Gregory Polanco, Neil Walker and Ike Davis all homered and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Boston Red Sox 9-1 on Wednesday night to maintain their grip on the second National League wild card spot.

Polanco and Walker hit solo shots off Boston starter Clay Buchholz (8-9) and Davis drilled a three-run blast to center off reliever Steven Wright. The Pirates have won 10 of 12 and improved to a season-high 11 games over .500 (81-70).

Francisco Liriano (6-10) won his third straight start, allowing one run in six innings. The left-hander has given up two runs or less in 11 of his 12 starts since the All-Star break.

Boston rookie centerfielder Rusney Castillo went 1 for 4 in his major league debut. The Cuban defector signed a seven-year, $72.5-million deal with the Red Sox last month. Boston has lost three of four.

Castillo’s arrival in the Red Sox clubhouse on Wednesday afternoon ended a quick tour of the team’s minor league system. He made stops at three different levels before coming up to Boston to stay.

While manager John Farrell stressed the final games of an otherwise lost season are simply a chance for Castillo to “get acclimated” to life in the big leagues, the 27-year-old believes it won’t take long for him to get up to speed. He provided a brief glimpse of what’s to come in the fourth when he ripped a sharp grounder to second that Walker couldn’t handle for his first major league hit.

While Castillo is a part of Boston’s long-term future, the present belongs to the Pirates.

Pittsburgh assured itself of a second straight non-losing season following a record two decades of futility by knocking around Buchholz behind an offense that has quietly become one of the most productive in the National League.

Polanco wasted little time drumming Buchholz, who came in riding a three-game winning streak. The rookie drilled a Buchholz fastball into the seats in right for his seventh homer of the season and first since Aug. 10.

The lead ballooned to 4-0 in the second behind a two-run double by Clint Barmes. Walker golfed a Buchholz pitch into the first row of seats in right for his 21st homer of the season in the fourth, extending his record for most home runs in a season by a Pittsburgh second baseman.

Davis ended any drama in the fifth with a three-run homer to center, his 11th of the season and 10th with Pittsburgh. The Pirates have nine players with at least 10 home runs, a club record for a single season.

It was more than enough cushion for Liriano, who got out of a bases loaded-jam in the first and cruised, looking more like the player that won 16 games in 2013 than the one who struggled before the All-Star break this season.


Red Sox: 2B Brock Holt continues to work his way back from a concussion sustained in a collision with Dustin Pedroia on Aug. 25. Holt is scheduled to meet with concussion specialist Micky Collins on Thursday. Farrell said Holt is doing daily vision exercises and running on a treadmill but has not started baseball related activities. Farrell is optimistic Holt can return before the end of the season.

Pirates: SS Jordy Mercer was held out for a second straight game to deal with a back issue. RHP Charlie Morton reported no issues a day after pitching five shutout innings in his first start in a month due to a hernia issue. Manager Clint Hurdle said he’s still hasn’t made a decision on who will start when Morton’s turn in the rotation comes up again on Sunday against Milwaukee.


Red Sox: Brandon Workman (1-9) will try to end a nine-game losing streak when he makes his 15th start of the season. Workman’s only victory of the season came on June 10 against Baltimore. His ERA is a season-high 5.27 after giving up five earned runs in three innings of a 10-6 loss to Baltimore last week.

Pirates: Gerrit Cole (9-5) goes for his third straight victory. The 24-year-old struck out six and walked one while working six innings in a 7-3 victory over Chicago in his previous start.

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox