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Just stepping into the batter’s box to face good friend and former teammate Max Scherzer was a special occasion for Rick Porcello.

A career American League pitcher with 35 plate appearances on his resume going up against a three-time Cy Young Award-winner had mismatch written all over it. Instead http://www.texansauthorizedshops.com/au … tee-jersey , Porcello hit a three-run double off Scherzer that set the stage for the Boston Red Sox beating the Washington Nationals 4-3 in the opener of their three-game interleague series Monday night.

”I got lucky,” Porcello said. ”He got to the top of his windup and I told myself, `Start swinging.’ Then I hit it.”

Porcello’s first major league extra-base hit came in the second inning on an 0-2 pitch after the Nationals intentionally walked Jackie Bradley Jr. to pitch to him. His .156 batting average and limited hitting experience made it appear to be the right calculation, but Porcello drove Scherzer’s 96 mph fastball over the head of Juan Soto in left center for his first RBIs since 2009.

”You don’t hit for an entire year,” said Porcello, who came in with five hits and two RBIs in his career. ”You don’t even know what it’s going to look like once you step in there. I was thinking swing the bat and be competitive up there. You just never know what’s going to happen because you don’t do it very often.”

Scherzer and Porcello were teammates for five seasons with the Detroit Tigers and are still close. Because of that, Scherzer wasn’t surprised by Porcello’s hitting stroke.

”I know he can hit,” Scherzer said. ”Give him a couple sliders to keep him off balance and then was trying to get a fastball up and away and it ran back middle-in. Anybody can hit middle-in. He can do that. I’ve seen him do it.”

On the mound, Porcello (10-3) struck out five and limited the damage to solo home runs by Anthony Rendon and Daniel Murphy. Scherzer (10-5) struck out nine and kept the Red Sox off the board except for Porcello’s bases-clearing double and became the 11th pitcher to reach 1,000 strikeouts with two different teams.

When Scherzer exited the game after 108 pitches, Mookie Betts provided the Red Sox with their insurance run with a solo shot off Brandon Kintzler in the seventh http://www.coltsauthorizedshops.com/aut … son-jersey , his 21st home run of the season. Bryce Harper hit his 21st in the eighth, but Boston’s bullpen held on to hand the Nationals their 16th loss in 24 one-run games.

”Go out there and try to win ballgames and they all feel the same to me,” Harper said as Washington fell to 42-41, seven games back of NL East-leading Atlanta. ”I mean we lose the game, you’re a loser. Win the game, you’re a winner.”

Craig Kimbrel got into some trouble but picked up four outs for his 25th save in 27 chances.

FIRST-BASE HARPER?

Harper is doing just fine in center field but on Monday fielded some grounders at first base. It’s just experimental for now but could help the Nationals out down the line.

”I don’t ever know if he’ll ever start a game there, but I believe that if we’re in a pinch and we’ve got to make some kind of decisions in-game, he probably could play there,” manager Davey Martinez said.

PUERTO RICO PRIDE

Martinez and Red Sox manager Alex Cora were never on the same team but knew each other well from their playing days. They exchanged lineup cards as two managers of Puerto Rican descent in the series opener, a special moment and occasion for them and their country.

”It’s good for Puerto Rico,” Martinez said. ”We feel blessed and we’re happy we got the opportunity to do what we do.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Red Sox: RHP Steven Wright (left knee inflammation) received a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injection http://www.coltsauthorizedshops.com/aut … ard-jersey , a day after throwing a short bullpen session. Cora said Wright could return before the All-Star break. . 2B Dustin Pedroia (left knee inflammation) will remain in New York all week. . Cora said RHP Tyler Thornburg (shoulder surgery) will most likely be activated from the disabled list during this series.

Nationals: 1B Ryan Zimmerman (right oblique strain) took part in a simulated game as he prepares to try to play in a game for the first time since May. … Martinez said C Matt Wieters (left hamstring strain) will go on a minor-league rehab assignment Tuesday at Double-A Harrisburg after reporting significant progress in the simulated game and could be activated as soon as Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Boston LHP Brian Johnson (1-2, 4.28 ERA), who is 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA in three career interleague appearances, faces Washington for the first time. RHP Tanner Roark (3-9, 4.10 ERA) pitches for the Nationals in his first career start against the Red Sox.


MILWAUKEE — For most of the season, the Milwaukee Brewers‘ bullpen has been the team’s anchor, slamming the door on victory after victory as the Brewers walked what manager Craig Counsell called a “high wire act.”

Now, though, the relievers are getting some breathing room thanks to a suddenly dominant starting rotation and when the Brewers open a three-game weekend series Friday night against the Philadelphia Phillies at Miller Park, they’ll sit atop the NL Central, 1 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Chicago Cubs.

Milwaukee’s starters have allowed no more than one run in four straight games and have combined for a 2.55 ERA over their last 12 despite the absence of right-hander Zach Davies Youth Baker Mayfield Jersey , who’s out for a second time this season with shoulder soreness, and right-hander Jimmy Nelson, who’s yet to throw a pitch this season after suffering a shoulder injury last September.

“Our pitching has been outstanding all year,” outfielder Lorenzo Cain said. “The starting pitching, bullpen, have pretty much been carrying our team for the most part.

“We definitely need to step up as an offense and try to score some more runs. We’re putting too much pressure on our pitchers as a whole. They’ve been outstanding, have been holding the fort down for the team and doing a great job all year long.”

The offense fared well last weekend against the Phillies. Milwaukee scored 12 runs in each of the first two contests of the three-game set and tagged right-hander Jake Arrieta (5-4, 2.97 ERA), who gets the start Friday night, for four runs over 5 1/3 innings Saturday.

The veteran right-hander was off to a good start in his first season with Philadelphia but has allowed nine earned runs in his last two starts, spanning 11 1/3 innings.

He stands a good chance to snap out of that funk at Miller Park Youth Kolton Miller Jersey , where he’s 3-0 with a 2.03 ERA in five career starts and is 8-5 with a 2.96 ERA in 16 career starts against the Brewers, including last weekend’s clunker.

That loss stretched Philadelphia’s losing streak to four games but the Phillies have won three of four since, including a 9-3 victory Thursday afternoon against the Rockies.

The victory marked a breakthrough for Philadelphia’s offense which had gone 257 innings without scoring more than three runs in a frame, hadn’t scored more than six in a game since May 19 and recorded at least 10 hits only once since May 17.

“The process has been there,” first baseman Rhys Hoskins said. “Sometimes it just feels like every break doesn’t go our way. We know that we’re capable of (high-scoring innings) every time we step on the field. But it’s nice to see it finally happen.”

The Phillies’ bats will try to stay hot against Brewers’ starter Brent Suter (6-4, 4.61 ERA), who held Philadelphia to three runs over five innings in his last outing.

The left-hander has earned a victory in four of his last five starts. He is 1-0 with a 3.27 ERA in two starts versus the Phillies.