ATLANTA (AP) — Red Sox manager Alex Cora thinks a lot of people aren’t impressed with his team despite its 41-27 record.
“We show up, we love playing the game and we know we’ll be answering questions throughout the season and rightfully so,” he said. “We’re not that great. We just have a good baseball team and we just keep getting better.”
Alex Verdugo hit a tiebreaking, three-run homer off Chris Martin in the eighth inning, Rafael Devers added a three-run homer and drove in four runs, and the Red Sox beat the Atlanta Braves 10-8 on Tuesday night.
Xander Bogaerts’ 13th homer made it 6-4 in the fifth inning as Boston improved to 36-4, best in the major leagues, when scoring at least four runs. The Red Sox have won four of six overall.
Devers, who went 3 for 5, doubled in the fifth and scored on Hunter Renfroe’s single to make it 7-4. Devers stayed hot after beginning the game ranked among the top 10 in the majors in RBIs, extra-base hits, doubles, homers, slugging percentage and total bases.
Verdugo’s ninth homer came with two outs and made it 10-7. Martin (0-3) gave up three hits and three runs.
“Off the bat, I knew I hit it well, but the ball just kept carrying,” Verdugo said. “I was fortunate enough to get it over the fence. The thought process behind that at-bat was the at-bat before I chased an offspeed pitch and hit it weakly to first base. My goal was just basically let the ball get deep, let it travel and try to stay up the middle as best I could.”
Martin credited Verdugo with taking advantage of his mistake.
“I missed by a lot,” Martin said. “I was trying to throw a splitter down and I knew I had a base open and obviously a good hitter on deck. I like both matchups, but I just didn’t make the pitch. I left the pitch up in the zone and he did damage.”
Hirokazu Sawamura (3-0) earned the win after facing the minimum in the seventh. Matt Barnes earned his 15th save in 18 chances after facing five batters and giving up a run in the ninth.
The Red Sox led 4-0 in the first against rookie Tucker Davidson when Kike Hernández and Verdugo singled and Devers hit his 16th homer, a 435-foot shot to center. Renfroe followed with his eighth homer as the Sox went back-to-back.
Boston went up 5-0 in the third as J.D. Martinez hit a stand-up triple and scored on Devers’ single off Sean Newcomb.
Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez allowed four runs and six hits in four innings.
“We had a five-run lead and you saw what happened,” Cora said. “He had the bottom of the lineup and he didn’t do his job. I think early on he established his fastball in, he did a good job and then wasn’t able to execute.”
Braves rookie Tucker Davidson began the game having pitched 11 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings before suffering left forearm tightness and leaving with one out in the third and runners on the corners. He allowed five hits, five runs and one walk with four strikeouts, and manager Brian Snitker said Davidson will likely go on the injured list on Wednesday.
Atlanta, which has dropped five of six, trimmed the lead to 5-1 in the third on Freddie Freeman’s RBI single and 5-4 in the three-run fourth on Abraham Almonte’s RBI double and Ronald Acuña Jr.’s two-run double.
The Braves tied it at 7-all in the three-run sixth on Guillermo Heredia’s RBI single, catcher Christian Vazquez’s passed ball with the bases loaded and Freeman’s sacrifice fly. Two of the runs were unearned.
“It was an ugly win, but it was a big-league win,” Cora said after watching his team commit three errors. “We kept putting up good at-bats and in the end the bullpen shut down the door, but it wasn’t pretty.”
Red Sox: LHP Chris Sale (Tommy John recovery) threw a bullpen session at Triple-A Worcester. … RHP Tanner Houck (right flexor muscle) will pitch three innings at Worcester on Thursday.
Braves: Acuña, who went 2 for 5, was back in the lineup after tweaking a pectoral muscle and leaving Sunday’s win at Miami. … Snitker said the team has yet to discuss how RHP Mike Soroka (Achilles) will be used when he’s cleared to return. Snitker added that Soroka has yet to start throwing yet after his most recent setback and that it’s premature to speculate.
Cora, who served a year’s suspension for his role in the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal, has pressed home the importance to Boston pitchers about being careful not to violate Major League Baseball’s new rules that ban foreign substances being wiped on balls. Beginning Monday, pitchers are subject to ejection and a 10-game suspension if caught by umpires.
“I know how embarrassing that is and how tough that is, not only on you as a person but your family, your friends and the people that love you,” Cora said. “Ten games, a year, two years, three years — it doesn’t matter. Being suspended is hell, and you don’t want to go through that. I was very open with them, and hopefully they understand that.”
Boston improved to 19-0 when scoring seven runs or more.
Red Sox RHP Garrett Richards (4-4, 4.09 ERA) faces RHP Ian Anderson (4-3, 3.26) in the finale of the two-game series.
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