ATLANTA (AP) — Kenley Jansen became the seventh player in major league history to earn 400 saves, pinch-hitter Raimel Tapia hit a go-ahead RBI double in the seventh inning, and the Boston Red Sox beat the Atlanta Braves 5-2 on Wednesday night.
Jansen, who had 41 saves last year in his only season with the Braves, faced four batters for his ninth save in 10 chances.
“I was locked in,” he said. “At the end of the day, that’s an individual thing to accomplish. We’re here to win ballgames and get to the playoffs and try to win a championship. It’s just another day. You have to stay focused for that. It was an unbelievable experience.”
Jansen wanted to reach 400 at Fenway Park, butdidn’t mind doing it in Atlanta. He grew up as a Braves fan in Curaçao cheering for longtime center fielder Andruw Jones.
“It can’t be better coming against the team I grew up watching, loving, and I did it today here in their stadium,” Jansen said.
The 35-year-old right-hander trails Billy Wagner by 22 saves for sixth place on the career list. Jansen retired Sean Murphy on a shallow fly, gave up a double to Eddie Rosario, retired Ozzie Albies on a flyout and struck out Travis d’Arnaud to end it, lowering his ERA to 0.77.
Jansen is the first reliever since Detroit’s Francisco Rodríguez in 2016 to reach the 400-save milestone. Mariano Rivera of the Yankees is the career leader with 652 saves.
“It was awesome, man,” said Jansen, who had 350 saves in 12 years with the Los Angeles Dodgers during a run that lasted until 2021. “It’s a moment I won’t ever forget.”
Facing reliever Nick Anderson, Tapia drove in Jarren Duran from second to make it 3-2. The run was charged to A.J. Minter (2-4).
Triston Casas hit a two-run homer 442 feet off Braves closer Raisel Iglesias to make it 5-2 in the ninth. It was the first long ball Iglesias has allowed since last June 16, snapping a homerless innings streak of 42 2/3 innings.
The Braves began the night leading the NL with an .809 OPS and a .465 slugging percentage, but didn’t score a run against Boston starter Brayan Bello (2-1) until Ronald Acuña Jr. hit his seventh homer, a 470-foot shot to left with an exit velocity of 113.9 mph to trim the lead to 2-1 in the sixth. It was Acuña’s longest homer of the season and the fourth-longest of his career.
Austin Riley followed with a single and scored from second on Rosario’s single to make it 2-all.
“It felt good,” Acuña said. “It always feels good to hit a homer, but it wasn’t good enough because we lost.”
Bello allowed six hits and two runs in six innings.
Dylan Lee pitched 2 2/3 innings of hitless ball before Collin McHugh replaced him and gave up RBI singles to Kiké Hernández and Duran that put Boston up 2-0 in the fourth.
Lee, a reliever making his first start since Game 4 of the 2021 World Series, took the rotation spot of ace Max Fried, who went on the injured Tuesday with a strained left forearm.
The Red Sox snapped a two-game skid.
Bello was tough on the NL-best Braves early, giving up only singles to Michael Harris II in the third, Riley in the fourth and d’Arnaud in the fifth.
The clubhouse stayed closed to reporters for about 20 minutes so the team could celebrate Jansen’s accomplishment.
“It’s a testament to who he is,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “He was a catcher and he’s the seventh reliever to get 400 saves. Shoot, he was throwing 99 (mph) today. I know it’s special to him.”
Red Sox: RHP Garrett Whitlock, on the injured list since April 25 with elbow ulnar neuritis, will throw a three-inning simulated game Thursday at Fenway Park. Cora said Whitlock will likely make a rehab start before he returns. … Triple-A Worcester placed RHP Bryan Mata on the injured list with a sore shoulder.
Braves: RHP Kyle Wright said there is no timetable for his return from shoulder inflammation and speculated he might need longer to recover than Fried, who hopes to return in July.
Red Sox: After a day off Thursday, LHP James Paxton (0-0, 0.00) will make his Boston debut when the team begins a three-game home series against St. Louis. Paxton, who came off the injured list Wednesday, has been sidelined with a right hamstring strain.
Braves: After an off day Thursday, RHP Spencer Strider (4-0, 2.70) will face a yet to be announced starter when Atlanta opens a three-game series at Toronto. By GEORGE HENRY AP Sports Writer