ARLINGTON, Texas — Brock Holt said Thursday that he’d always root for the Red Sox, except when he was playing against them. The seven seasons he spent in Boston were the most memorable of his career.
Holt had two hits against the Sox on Friday and at one point danced down the third base line like he intended to steal home, grinning the entire time.
Then Sunday, Holt stuck a dagger in his former team.
His two-out single off Matt Barnes in the bottom of the eighth inning led to two runs as the Rangers came back to beat the Red Sox, 5-3.
“Obviously, the Red Sox thing, it’s cool. But it would have felt good regardless of who it was,” said Holt, who wore a Texas flag-themed cowboy hat to his postgame press conference. It went well with his handlebar mustache.
Holt had short stints with the Brewers and Nationals after the Red Sox let him walk as a free agent following the 2019 season.
The Rangers signed him to a minor league contract before this season and Holt has become the lefthanded side of a platoon at third base.
The hit Sunday was his biggest of the season. It left the Red Sox stunned.
“It stung, it stung. Especially coming from him,” Xander Bogaerts said. “He’s a good player, man. I know definitely he wanted that at-bat and to be clutch in that situation.”
The Sox had a 3-2 lead going into the eighth inning with Adam Ottavino on the mound, the situation manager Alex Cora wanted.
But Ottavino walked lefthanded-hitting Nate Lowe on five pitches to start the inning, missing badly four times.
“The leadoff walk, that’s the game,” Ottavino said. “A leadoff walk and your margin for error shrinks.”
Lowe then took a walking lead and easily stole second. Now the tying run was in scoring position.
“I was surprised that he stole being that he’s not really a speed guy,” Ottavino said. “It didn’t really bother me.”
Ottavino has been easy to steal on in his career, something the Red Sox have worked with him to clean up.
“That’s something, we have to get better. We have to help him out,” Cora said.
Ottavino retired the next two batters and had a chance to end the inning before another lefty hitter, David Dahl, singled to left field to drive in the tying run.
The meltdown continued when Isiah Kiner-Falefa walked on five pitches. Barnes was then called in from the bullpen.
Barnes struck Holt out on three pitches when he faced him for the first time last season. This time Holt lined a high fastball to center.
“He’s a championship-caliber player,” Cora said. “He’s done it before. He put a good swing on a fastball up and he found green.”
Dahl scored, as did Kiner-Falefa after center fielder Alex Verdugo overran the ball.
Rangers closer Ian Kennedy needed only five pitches in the ninth to dispose of the Red Sox. The last seven hitters went in order against the Texas bullpen.
Red Sox starter Garrett Richards allowed one run on four hits over five innings. He walked one and struck out seven.
Richards left the game with a 2-1 lead the bullpen didn’t hold.
Darwinzon Hernandez worked a scoreless sixth inning. With a 3-1 lead, the Sox turned to Garrett Whitlock.
The rookie allowed his first run of the season, a leadoff home run by Kiner-Falefa, before getting through the inning.
Bogaerts (3 for 4) scored the first two runs for the Sox. He singled in the second inning off Mike Foltynewicz, reaching on a popup the Texas infield lost in the sun. Bogaerts took third on a double by Marwin Gonzalez and scored on a groundout by Hunter Renfroe.
Bogaerts led off the fifth inning with a solo homer to center, his fifth of the season.
The Sox manufactured a run in the seventh inning. Renfroe singled and took second on a sacrifice bunt by slumping Franchy Cordero. Kevin Plawecki’s groundout moved Renfroe to third ahead of a single by another slumping hitter, Kiké Hernández.
The bullpen was set up to send the Sox home with a series split but Holt was standing in the way as Texas took 3 of 4 in the series.
The 17-12 Sox, who return to Fenway Park for a three-game homestand against the Detroit Tigers beginning Tuesday, are 8-9 after a nine-game win streak that energized their season.
“We’re still a good team,” Cora said. “Nothing has changed. Like I told you guys when we started 0-3, we felt we had a good team. And after we won all those games, we still have a good team.”