ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Craig Kimbrel became the quickest pitcher to reach 300 career saves, closing out a 6-5 win by the Boston Red Sox after they rallied and got the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth inning at Texas on Saturday night.
Kimbrel worked a perfect ninth for his ninth save this season. His 300th save overall came in his 494th career appearance and 330th save opportunity, and just less than three weeks before his 30th birthday.
Andrew Benintendi hit a triple off the right-center wall in the ninth against Keone Kela (2-2) and scored on a sacrifice fly by Hanley Ramirez.
The Rangers had the bases loaded with one out in the eighth before Joe Kelly (1-0) struck out the only two batters he faced. He fanned Joey Gallo, the slugger who had already hit two impressive home runs, and then got Jurickson Profar on a called third strike to end an 11-pitch at-bat.
Kimbrel ended the game with a foul pop and two strikeouts to reach 300 saves quicker than anyone in terms of appearances, save opportunities and age. Mariano Rivera had gotten his 300th save in his 537th game, Joe Nathan in his 335th save opportunity and Francisco Rodriguez at age 31.
Boston is 24-9, the best record in the majors, and retained sole possession of the AL East lead a game ahead of the Yankees after New York (23-10) won for the 14th time in 15 games earlier Saturday, 5-2 at home over Cleveland. The Red Sox have been alone atop the division since April 1.
Four Red Sox pitchers combined for 17 strikeouts, matching the most against Texas this season.
Delino DeShields hit a three-run homer in the fifth that put the Rangers up 4-1, when the ball hit on top of the 14-foot wall down the left field line and ricocheted into the seats. It came immediately after Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez issued a two-out walk on a full-count changeup to No. 9 hitter Ryan Rua.
Mitch Moreland hit a two-run homer for the Red Sox in the sixth, and they got even in the seventh when Benintendi had an RBI double before coming home on a single by J.D. Martinez.
Gallo had homers estimated at 466 and 415 feet. It was the fifth multihomer game in Gallo’s career. The other four last season, all also at home. He is also only the fourth Rangers player with at least 12 homers in the first 30 games of a season, joining Josh Hamilton (2012), Juan Gonzalez (2003) and Ivan Rodriguez (2000) — all past AL MVPs.
Red Sox: Manager Alex Cora said right-handed reliever Austin Maddox (right shoulder strain) is progressing during extended spring training in Fort Myers, Florida.
Rangers: RHP Tim Lincecum (blister right middle finger) threw a 26-pitch bullpen session Saturday and will join Triple-A Round Rock on Wednesday for a rehab assignment. He’s on the 60-day DL and not eligible for reinstatement until May 28.
Rangers RHP Doug Fister (1-2, 2.88 ERA in five starts for Texas), who made 15 starts for the Red Sox last year after joining the team in late June, goes in the series finale. Boston LHP Chris Sale (2-1, 2.14) has won all three of his previous starts at Texas.