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Closing Time: Anthony Ranaudo, Mike Napoli help Red Sox sweep Reds

08.13.14 at 3:37 pm ET
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On a day when he didn’t have his best stuff, Anthony Ranaudo gave a glimpse of a pitcher who is willing to compete and grind through innings to give his team an opportunity. On Wednesday, his performance was good enough to allow the Red Sox to fashion a 5-4 win.

The big right-hander, making his second big league start, attacked the strike zone even on a day when he elicited few swings and misses. The result was some hard hit balls en route to an eight-hit yield that included a pair of homers, a double and a triple, but an ability to limit the damage to four runs while walking one and striking out one. He threw 61 of 91 pitches (67 percent) for strikes.

Ranaudo has now given the Sox six innings in both of his first two big league starts, offering a suggestion that he hasn’t been overwhelmed by the initial challenge of competing at the highest level. He became the first Red Sox pitcher to win each of his first two big league starts since Justin Masterson in 2008.

The Red Sox went 5-3 on the road trip, finishing with three straight victories.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Mike Napoli slammed a two-run, opposite-field homer and drove in three runs while going 1-for-4. The homer was Napoli‘s third in August, a mark that leads the team, and his 15th of the year. Napoli is hitting just .206 this month but with an .870 OPS.

Yoenis Cespedes went 1-for-3 with a run-scoring single, giving him eight runs batted in over his last four games.

Jackie Bradley Jr. went 1-for-3, with a single up the middle in his first plate appearance that snapped an 0-for-35 stretch.

Junichi Tazawa had a perfect eighth inning that included a pair of strikeouts, his first multi-strikeout game since July 27.

– For the 10th time in 11 games, Brock Holt collected at least one hit, going 1-for-3 with a double (his first extra-base hit since Aug. 1) and a walk. Wednesday marked the third time in August that Holt has reached multiple times in a game.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– Cespedes had to leave the game for a pinch-hitter due to what the team described as a right hand contusion. Manager John Farrell told reporters that Cespedes jammed his hand and was taken out for precautionary reasons.

Dan Butler went 0-for-4, and he’s still looking for his first big league hit. The 27-year-old is 0-for-7 in his two contests.

Will Middlebrooks punched out in his only plate appearance after entering the game as a pinch-hitter. Since Saturday, he’s 1-for-15 with seven strikeouts.

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