Sandoval has 3 hits in return to Boston, Braves win 3-1

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BOSTON (AP) — Pablo Sandoval had three hits in his first game at Fenway Park since his disastrous tenure with the Red Sox, and Charlie Morton pitched out of early trouble to lead the Atlanta Braves to a 3-1 win over Boston on Tuesday night.

Sandoval, who was released in 2017 midway through the five-year, $95 million contract he signed with Boston, was booed for every at-bat. But he responded with singles in his first three plate appearances before he grounded out meekly to third to start the eighth.

The 2012 World Series MVP lined one up the middle in the sixth to start the rally that chased Boston starter Garrett Richards (4-3), then scored to give the Braves a 3-1 lead.

Morton (3-2) allowed six of the first eight Boston batters to reach base, loading the bases in the first with nobody out and giving up a leadoff triple in the second. But the Red Sox managed only one run in the first two innings, and Morton retired 13 straight batters after Xander Bogaerts' third-inning single.

In all, Morton gave up one unearned run on three hits, striking out nine and walking two in seven innings for his first victory in a month. Freddie Freeman added two hits for the Braves, who won their fourth straight game to improve to .500.

Will Smith pitched the ninth to seal Atlanta's fourth straight win and earn his eighth save.

Richards, who had won four straight decisions, allowed three runs on six hits and four walks, striking out four in 5 2/3 innings. The Red Sox had won seven of their previous 10 games — but still fell out of first place in the AL East for the first time since April 8 while the Rays ran off 11 wins in a row.

Boston loaded the bases with nobody out in the first inning — on one hit, followed by a walk and an error. Bogaerts struck out before Morton hit Rafael Devers with a pitch to score one run; Christian Vázquez lined into a double play to end it.

Danny Santana led off the second with a triple, but Boston stranded him there.

Richards walked William Contreras to lead off the third and then gave up a one-out single to Freeman. Marcell Ozuna doubled in one run to tie it; Freeman scored to make it 2-1 on a fielder's choice that erased Ozuna as he tried to take third.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Braves: LF Ozuna left the game after injuring his left hand when he slid head-first into third base in the third inning. Ozuna banged his fingers into Rafael Devers’ foot and remained on the dirt, in obvious pain, while a trainer ran out to attend to him. He went straight through the dugout into the tunnel. Ehire Adrianza replaced him in the bottom half of the inning.

Red Sox: Reinstated INF Christian Arroyo (bruised left hand) from the injured list.

UP NEXT

Braves lefty Drew Smyly (2-2) will face Boston righty Nick Pivetta (5-0) on Wednesday night.

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More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Jimmy Golen, The Associated Press