BOSTON (AP) – Andrew Benintendi bolstered his All-Star credentials, then happily left it up to the fans to decide.
Benintendi hit two doubles and drove in two runs in his final game before fan votes are tallied, and the Boston Red Sox beat the Texas Rangers 8-4 on Tuesday night to extend their winning streak to eight games.
“More importantly, we won the game,” Benintendi said. “We had a lot of big hits from a lot of guys tonight.”
Eight players had hits for Boston and Benintendi was one of four with two – his fifth straight game with multiple hits. He also walked and stole a base while helping the Red Sox improve on the best record in the majors with their eighth straight win.
Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a pair of RBI doubles and Xander Bogaerts hit a two-run triple as Boston scored five runs in the third and won for the 15th time in 18 games.
“We’re having fun. It’s pretty good a lineup right now from top to bottom,” Boston manager Alex Cora said.
Matt Barnes (3-2) got the win with one inning of relief, striking out the side in the seventh after the Rangers had pulled within 6-4 with two runs in the sixth. He was the fourth of five relievers the Red Sox rode to another victory after getting three solid innings from Hector Velazquez, who was making his first start since April and wasn’t expected to go much longer Tuesday after spending the previous two months in the bullpen.
Rougned Odor homered and Joey Gallo hit a two-run double for the Rangers, who have lost four of five.
Texas also ran into some tough defense, including a diving grab by Bradley on a sinking line drive and a catch by Mookie Betts at the right-field wall to rob Nomar Mazara of a home run.
“That’s this ballpark. You know that coming in,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said. “You’ve got a very athletic guy in right field – this is his home ballpark – and he knows how to play it.”
Yovani Gallardo (3-1) made it through the first two innings without allowing a baserunner, but ran into trouble in the third.
After entering the inning with a 1-0 lead, Gallardo faced the entire Boston lineup in the third as the Red Sox tagged him for six hits – three of them doubles – and five runs.
Blake Swihart and Bradley started the rally on back-to-back doubles with one out. Gallardo struck out Mookie Betts for the second out, but Benintendi doubled in a run, Martinez singled and Xander Bogaerts hit a triple over the head of Delino DeShields in the center-field triangle to drive in two more and put the Red Sox up 5-1.
Velazquez allowed one run on two hits over the first three innings. Jalen Beeks, recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket earlier Tuesday, pitched the next 2 1/3, allowing three runs on four hits, before he was pulled for Brandon Workman with one out in the sixth and runners at second and third.
Odor, whose homer in the second cleared the Texas bullpen and landed deep in the tunnel in right, singled and Isiah Kiner-Falefa doubled before Workman came on to face Gallo, whose double to center scored two to pull the Rangers to 6-4.
Barnes took over in the seventh, Joe Kelly pitched the eighth and Ryan Brasier finished it off with a scoreless ninth.
The #VoteBenny campaign, written in chalk behind home plate as the Red Sox lobbied for a sixth All-Star for next week’s game, officially will close on Wednesday afternoon. Benintendi said he’s enjoyed the support of his teammates, but will be happy to return from the All-Star break no matter where he spends next week.
“They know I”m not really that kind of guy to hype myself up, but it’s been kind of funny to watch and see them get into it,” Benintendi said. “Whatever happens. It’s out of my hands.”
Swihart started at catcher, where the Red Sox are down a man for up to two months as Christian Vazquez recovers from a broken finger. He said facing six different pitchers Tuesday will likely help him adjust defensively and he’s happy to have more opportunities to join the potent lineup at the plate.
“It kind of helped me out, just seeing a lot fo those guys and trying to get a rhythm,” said Swihart, who went 2-for-4 and scored a run. “My legs will be tired probably tomorrow from running and stuff.”
Red Sox: Vazquez (broken finger) and IF Marco Hernandez (left shoulder) both had surgery Tuesday. Hernandez will miss the rest of the season and Vazquez is out 6 to 8 weeks, the Red Sox said.
Rangers: RHP Bartolo Colon (5-6, 4.65 ERA) gets another chance at passing Dennis Martinez as the winningest Latin-American pitcher in major league history. Colon and Martinez are tied with 245 career victories.
Red Sox: LHP Chris Sale (9-4, 2.36) has struck out 11 or more in each of his last four starts.
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