Braves fall to Red Sox as Kenley Jansen posts 400th career save

AP photo by John Bazemore / Boston Red Sox closer Kenley Jansen celebrates after earning the 400th save of his MLB career in the team's 5-2 win over the host Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night.
AP photo by John Bazemore / Boston Red Sox closer Kenley Jansen celebrates after earning the 400th save of his MLB career in the team's 5-2 win over the host Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night.

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves were an inspiration to Kenley Jansen long before they became part of his playing career.

On Wednesday night, they were on the losing end of a milestone save as he continued his climb up Major League Baseball's charts.

Jansen became the seventh player in MLB history with 400 career saves, pinch-hitter Raimel Tapia delivered a go-ahead RBI double in the seventh inning, and the Boston Red Sox beat the Braves 5-2 on Wednesday night to split a two-game interleague series.

Jansen, who had 41 saves in 2022 in his only season with the Braves — he spent the first dozen years of his MLB career with the Los Angeles Dodgers – faced four batters for his ninth save in 10 chances in 2023.

"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, but he didn't mind doing it in Atlanta. He grew up as a Braves fan in Curaçao, cheering for longtime center fielder Andruw Jones, who was also from the island nation in the Caribbean.

"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 MLB's career list. Jansen retired Sean Murphy on a shallow fly ball, gave up a double to Eddie Rosario, retired Ozzie Albies on another flyout and struck out Travis d'Arnaud to end it, lowering his ERA to 0.77.

Jansen is the first reliever since Francisco Rodríguez for the Detroit Tigers in 2016 to reach the 400-save milestone. Former New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera is the career leader with 652 saves.

"It was awesome, man," said Jansen, who had 350 saves with the Dodgers. "It's a moment I won't ever forget."

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 (in the minor leagues), and he's the seventh reliever to get 400 saves. Shoot, he was throwing 99 (mph) today. I know it's special to him."

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 home run Iglesias has allowed since last June 16, snapping a streak of 42 2/3 innings.

The Braves began the night leading the National League with an .809 on-base percentage and a .465 slugging percentage, but they didn't score a run against Boston starter Brayan Bello (2-1) until Ronald Acuña Jr. hit his seventh homer of the season, 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 shot of his career.

"It felt good," Acuña said. "It always feels good to hit a homer, but it wasn't good enough because we lost."

Austin Riley followed with a single and scored from second on Eddie Rosario's single to make it 2-all.

Bello allowed six hits and two runs in six innings. Josh Winckowski faced the minimum in the seventh.

Atlanta's 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 that included Tuesday's 9-3 loss at Truist Park.

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.

Atlanta, first in the NL East, finished a five-game homestand against American League East Division opposition 3-2, having won a weekend series against the Baltimore Orioles. The Braves are off Thursday before opening a three-game series against another AL East team, the Toronto Blue Jays, on Friday in Canada.

Right-hander Spencer Strider (4-0, 2.70) is the scheduled starting pitcher against the Blue Jays, who have not announced their starter yet.

In injury news, another Atlanta right-handed starter, 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.

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