MIAMI — Miami Marlins hopeful ace Sandy Alcantara worked through four strong innings and got himself out of a jam in the fifth before the Boston Red Sox cracked him in the sixth. Jackie Bradley Jr.'s two-out line drive to left field broke open a scoreless game.

That was all the Red Sox needed. Boston starting pitcher Tanner Houck, making his MLB debut, held Miami scoreless for five innings before their bullpen tossed four scoreless frames of its own to sink Miami, 2-0, on Tuesday to begin a three-game series.

It was the Marlins' second shutout loss of the homestand and their fifth of the season — all at Marlins Park. Miami drops to 24-22 on the season and its lead over the Philadelphia Phillies for second place in the National League East is now just a half-game after the Phillies beat the Mets. The Red Sox, who improve to 18-31, posted just their second shutout victory of the season.

"We're fighting right now. ... We have to keep doing that," Alcantara said. "We lost today, but we have to win tomorrow."

The Marlins can't afford too many losses like this.

Houck, the 10th-ranked prospect in the Red Sox's organization and the No. 24 overall pick in the 2017 MLB draft out of the University of Missouri, struck out seven Marlins hitters and allowed just two hits and three walks over his five innings of work. The first hit, a Corey Dickerson single to lead off the bottom of the first, was erased when Dickerson tried to stretch the base hit into a double but was tagged out at second.

Houck struck out Jazz Chisholm in the second and Miguel Rojas in the fourth with two outs and runners on first and second to escape a pair of jams.

Brian Anderson hit a two-out double in the ninth to bring the tying run to the plate but Garrett Cooper struck out swinging to end the game.

Alcantara, meanwhile, had arguably his best performance since returning from his bout with COVID-19 despite the lack of run support. He didn't walk a batter or have a runner in scoring position until the fifth inning, when he had his first rough patch of the night. Bobby Dalbec hit a soft ground ball to the left side for a one-out infield single and Christian Arroyo followed with a four-pitch walk. Alcantara got out of the situation by striking out Yario Munoz with a 96.8 mph sinker and getting Alex Verdugo to fly out to Starling Marte in center field.

He didn't have as much luck in the sixth. Xander Bogaerts hit a one-out single through the left side past a lunging Miguel Rojas and Christian Vazquez drew a two-out, full-count walk. That set up Bradley's double to left field.

The Red Sox's go-ahead run comes home.

Boston added an insurance run in the eighth when Christian Vazquez's RBI single off James Hoyt scored Rafael Devers, who led off the inning with a double against Richard Bleier.


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