BOSTON -- After serving up a home run on just the second pitch of the game, Drew Pomeranz settled in nicely, scattering seven hits over 6 1/3 innings while his offense backed him with two early two-run homers as the American League East-leading Red Sox defeated the White Sox, 4-1, for their fifth consecutive victory Saturday night at Fenway Park.
Following the first-inning folly, Boston's starter -- who has not lost since June 11 -- struck out eight en route to his career high-tying 11th win. His effort helped the Red Sox maintain a three-game lead over the Yankees.
Though Chicago starter James Shields allowed only five hits over his six innings, two of those doomed the White Sox in the long run. After Andrew Benintendi's two-run blast in the first vaulted Boston into the lead, Jackie Bradley Jr. duplicated the effort in the second, launching a two-run shot over the White Sox bullpen in right field.
"I made two bad pitches tonight, that's how I feel," said Shields after his team slipped to 3-18 following the All-Star break. "It's a good lineup over there overall. We kept them to five hits on the day, so that wasn't too bad. But unfortunately we lost, so it's a bummer."
In following up Shields' effort, Chicago's bullpen held Boston's bats in check, yielding just one walk over the final two frames.
On the offensive end, the White Sox ran themselves into a couple of late outs that seemingly snuffed out any momentum that may have come their way.
Alen Hanson ran into a double play on a fly ball out to Mookie Betts in the seventh after getting too far off first base. Jose Abreu was thrown out at second base by Benintendi in the eighth, trying to stretch a single, but only after review deemed he was tagged following an overslide at second.
"We're doing a lot of things inside the game," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "You look at a couple of defensive plays, Mookie makes one in right field, Benny throws a nice strike to second base that [Brock Holt] stayed with the play to record the out. The momentum comes from the way we've executed late in ballgames or in later innings."
Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel came on in the ninth and recorded a strikeout and a pickoff in his 26th save.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Benintendi strikes back: Trailing 1-0 right off the bat, the Red Sox wasted no time striking back. With one out in the bottom of the first, Holt reached on a fielding error by Tyler Saladino. The next batter, Benintendi, ran the count versus Shields to 2-0 before jumping on an 85-mph cutter and depositing the ball over the Red Sox's bullpen in right-center for a 2-1 lead that Boston would not relinquish. Per Statcast™, Benintendi's 13th homer of the season traveled 399 feet and left the bat with an exit velocity of 99.4 mph.
"He's making a good impact on the baseball right now," Farrell said.
Betts erases threat: The White Sox saw their best bet at clawing back into the game erased by a heads-up double play by Betts. With runners on first and second and one out in the seventh, Tim Anderson hit a sinking liner into right field, but the Red Sox right fielder got a great jump on the ball and charged in to make the catch on the run. Hanson, thinking the ball might drop, was caught too far off of first base and Betts relayed the ball into Mitch Moreland, who stepped on the bag to complete the double play and end the inning.
"Mookie's one of the premier right fielders in the game," Farrell said. "His awareness on the field, knowing the situation, he's able to make the catch on the run, he sees the runner enough off the base. To me the presence of mind to throw the ball the way he did, bounce it, not try to make a great play, gives Mitch a chance to get himself over the bag. Just a heady play on his part."
"Me speaking on my own, I beat the bullpen up a little bit, so that was good for me to get out there and help them." -- Derek Holland, on making his first relief appearance with the White Sox after 21 starts
"The more you're in a spot, that's probably where you're going to get the majority of your hits. [I've been] batting at the bottom of the lineup, I guess, the majority of my career. I wasn't aware that I hit 12 homers then. I just try to continue my same approach. I'm sure pitchers aren't pitching to a spot in the lineup to me. They're pitching to me as a ballplayer, no matter what part of the lineup I'm hitting. There aren't scouting reports on a spot in the lineup." -- Bradley
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
In the eighth, the Red Sox called for a review after Abreu was called safe at second base for a double. After a review of 53 seconds, the call on the field was overturned as it was determined that Holt applied the tag after Abreu slid past the bag.
WHAT'S NEXT White Sox: Right-hander Mike Pelfrey (3-9, 5.04) wraps up this brief four-game road trip for the White Sox with his 21st appearance and 19th start of the season Sunday at 12:35 p.m. CT. He's 1-1 with a 2.61 ERA over five career starts against the Red Sox, including three quality starts.
Red Sox: Right-hander Doug Fister (1-5, 5.18 ERA) will look to build off of his best outing of the season (7 2/3 innings, five hits, two runs vs. Cleveland) when he takes the hill for a 1:35 p.m. ET start. With a win, Boston will sweep the four-game set and win its sixth straight game. Over his first five appearances with Boston, he went 0-4 with a 6.23 ERA, but in his three outings since, he's 1-1 with a 3.18 ERA..