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Kutter Crawford works six solid innings, Red Sox defeated Pirates 4-2

Red Stockings

Kenley Jansen recorded the 425th save of his career in Boston’s victory.

Kutter Crawford owns a league-best 0.66 ERA through five starts. AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Kutter Crawford allowed one run in six strong innings and the Boston Red Sox defeated the struggling Pittsburgh Pirates 4-2 on Saturday.

Crawford (1-0, 0.66 ERA) struck out six and walked three. The 28-year-old right-hander gave up seven hits on the season after not allowing more than three hits in any of his previous four starts. He has two hits in each of his last three starts and has allowed three runs in 27 1/3 innings this season.

“Honestly, I really like these starts,” Crawford said. “I take pride in competing and trying to get out of situations like that.”

Boston entered the series having lost seven of 10 games before taking the first two of the three-game set. Pittsburgh lost its fifth straight game and eighth in the past ten games after opening the season 11-5.

“I didn’t think our approach was bad much today,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “It was just when we had some crucial at-bats, in those situations we didn’t really execute our plan.”

Kenley Jansen picked up his fifth save and struck out three in the ninth, including Michael A. Taylor for the second out on an automatic third strike for not being set. Shelton was thrown out after contesting the strike call against Taylor.

It was Jansen’s 425th save in 15 seasons, passing John Franco for fifth most in Major League history.

“It’s just a great achievement,” said 36-year-old Jansen. “Everyone was part of it. There are many more names I could mention here. I have to give them all credit for making me who I am today.

Pirates star Mitch Keller (2-2) was tagged for four runs and allowed five hits and four walks in six innings. After a leadoff triple by Jarren Duran, he gave up two runs in the first inning, then faced one batter above the minimum in the next four innings.

Masataka Yoshida reached Keller in the sixth and sent a hanging sinker 390 feet to right-center for a two-run homer that gave the Red Sox a 4-1 lead.

Crawford allowed a runner in each of his six innings.

Ke’Bryan Hayes led off the fourth inning with a double just inside the right line for Pittsburgh. Jared Triolo hit a two-out single to left, scoring Hayes and cutting the Pirates’ deficit to 2-1 before Crawford retired Oneil Cruz with runners on the corners.

Crawford escaped a bases-loaded jam an inning later, striking out Jack Suwinski and Joey Bart.

“We gave him an opportunity to go out there and compete,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. ‘He was probably out of the game last year. We trust him.”

Connor Joe hit a pinch-hit homer to lead off the eighth inning for the Pirates.

“You just have to score,” Pittsburgh outfielder Bryan Reynolds said. “Sometimes you experience little ruts. We’re in a rut right now. It’s still April 20th. We still have time to make adjustments to the box, so we will do that.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Red Sox: 1B Triston Casas left with left rib discomfort after walking in the first inning. Cora said more information could be provided on Sunday. … INF Rafael Devers (knee) and OF Tyler O’Neill (concussion) could return Tuesday against the Cleveland Guardians, Cora said.

NEXT ONE

LHP Martín Pérez (1-0, 2.55) takes the mound for the Pirates in the series finale on Sunday. The Red Sox have not yet announced a starter.