Bats unable to back Sale's 10-K outing

Bats unable to back Sale's 10-K outing

PHILADELPHIA -- In seven shutout innings, Nick Pivetta logged the best outing for a Phillies starter all season and held his own against one of the game's best pitchers in Red Sox ace Chris Sale.

Pivetta struck out a career-high nine hitters in those seven frames as his pitch count reached 107, turning the ball over to the bullpen that sealed a 1-0 victory and the Phillies' first shutout of the 2017 season. He became the first Philadelphia starter to throw seven shutout innings since Jeremy Hellickson on Sept. 17, 2016.

"It's the first time I really faced a guy like that," Pivetta said of squaring off with a Cy Young-caliber pitcher. "It was really exciting for me. I just tried to go out there and go toe-to-toe with him. I knew he was going to go out there and do his best -- and he did. I just tried to stay with him as much as I could, and that's what I did tonight."

Pivetta's seven scoreless frames

Sale silenced the Phillies up until the eighth when, with the game scoreless and one out, pinch-hitter Ty Kelly laced a double into the left-field corner to score Andrew Knapp.

"I'm pretty relaxed going into those kind of at-bats and don't feel a ton of pressure," Kelly said. "Those are the at-bats that as a player you want. It's way harder to hit down 10 or up 10 against somebody, because there's nothing riding on the at-bat." More >

Sale finished with 10 strikeouts, nine of which came in the first five innings. He allowed just two hits in the first seven innings. It was the ninth time this season in 14 starts that Sale recorded at least 10 strikeouts, and he recorded a punchout against eight different Phillies.

Sale dominates Phils over eight

"It was an outstanding performance all the way around," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "He personally did everything he could to impact this team in all facets." More >

Back where he started: Howie Kendrick looked right at home at second base, the position he made a career playing and the spot where he is currently filling in for the injured Cesar Hernandez. Sale came to the plate with the bases full in the second and slapped a grounder up the middle. Kendrick scampered to his right, made a diving catch to snare the grounder and then fired to first to end the inning and save two runs.

Kendrick's amazing diving stop

"That's a huge play," Pivetta said. "If that ball gets through, maybe one or two runs score and now we're behind in the game. That's really hard against a guy like that. For him to make that play, phenomenal."

Sale stranded: Hitting for himself in the eighth inning, Sale poked his first career extra-base hit over the head of Daniel Nava in left off reliever Pat Neshek. The Phillies' top reliever buckled down and set down three straight former All-Stars -- Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts -- on 11 pitches, 10 of which were strikes.

Sale's opposite-field double

"We're going against Neshek, and he's extremely good against right-handers," Farrell said. "They matched up. They found their guys in the right spot in the order, and he made quality pitches. He had to go through the top of our order, and he did."

"I would take that result against anybody, but it feels good against him. I don't know, maybe more of my friends will text me tonight." -- Kelly, on his game-winning hit off Sale

Kelly doused discussing win

"I just threw the worst pitch of the game at the wrong time." -- Sale, on Kelly's double

Red Sox: Left-hander Drew Pomeranz takes the mound opposite Mike Fiers as the Sox play their first game against the Astros, who boast an MLB-best 45 wins, this season. First pitch on Friday is slated for 8:10 p.m. ET.

Phillies: Coming off his best two-start stretch of the season, Aaron Nola (3-4, 4.40 ERA) will start the series opener vs. the D-backs at Citizens Bank Park on Friday at 7:05 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast live and free of blackouts on the official MLB Facebook page (, and include an exclusive pregame show.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Ben Harris is a reporter for based in Philadelphia.

Stephen Pianovich is a contributor to based in Philadelphia and covered the Red Sox on Thursday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.