Pedroia returns as Red Sox beat Braves 8-6
Boston — All those long rehab days finally paid off for Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia.
The 2008 AL MVP made his season debut Saturday after October knee surgery, helping the Red Sox rally for an 8-6 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
"There's been a lot of tough days," Pedroia said. "Today was great to be out there and play."
Pedroia went 0-for-4, but he walked and scored in the third inning of Boston's sixth win in seven games. Andrew Benintendi homered and drove in three runs, and Mitch Moreland had a key two-run double.
Pedroia, who was part of Boston's 2007 and '13 World Series-winning teams, got a standing ovation when he came up with the bases loaded and two outs in the first. He popped out to right.
"Every moment's special when you get an opportunity to play baseball here. I never take it for granted," he said. "Today was up there with any of the moments that I've been here. I was proud to be able to come back from the surgery I had and help us win."
Pedroia hustled home on Christian Vazquez's single, beating a throw to the plate with a headfirst slide.
"Great baserunning. He looked fast," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "The way he moved, that was good to see. It's good to have him back with the energy he brings."
Knuckleballer Steven Wright (1-0) pitched three scoreless innings for the victory. Craig Kimbrel worked the ninth for his 16th save, retiring three in a row after Ronald Acuna Jr.'s leadoff homer.
Dansby Swanson hit a two-run drive for the Braves, who have dropped 10 of their last 13 at Fenway Park.
Atlanta left-hander Sean Newcomb, a Massachusetts native, struggled with his control in his first career game in Fenway, giving up three runs and six hits over three innings with four walks and four strikeouts.
"Wasn't clicking," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "I don't know, it just wasn't. He's bound to have one of those. ... He just didn't have it."
The Braves had a 5-4 lead before Moreland's double down the right-field line off Sam Freeman (1-2) in the sixth. Benintendi added a two-run triple in the seventh.
The Red Sox had to rally after Drew Pomeranz was pulled with one out in the fourth. He was charged with five runs and six hits.
Swanson connected in the second, hitting a drive to the Green Monster seats for his third homer. Kurt Suzuki added an RBI single in the third, and Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis each drove in a run in the fourth.
Benintendi went deep in the bottom of the fourth, trimming Atlanta's lead to 5-4 with a solo shot.
Braves: Snitker said RHP Anibal Sanchez (right hamstring) likely will start Tuesday. He went three innings in a rehab start for Triple-A Gwinnett on Friday.
Red Sox: Cora said the plan for RHP Austin Maddux (10-day disabled list, strained right shoulder) is to be extended more than one inning.
Newcomb was born in Brockton, about 30 miles south of Fenway. He attended Middleborough High School and lives in Massachusetts in the offseason.
A fan held up a sign that read: "We love Sean Newcomb."
He estimated there were about 200 people at the game to see him.
"There were a couple of my buddies near the dugout, so I could hear some of the stuff they were saying, but that was it," he said. "It was cool to get a chance to have the family and friends come watch."
More changes needed
Some advertisements outside of Fenway — with a picture of Hanley Ramirez — will need to be changed.
The club designated the 34-year-old slugger for assignment on Friday. He hit only .163 with three homers and 12 RBI in May after starting strong with a .330 average, three homers and 17 RBI.
Braves: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (3-3, 2.72 ERA) is set to start the series finale Sunday. He has a 0.56 ERA in his last three starts.
Red Sox: LHP Chris Sale (5-1, 2.17 ERA) looks to continue his strong start this season, having allowed three or fewer runs in all 11 starts.