PHOENIX — The Boston Red Sox pulled out a win on Saturday thanks to a little unorthodox baseball strategy.
Manager Alex Cora enjoyed it, even if he couldn't take credit for it.
Reese McGuire's safety squeeze with the bases loaded brought home Triston Casas, which proved to be the difference as the Red Sox beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 2-1.
“You're going to have to ask Reese — ballplayers making plays," Cora said. “Sometimes they don't feel right, they feel like that's the only way they can drive them in, and they do.”
Boston has won the first two games of the series and will go for a three-game sweep on Sunday.
Kiké Hernández had an RBI single for the Red Sox in the fourth, and their small-ball strategy later in the inning took just about everyone by surprise — including Cora. Batting ninth in the lineup, McGuire came to the plate with the bases loaded and one out, but instead of trying for a big swing that might break the game open, the catcher dropped a nifty sacrifice bunt down the first-base line.
The only play for Diamondbacks lefty Kyle Nelson was to get McGuire at first, with Casas scoring easily for a 2-1 lead.
McGuire said after he fell into an 0-1 hole, he felt his best chance to get a run home was bunting.
“I feel if I can get it down, it's a tough play for the pitcher, especially being left-handed, going to his left and then having to throw across his body,” McGuire said. “It was a good situation.”
Arizona jumped ahead 1-0 in the first on Ketel Marte’s homer down the right-field line. It was his seventh of the season.
Both teams were using a starting pitcher who just came off the injured list. Diamondbacks right-hander Zach Davies (0-1) hadn't appeared in a big league game since April 8 and looked rusty, lasting just 3 1/3 innings. He gave up two runs on five hits and two walks while striking out three.
Boston's Garrett Whitlock (2-2) had been out since April 22. The right-hander fared better than his counterpart, allowing one run and two hits over five innings.
“Garrett was good — changing speeds,” Cora said. “Some swing-and-miss stuff. His cutter was magnificent.”
The Red Sox bullpen was stellar behind Whitlock, throwing four scoreless innings between Kutter Crawford, Chris Martin and Kenley Jansen, who earned his 11th save this season and No. 402 of his career.
The Diamondbacks had just three hits — one after the first inning. Red Sox pitchers didn't allow a walk, retiring 25 of their final 26 batters.
“Couldn't get anything going offensively,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “It looked like it was going to be a good day at the plate when Ketel hits a solo home run. You feel you're going to bunch together some hits, some runs, and end up running out and winning the ballgame. But their starting pitcher went on lockdown.”
CRAWFORD'S BIG PLAY
Crawford was taken out of the game after he made a great defensive play in the eighth.
D-backs catcher Gabriel Moreno hit a hard grounder back up the middle that hit Crawford's right ankle and bounced toward the first-base line. Crawford hustled to the ball, picking it up while avoiding Moreno, who was sprinting toward the bag.
Crawford managed to grab the ball and flipped it to Casas at first base for the out.
Crawford was shaken up after the play and after a few warmup pitches, Cora decided to bring in Martin. The Red Sox announced Crawford left with a bruised right ankle, but Cora said postgame that the pitcher shouldn't miss any additional time.
Red Sox: 3B Rafael Devers (calf) was out of the lineup for a second straight game. ... Whitlock was added to the roster from the injured list, and LHP Brennan Bernardino was sent to Triple-A.
Diamondbacks: Davies and RHP Drey Jameson were added to the roster, while RHPs Brandon Pfaadt and Luis Frías were demoted to Triple-A.
The teams wrap up their three-game set on Sunday. The D-backs send RHP Merrill Kelly (5-3, 2.98 ERA) to the mound against RHP Tanner Houck (3-3, 4.99).