Chris Sale, backed by Boston Red Sox bats, wins in first start since 2019



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BOSTON — Bolstered by Chris Sale‘s first major league appearance in just over two years, the Boston Red Sox hit five homers while pounding Baltimore 16-2 on Saturday, handing the Orioles their 10th straight loss.

Sale, 32, completed his return from Tommy John surgery by pitching five innings, giving up two runs on consecutive homers by Austin Hays and Trey Mancini in the third. Relying mostly on his sharp slider, the lanky left-hander struck out eight and walked none.

Rafael Devers got Boston off to a fast start with a three-run homer in the first against Jorge Lopez (3-13). J.D. Martinez hit a three-run homer for the Red Sox, and Bobby Dalbec added a solo shot during a seven-run fifth inning — right after Sale left to a loud ovation.

Dalbec hit his second solo homer an inning later, and Hunter Renfroe connected in the eighth.

When Sale finished the fifth, he was greeted with a handshake then a hug from manager Alex Cora.

The seven-time All-Star last pitched in the majors when he started on Aug. 13, 2019. He had surgery on his 31st birthday — March 30, 2020 — and missed last year’s pandemic-shortened season.

Sale’s return created an electric atmosphere on a steamy afternoon. Many of the fans were on their feet when Hays foul tipped Sale’s 94.2 mph first pitch.

Devers finished with four RBIs. Alex Verdugo hit four singles for Boston, and Enrique Hernandez scored four times.

WARM-UP MOMENTS

When Sale walked to the bullpen to warm up, he was greeted with cheers. Many fans clamored for a good look, trying to get near the bullpen, and were taking cell-phone photos and videos, cheering nearly every pitch. When he was done, he gave catcher Christian Vazquez a big hug before pumping fists with the rest of the members of the team out there and walking to the dugout to a big ovation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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