Pirates’ losing streak extended to four

BOSTON — Hanley Ramirez looked plenty healthy in a big spot for the Boston Red Sox. After a recent absence because of the flu, Ramirez doubled during a three-run rally in the eighth inning Thursday that sent the Red Sox over the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-3.

“I think he’s carried what he did last year into this season despite missing the four games in Detroit,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “I think he’s carried that confidence he had last season into the first five games that he’s been active.”

The game was a makeup from a rainout in the opening series. Boston wound up sweeping the Pirates, having beaten them in the first two games of the year.

Andrew McCutchen tied Barry Bonds for fourth on Pittsburgh’s all-time list with his first homer of the season, but the Pirates lost their fourth straight. McCutchen hit the first pitch he saw from Eduardo Rodriguez off a billboard above the Monster for his 176th career homer.

The 30-year-old McCutchen — the NL’s 2013 MVP — entered the day with just one RBI following an offseason filled with trade rumors.

Pittsburgh starter Chad Kuhl gave up one run on five hits over 6 1/3 innings, striking out six without a walk.

“Chad pitched a fantastic game,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “To hold that offense in check, to pitch into the seventh, no walks, six strikeouts, the fastball command was excellent.”

Matt Barnes (2-0) worked one inning of hitless relief. Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his third save.

Ramirez got his first RBIs of the season, hitting a two-run double with the bases loaded off Juan Nicasio (0-2) that made it 3-all. Mookie Betts, the second of two close runners heading home, was out at the plate.

Xander Bogaerts then slapped a go-ahead single to right.

“My pitch was just to throw a sinker inside and I didn’t miss,” Nicasio said. “The thing is Hanley came out on top.”

Boston newcomer Mitch Moreland set a club record by hitting a double for the seventh straight game. The major league record is eight by Derrek Lee (2007) and Yadier Molina (2016).

“Being at this ballpark and knowing you’ve got a little help in left there makes you feel little more comfortable,” Moreland said of the Green Monster.

Rodriguez gave up two of his three runs in the first inning, but struck out eight with four walks over 5 1/3.

The Pirates head to Chicago for the weekend. Gerrit Cole (0-1, 6.55 ERA) is set to start against RHP Kyle Hendricks (1-0, 6.00) this afternoon in the first of three day games. The Pirates were 1-8 at Wrigley Field last season, but Cole is 8-2 in his career against the Cubs.

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