Betts’ grounder hits 3B bag, Bosox end 4-game skid, beat A’s

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              Boston Red Sox's Mookie Betts hits a two-run double against the Oakland Athletics during the ninth inning of a baseball game in Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, April 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Boston ended a long scoreless drought with a big swing from birthday boy Blake Swihart. Mookie Betts then helped the Red Sox snap a four-game losing streak with an even more important — yet, strange — hit.

Manager Alex Cora is just thankful things finally broke the right way this season for the World Series champs after a 1-5 start that included back-to-back shutout losses.

Betts’ two-out grounder hit the third base bag and popped into the outfield for a tiebreaking, two-run double in the ninth inning, and the Red Sox beat the Oakland Athletics 6-3 on Wednesday night.

“It has to hit the bag,” Cora said. “If not, (A’s third baseman Matt Chapman) makes the play. That kid is amazing. At least we found a way for him not to make a play.”

With two outs in the ninth and the score 3-all, Blake Swihart and Jackie Bradley Jr. both singled and advanced on a wild pitch by Fernando Rodney (0-1). Betts then hit a grounder down the line and, with Chapman in position to make a backhanded play, the ball struck the base, bounced high in the air and landed in the outfield grass.

Betts wound up on second, and the AL MVP scored on a triple by Andrew Benintendi.

“That’s pretty much the only way you’re going to get it by Chapman,” Betts said. “He’s one of the best, if not the best at third. I was just hoping it hit the base. It’s huge. This was definitely a big win.”

One that left A’s manager Bob Melvin stunned.

“It was a groundball to third and Chapman was going to get him out,” Melvin said. “It’s just unfortunate that it hits the base and ends up being two runs. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”

Swihart finished with three hits, including his first home run of the season. Mitch Moreland had a key two-run double while J.D. Martinez singled to extend his hitting streak to seven games.

Boston avoided its longest losing streak since 2015 after being shut out in the previous two games. Holt helped preserve the 3-all tie in the eighth with a sharp play on a grounder in the hole.

Matt Barnes (1-0) retired four batters. Ryan Brasier pitched the ninth for his first save.

“The guys kept grinding and doing what we needed to do,” Barnes said. “It was a big win.”

Ramon Laureano homered for the A’s.

The Red Sox fell behind 3-0 before rallying.

Oakland scored its first run on a bizarre play when Nick Hundley hit a sharp, one-out liner that knocked the glove off Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers‘ left hand. As his mitt lay on the dirt, Devers fielded the ball barehanded and made a one-hop throw home to Swihart, but the catcher couldn’t hang on as Kendrys Morales slid in safely.

STOPPING THE SKID

The Red Sox avoided their longest losing streak since July 2015 when they lost eight straight. Boston was the only team in 2018 to not have a losing streak longer than four games.

ARE THEY AIMING AT HIM?

Umpire Kerwin Danley has had a rough series, literally. While manning second base, Danley was hit by a throw from the outfield by Bradley following a single by Jurickson Profar in the second inning. On Tuesday, Danley was at third when he was hit by a line drive by Oakland’s Stephen Piscotty, one day after being hit by foul ball while working behind the plate.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Red Sox: 1B/OF Steve Pearce has rejoined the team and is likely to be activated off the injured list before Thursday’s game. Last year’s World Series MVP has been out since March 25 with a left calf strain. … SS Xander Bogaerts was held out of the lineup a day after fouling a ball off his foot, although Cora said Bogaerts was due for a planned day off regardless.

Athletics: Chapman was hit on his left wrist by a slider from Boston starter Nathan Eovaldi in the first inning but stayed in the game.

UP NEXT

Oakland’s Brett Anderson (1-0, 0.00) takes a 34 1/3-inning scoreless streak at the Coliseum into Thursday’s series finale and will oppose Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez (0-1, 10.38) in a matchup of lefties. Rodriguez has allowed three earned runs or fewer in four career starts against the A’s.

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