CINCINNATI — A single grounded into center field never felt so good to Jackie Bradley Jr. as it did Wednesday.
The hit snapped an 0-for-35 streak for the Red Sox center fielder. It was the longest active hitless streak for a position player in the majors and 11 short of the major league record set by Bill Bergen in 1909. The modern-day record is 45 by Craig Counsell in 2011.
“I got some hugs in the dugout,” Bradley said after the Red Sox beat the Reds, 5-4. “It was good, back on track.”
Bradley hit a sinker on the outside corner sharply for his first hit since July 26. His batting average dropped from .236 to .211 during the slump.
“Embarrassing, annoying,” said Bradley. “As time goes on, you really can’t worry about being embarrassed in this game. You play the game long enough, you’ll go through a lot more than just that. I just tried to focus game to game.”
Bradley said the toughest part was striking out 18 times in those 35 fruitless at-bats.
“This striking out thing is not what I’m used to,” he said. “It’s tough. I’ve never been known to strike out at this alarming rate. I’m going to keep battling, keep working.
“In my mind, it’s 1 for 3 today. Start over.”
Bradley has been trying to regain a comfortable swing after weeks of tinkering.
“Going back to college days, what was feeling good to me and sticking with that and refining that after trying out things,” he said.
He also has had to filter out some of the different messages he has been receiving.
“You have to get rid of all that clutter,” said Bradley. “You have a lot of people who want to help you and want great things to happen for you.
“But some of that stuff you’ve got to kind of slide to the side. If anybody knows who you are, it’s yourself. That’s what I’m learning more about each day and each season, I’m learning myself.”
Bradley got on base two times, the second time in painful fashion. He led off the ninth inning against Aroldis Chapman and took a 100-mile-per-hour fastball off the right triceps.
“That ball probably still has some bone marrow juice on it,” Bradley said. “It might have touched the bone.”
Bradley said that wasn’t the worst pain he’s ever felt on the field.
“It didn’t feel bad, honestly,” he said. “I wouldn’t want him to try again.”
Yoenis Cespedes was pinch hit for in the seventh inning because of what the Red Sox said was a contusion on his right hand. The left fielder was 1 for 3 with an RBI (his sixth in the last three games) before coming out.
Manager John Farrell said Cespedes “got jammed pretty good” when he singled in the fifth inning.
“Wanted to stay in the game, but felt a little soreness in it,” said Farrell. “Might have affected the grip, so took it out of his hands.”
No X-rays were taken. Cespedes left the park with a wrap around his right forearm but nothing on his hand.
Cespedes, who has hit safely in eight straight games and nine of 10 since he joined the Red Sox, nodded when asked if he would be able to play Thursday.
“I’m OK,” he said.
Half a day off
With the Red Sox at the end of an eight-day road trip and an 11-game homestand starting Thursday, second baseman Dustin Pedroia was out of the starting lineup.
“He understood it,” Farrell said. “I think that 19-inning game [Saturday] took a lot out of every one of our position players, those guys who went wire to wire. To see him come back on Sunday and play a full nine innings the way he did, this will be a good day for him to recuperate a little bit.”
Pedroia got his last day off July 24 and then hit .364 with an .870 OPS in the 16 games that followed.
The vacation was brief. Pedroia pinch hit against lefthander Manny Parra in the seventh inning and fouled out. It was Pedroia’s 10th career appearance as a pinch hitter, the third in the last five seasons. He stayed in the game to play second base.
If at first . . .
David Ortiz had a day off as Mike Napoli played first base. Ortiz played first base in two games on the road trip and five times this season so far. Ortiz hasn’t committed any errors and has handled himself well around the bag.
“Much like we anticipate, without consistent games played there, he does a very good job,” Farrell said. “He’s played flawless. The play has been very consistent and more than adequate.”
Ortiz does not have much range and tries to stay out of the way of popups. But he handles throws well and isn’t afraid to throw the ball.
“The hands don’t go away,” Ortiz said. “I’ve always been able to play there. But I’m glad we’re going home.”
Outfielder Corey Brown, who had not played for seven games after being called up, made his Red Sox debut in the ninth inning and struck out on three pitches from Chapman that were each more than 100 miles per hour. Chapman struck out the side after hitting Bradley. Of Chapman’s 14 pitches, nine were at least 100, with a high of 102 . . . The Sox are 19-32 against American League East teams and 35-33 otherwise . . . The Sox were 4-0 against the Reds this season and lead the regular-season series, 9-1 . . . The Sox are 24-23 in one-run games . . . The Reds took right fielder Jay Bruce out of the lineup about an hour before the first pitch because of an illness . . . Brandon Workman, who was scratched from his start Wednesday to get some rest, is scheduled to start against the Angels Monday . . . Cespedes hit go-ahead home runs in the eighth inning on Sunday and Tuesday. According to research by the Elias Sports Bureau, he is the first Red Sox player to hit game-winning homers in consecutive games in the eighth inning or later since Reid Nichols Aug. 23-24, 1992, at Seattle . . . Brock Holt has a seven-game hit streak and has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 . . . Kelly Johnson, who started at third base and moved to left field, had his first hit as a member of the Red Sox with a single in the fifth inning.