WASHINGTON (AP) Struggling outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. drove in two runs, Eduardo Rodriguez struck out six in six scoreless innings and the Boston Red Sox shut out the Washington Nationals 3-0 on Wednesday to complete a three-game sweep and send the preseason NL East favorites below .500.
The Nationals (42-43) have lost five in a row to fall below .500 this late in the season for the first time since being 60-61 on Aug. 21, 2015.
A throwing error by Adam Eaton on Bradley’s sacrifice fly caught in foul territory and a wild pitch by Ryan Madson (2-4) in the seventh inning contributed to Washington’s 17th loss in 22 games.
Bradley scored Eduardo Nunez twice, first on a sacrifice fly and then a double in the ninth. It’s just the second time all season Bradley had multiple RBIs in a game without hitting a home run.
Rodriguez (10-3) allowed just three hits and one walk to make the Red Sox the first team in the majors with a pair of 10-game winners, joining Rick Porcello. He surrendered two singles to Trea Turner and a bunt single to catcher Pedro Severino while striking out Bryce Harper and not allowing a runner past second base.
Getting to Madson in the seventh and getting some insurance off Kelvin Herrera in the ninth allowed Boston to improve to 22-6 this season in series finales.
Madson was the Nationals’ fourth pitcher after starter Erick Fedde left with an undisclosed injury one batter into the second inning and gave way to left-hander Matt Grace, who allowed just one hit and struck out four in four innings of relief. It was Grace’s longest major league relief appearance.
Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel picked up his 26th save in 28 chances.
Impressive Nationals rookie Juan Soto got most of the day off after starting 19 games in a row and playing in the completion of a suspended game. He lined out to second as a pinch-hitter in the eighth and stayed in to play left field.
”I had to get him off his feet for a little bit,” manager Davey Martinez said. ”If we had 365 games, I’d love for him to play 365 games. But I understand the game and I’ve been around a long time to know that guys need a break.”
Red Sox: Manager Alex Cora said LHP Drew Pomeranz (biceps tendinitis) would most likely make a second rehab start early next week. … RHP Tyler Thornburg was activated from the disabled list after rehabbing from shoulder surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome last June.
Nationals: 1B Matt Adams was activated after missing 16 games with a broken left index finger. To clear room, LHP Tim Collins was designated for assignment. … C Matt Wieters (left hamstring strain) is doing some catching, but still hasn’t done enough running to be ready to return.
Red Sox: After a day off, LHP Chris Sale (8-4, 2.41 ERA) brings a 15-inning scoreless streak into his Friday start at Kansas City, which is expected to start Jason Hammel (2-10, 5.56).
Nationals: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (2-1, 2.63) will look to last at least six innings to spare a heavily used bullpen when Washington faces RHP Pablo Lopez (1-0, 3.00) to open a four-game series against the Miami Marlins.
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