counts, and he was able to expand afterward. His fastball up is a good one.”
The Nationals hope the 24-year-old Gore, acquired in the trade that sent Juan Soto to San Diego, can be a top-line starter for years to come.
“He can be really good,” Ruiz said. “For him, when he attacks the zone, he throws a lot of strikes, he’s really good.”
Red Sox first baseman Triston Casas had six unassisted putouts — three grounders, three popups — through four innings, recording all three outs in the first.
Red Sox: RHP Tanner Houck (facial fracture) is expected to rejoin the team Monday after his final rehab outing Wednesday. … SS Adalberto Mondesí (left knee surgery) has been shut down from baseball activities after not feeling great while ramping up. … RHP Zack Kelly (right elbow surgery) threw a 25-pitch bullpen on Wednesday.
Nationals: RHP Tanner Rainey (Tommy John recovery) is set to begin a rehab assignment with Class A Fredericksburg, and RHP Mason Thompson (left knee contusion) will pitch Thursday for Double-A Harrisburg.
Boston’s Chris Sale (5-2, 4.52 ERA) is expected to throw about 75 pitches in his second start since a 10-week stint on the injured list with a stress reaction in his left shoulder blade, Cora said. Sale worked 4 2/3 innings last Friday, retiring Detroit’s first 14 batters. Another veteran lefty, Patrick Corbin (7-11, 4.85) starts for Washington.
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