Leon’s blast lifts Red Sox past Bucs

Boston Red Sox's Sandy Leon (left) is tagged out at home plate by Pittsburgh Pirates' Francisco Cervelli (29) on a single by Dustin Pedroia during the third inning of a baseball game in Boston, Wednesday, April 5, 2017. (AP)

BOSTON (AP) – Sandy Leon hit a three-run homer in the 12th inning – his third hit of the game – and Chris Sale pitched seven dominant innings in his Red Sox debut to lead Boston to a 3-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night.

Leon also doubled in the third inning but got thrown out at the plate after running through third base coach Brian Butterfield’s stop sign. It was scoreless into the bottom of the 12th, when Antonio Bastardo (0-1) walked Jackie Bradley Jr. and Pablo Sandoval with one out.

Leon followed with a drive over the Green Monster to end a cold night for the Red Sox, who also beat Pittsburgh in the season opener on Monday.

Joe Kelly (1-0), the sixth Red Sox pitcher, earned the victory with two innings of one-hit relief.

Sale was Boston’s big offseason addition when he was acquired from the Chicago White Sox for a package of minor leaguers that included No. 1 prospect Yoan Moncada. On a night when the temperatures dipped into the 30s, Sale allowed three hits, walked one and struck out seven.

Jameson Taillon matched Sale’s shutout for seven innings, allowing five hits while walking three and striking out six.

The Red Sox did threaten against him in the third, when Leon doubled down the right field line with two outs. But the Red Sox catcher was easily thrown out at home by right fielder Andrew McCutchen. Newly acquired first baseman Mitch Moreland also hit a ball deep in the fourth, but McCutchen caught it at the short bullpen wall.

Boston loaded the bases with two outs in the 10th, but Pirates closer Tony Watson retired opening day hero Andrew Benintendi on a weak grounder to second to end the inning.

The Red Sox have won seven straight interleague games at Fenway Park.


Red Sox: OF Mookie Betts missed the game with the flu. Brock Holt and Robbie Ross were also stricken with a bug. … David Price threw long toss from 100 feet and also made about 25 pitches from a mound. “The most encouraging thing is every throwing session he goes through, he comes out feeling good physically,” manager John Farrell said. … Bradley clutched his left leg after getting spiked on a stolen base in the 12th, but he remained in the game.


Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl (5-4 in 2016) will pitch the series finale.

Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (3-7 last season) makes his 2017 debut in the matinee game.