Verdugo hits 3-run HR, scorching Red Sox ball Guardians 4-2

CLEVELAND — Alex Verdugo hit a three-run homer, Jarren Duran had a career-high four hits and an RBI, and the Boston Red Sox beat the Cleveland Guardians 4-2 Saturday for their sixth straight victory.

Verdugo’s two-out rocket to right off Shane Bieber (3-4) gave Boston a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning. Duran added an RBI single in the ninth off Enyel De Los Santos, completing its second comeback win in two days over the Guardians.

The scorching Red Sox moved a season-high 10 games over .500 and are 18-4 this month. Boston owns the second-best record in baseball since May 10 at 31-12, yet remains 11 games back of the AL East-leading New York Yankees.

“We’ve been on a tear, playing really good baseball,” Verdugo said. “A few weeks ago, we weren’t sure if we could get to 10 games over .500. We did, so the goal right now is to get another 10.”

Right-hander Josh Winckowski (3-1) went 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs, to win for the third time in three June starts. The Toledo, Ohio, native made his big league debut May 28 against Baltimore and was pitching for the first time in his home state.

“I was more of a Tigers fan growing up because of Justin Verlander, but it was a special night with my grandparents and my aunt here,” Winckowski said. “This was definitely the best lineup that I’ve faced in the majors, so I feel real good.”

Jake Diekman, John Schreiber and Matt Strahm followed Winckowski with 2 2/3 scoreless innings before Tanner Houck worked a perfect ninth for his sixth save.

Duran, who also stole two bases, doubled his previous best of two hits in a game.

“I’m having fun, getting on for the big guys, and running like crazy on the bases,” Duran said.

The Guardians took a 2-0 advantage in the third when Amed Rosario tripled home Steven Kwan, then scored on José Ramírez’s sacrifice fly. Ramírez leads the AL with 63 RBIs, but had his 13-game hitting streak snapped.

Cleveland, which has won 17 of 24, fell to 0-2 on an 11-game homestand that continues against the Twins and Yankees. The Guardians entered the day tied with Minnesota atop the AL Central.

“I didn’t make many mistakes all day, but made one and got burned for it,” Bieber said. “That’s the game we play. It’s obviously frustrating.”

Bieber had dominated his previous five starts, going 2-0 with a 2.23 ERA and 38 strikeouts over 32 1/3 innings. Thanks to Verdugo’s homer, the 2020 AL Cy Young winner lost for the first time since May 22.

“I was looking for a heater, but I got a curveball that popped middle-in, which is a lefty hitter’s happy zone,” Verdugo said.

Boston’s Rob Refsnyder, who owns a .486 on-base percentage, did not play. He is the first player to reach base in his first 11 games with the team since Daniel Nava in 2021.

Burnes, McCutchen, Brosseau lead Brewers past Blue Jays 5-4

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Corbin Burnes pitched into the eighth inning, Andrew McCutchen and Mike Brosseau homered, and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-4 on Saturday.

The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner extended his winning streak to a season-high three games, but he wasn’t as crisp as in a 2-0 win over the Cardinals on Monday.

“He’s picked up right where he left off last year,” Brewers manager Craig Counselll said. “In the middle innings, I thought he really got cooking.”

In his first career start against Toronto, Burnes (6-4) allowed home runs to Matt Chapman and Bo Bichette and an RBI groundout by Cavan Biggio. He struck nine and walked two, then turned over a 5-3 lead with runners at first and second and two outs in the eighth to Devin Williams, who fanned Alejandro Kirk.

“Those two lazy pitches that were hit out for homers, other than that, it was pretty good,” Burnes said. “Lot of room to grow with the cutter. It was kind of all over the place. I got lazy with it.”

Chapman doubled with two outs and scored on a base hit by Lourdes Gurriel Jr. off Josh Hader, but the closer escaped with his 22nd save when Gabriel Moreno grounded out to first.

Five days earlier, Burnes stymied the Cardinals on two hits, two walks and 10 strikeouts in seven innings.

The Brewers gave him an early 5-0 lead.

Brosseau’s home run leading off the third chased Blue Jays starter Yusei Kikuchi (2-4).

McCutchen hit his sixth home run of the season, a two-run shot in the second. Willy Adames had an RBI single before McCutchen’s homer.

Tyrone Taylor’s hit drove in a run in the first for Milwaukee.

Kikuchi allowed five runs, two earned, on six hits with five strikeouts, a walk, a wild pitch and a hit batter. He slipped to 1-3 in his last seven starts.

“You got to keep working at it,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said of his pitcher. “Again, I’m not going to sit here and make excuses for him. He hasn’t pitched well. He put us in a tough spot today.”

Kikuchi knows it.

“I’ve struggled the last few outings mostly with command, falling behind in the count and then pitches where I try to get back into the count are the ones that are getting hit pretty hard,” he said through an interpreter.

Toronto’s bullpen shut down Milwaukee’s offense the rest of the game. Trent Thorton relieved Kikuchi and handled the third and fourth. Max Castillo pitched scoreless ball in the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth.

Kirk was back in the lineup as Toronto’s DH. In Friday night’s 9-4 win, his hand got clipped by the backswing from Jonathan Davis in the seventh. Kirk stayed behind the plate for the rest of Davis’ at-bat, but he was replaced by Moreno when the Blue Jays went to the bullpen. Precautionary X-rays were negative.