Brayan Bello allows one hit in six innings as the Red Sox edge past Pirates 8-1

PITTSBURGH – Brayan Bello allowed one hit in six innings, Rob Refsnyder hit his first home run of the season and the Boston Red Sox breezed past the struggling Pittsburgh Pirates 8-1 on Friday night.

Bello (3-1) struck out seven and walked two. The only hit he surrendered was a leadoff double to Jack Suwinski in the bottom of the second. Bello retired the last eleven batters he faced as the Red Sox returned from a dismal homestand by handing the Pirates their fourth straight loss.

“I was going to compete every inning,” Bello said through an interpreter. “This is what I wanted since the offseason, since I started training, showing what kind of pitcher I am.”

Refsnyder, who made his season debut Thursday after being activated from the injured list, hit a two-run shot with one out in the fifth that chased Quinn Priester (0-1). Wilyer Abreu, Triston Casas and Ceddanne Rafaela also homered for Boston. Abreu finished 3 for 5, while Refsnyder and Connor Wong each had two hits.

Cam Booser, a 31-year-old left-handed reliever who walked away from baseball and became a carpenter after the 2017 season, allowed a run in the ninth in his major league debut.

Booser’s teammates then plied him with beer, ketchup, water and whatever else was available in the clubhouse.

“I didn’t expect anything like that,” said Booser, who allowed a triple to Alika Williams but also struck out five-time All-Star Andrew McCutchen. “That was very special for me. And it just tied in with how special the whole day was. I will remember every part of today for the rest of my life.”

Priester, a 2019 first-round pick who was called up from Triple-A Indianapolis on Thursday, struggled in his first big league start of the season.

The 22-year-old right-hander gave up solo shots to Abreu and Casas in the first inning and worked from there. Priester, whose return to the Majors after a bumpy 2023 was made possible by improved command that helped him collect 20 strikeouts in three starts, struck out just two while giving up five runs, four of them earned, in 4 1/3 innings .

“I think it comes down to performing in the big leagues,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said of Priester. “If you don’t make throws and you don’t put yourself in deficit situations, the balls are going to get hit hard and I think that’s what we’ve seen.”

Pittsburgh has cooled off after a 9-3 start. The Pirates have since dropped seven of nine, with much of the focus on 2023 No. 1 overall pick Paul Skenes. The righthander struck out eight in 3 1/3 innings for Indianapolis on Thursday, though Pittsburgh insists it is in no rush to bring him up.

Boston, like the Pirates, started hot. The Red Sox won seven of 10 to start the season before dropping seven of 10 during a 10-game homestand against Baltimore, the Los Angeles Angels and Cleveland. Injuries to prominent players piled up, though the starting rotation was among the best in the Majors despite losing Lucas Giolito for the season to Tommy John surgery in March.

Red Sox starters have posted a 1.71 ERA through 21 games, with 114 strikeouts against 27 walks.

Red Sox: 3B Rafael Devers (bruised left knee) was held out of the lineup for the second straight season, though manager Alex Cora is hopeful Devers won’t need a visit to the injured list. … RHP Nick Pivetta (right elbow) is “trending” in the right direction according to Cora. Pivetta will host a bullpen session soon.

Pirates: C Yasmani Grandal (left foot) was the designated hitter for Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday after catching seven innings on Thursday. …LHP Marco Gonzalez (left forearm) is out for at least two weeks.

The three-match interleague series continues on Saturday. Kutter Crawford (0-0, 0.42 ERA) starts for Boston against Pittsburgh’s Mitch Keller (2-1, 4.50).