Nunez hits 3-run HR, Red Sox top Orioles 7-3 for 11-2 start

Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter, second from left, confers with umpires after challenging an out call during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston, Friday, April 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

BOSTON (AP) Eduardo Rodriguez’s second start of the season went considerably better than his first, and the Boston Red Sox kept rolling to their best start in 100 years.

The left-hander struck out eight over six stingy innings, Eduardo Nunez hit a three-run homer and the Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 7-3 on Friday night, improving to 11-2 for only the second time in team history.

Rodriguez lasted just 3 2/3 innings Sunday in his season debut against Tampa Bay, allowing three earned runs and five hits. Five days later he got himself out of an early jam in the first, holding the Orioles to one run on five hits and two walks with a mix of pitches he didn’t show in his initial outing.

”That’s what we want. I want him to attack,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. ”He keeps learning, but you can see it – his stuff is there. He’s electric.”

Rafael Devers went 3 for 5 and scored twice for the Red Sox. J.D. Martinez had a pair of hits and drove in a run with a sacrifice fly during a four-run first inning, which put Boston in command on the way to its 11th victory in 12 games.

Mookie Betts added an RBI double in the second.

The Red Sox had already matched their best 12-game start with a 6-3 win over the Yankees on Thursday night. With this victory, Boston reached 11-2 to equal the 1918 club that went on to win the World Series.

Adam Jones hit a sacrifice fly in the first and Manny Machado had a two-run double in the seventh. Chris Tillman (0-3) struggled through the first two-plus innings for Baltimore, which lost for the third time in four games.

Tillman ”came out a little crisper in the second inning, but just couldn’t get the ball where he needed to get it,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. ”Never really had a lot of things working in his favor. It was a struggle from the start.”

Trey Mancini scored the only run Rodriguez yielded after leading off the game with a single and scoring on Jones’ sacrifice fly. Rodriguez settled down from there, striking out the side in the second and shutting out the Orioles for five straight innings.

Baltimore’s only lead didn’t last long. Betts reached on a leadoff walk, advanced to third on Mitch Moreland’s one-out single and scored on a sacrifice fly by Martinez. Devers followed with a double, putting two on for Nunez, who drove a 1-1 pitch from Tillman into the seats atop the Green Monster.

Tillman faced three batters in the third before getting pulled with the bases loaded and nobody out. He was charged with six runs, seven hits and two walks. He did not have a strikeout for the second time in three starts.

Tillman was removed after hitting Jackie Bradley Jr. with a pitch. Pedro Araujo’s first pitch got past catcher Caleb Joseph, and Devers raced in for another run to make it 6-0.

BALL OF CONFUSION

Jones led off the fourth with a hit down the right-field line, but ended up getting thrown out at second on an alert play by Betts. The ball bounced onto the rolled up tarp and stayed there for Betts to grab and throw to second in time to get Jones, who thought the ball was out of play and slowed up after rounding first.

The Orioles challenged and lost when the replay was reviewed.

”I pretty much just finished the play,” Betts said. ”My instinct was just to grab it and make a play and ask questions later.”

STILL STRONG

The Red Sox held a pregame ceremony featuring survivors of the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013. The ceremony also included families of some of the victims and was the first of three days of events marking the five-year anniversary of the day two homemade bombs exploded near the finish line, killing three and wounding 260.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Orioles: Recalled LHP Donnie Hart from Triple-A Norfolk. … DH Mark Trumbo (right quad strain) will resume a rehab assignment next week after a setback in one game with Double-A Bowie on Tuesday night. … RHP Gabriel Ynoa was getting an MRI on his pitching shoulder.

Red Sox: 1B-DH Hanley Ramirez, who left Thursday’s game with a bruised left wrist after getting hit by a pitch in the first inning against New York, was not in the lineup. … Cora said LHP David Price, who left in the first inning Wednesday with tingling in his pitching hand, will start Tuesday night when the Red Sox open a three-game series at the Los Angeles Angels.

UP NEXT

Orioles: RHP Alex Cobb, who signed as a free agent in March, makes his Orioles debut. Cobb went 10-12 last year with a 3.66 ERA for Tampa Bay in his first full year back after missing nearly two seasons because of Tommy John surgery.

Red Sox: RHP Hector Velazquez (1-0, 3.12) gets his second start after holding Tampa Bay to one run over 5 2/3 innings on April 1.

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