PHOENIX – The Arizona Diamondbacks scored all of their runs in the first two innings.
The way Merrill Kelly and catcher Gabriel Moreno had the Boston Red Sox guessing, it was more than enough.
Kelly struck out 10 while pitching effectively into the seventh inning and Corbin Carroll hit a two-run homer, helping the Diamondbacks beat the Red Sox 4-2 on Sunday.
“He seemed to be one step ahead of what their game plan was,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “It seems to me they were sitting soft and Merrill and Gabby got ahead of that.”
Carroll hit a two-run homer off Tanner Houck (3-4) in the first. Geraldo Perdomo added a solo shot in the second to stake Kelly to a 4-0 lead.
Kelly (6-3) matched a career high by striking out six batters looking, one short of the Diamondbacks’ record. Knowing the Red Sox like breaking pitches, the right-hander used changeups and fastballs to set up breaking pitches later.
“It seems like a lot of them are passive early,” said Kelly, who allowed a run and four hits in 6 1/3 innings. “I threw some good changeups and I think when I started laying in the changeup and throwing it where they had to honor it, it opened up the hard stuff a little bit.”
Boston’s Alex Verdugo hit a run-scoring single off Andrew Chafin to make it 4-1 before the left-hander struck out Rafael Devers to end the seventh inning. Justin Turner hit a solo homer for Boston in the eighth against Kyle Nelson, but Miguel Castro worked around an infield single in the ninth for his fifth save in six chances.
“We did a good job of putting together good at-bats, but we didn’t finish them,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said.
Arizona had three hits in a 2-1 loss to Boston on Saturday night, but it got to Houck right at the start.
Ketel Marte hit a hard single to extend his on-base streak to 27 games – tied for third-longest in Arizona history – in the first and Carroll followed with his eighth homer. Josh Rojas added a run-scoring single for Arizona’s fifth straight hit, and Perdomo made it 4-0 with a leadoff drive in the second.
Houck retired the next nine batters before being replaced by Joely Rodriguez to open the fifth. Houck allowed four runs and four hits.
Kelly has been sharp since a shaky start to the season, going 4-0 with a 2.61 ERA in his previous five starts.
Kelly struck out four of six batters in one early stretch, twice after falling behind 3-0, and struck out the side in the sixth before being replaced by Chafin with two on in the seventh.
“We put together good at-bats, but he made good pitches,” Cora said. “He can pitch. In an era when people talk about overpowering stuff, command is perfect.”
The Diamondbacks’ bats had been quiet in recent games, in part because they had been trying to pull too many pitches.
At the urging of Arizona’s coaches, the Diamondbacks focused on using more of the field against Boston and it worked.
Carroll, a left-handed hitter, launched his homer to the seats in left and Rojas, also left-handed, blooped his run-scoring single into left.
“When we do have an all-field approach we start to become unpredictable and we can end up slugging as we did in a couple situations,” Lovullo said. “It’s just got to be good hitters and we’ll continue to press on with that message.”
Red Sox: Devers went 0 for 5 after missing the previous two games with a calf injury.
Diamondbacks: Rojas was checked on by a trainer after a hard slide into second in the second, but remained in the game.
Red Sox: Boston gets a day off before RHP Brayan Bello (3-2, 4.08 ERA) starts the opener of a three-game series against Cincinnati.
Diamondbacks: RHP Rhyne Nelson (1-2, 5.02 ERA) will make his first career start against Colorado in the opener of a three-game series on Monday.
Kelly strikes out 10 in Diamondbacks’ 4-2 win over Red Sox originally appeared on NBCSports.com