Benintendi lifts Red Sox over Pirates 5-3 in post-Ortiz era
BOSTON (AP) -- The Red Sox bid farewell to a legend at the end of last season. This season opened with a big day for one of their rising stars.
Reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello (1-0) gave up three runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings while striking out five. Craig Kimbrel retired Starling Marte on a game-ending popup with two on for the save.
''That was awesome,'' Benintendi said. ''We're all excited to start playing games that actually matter. It was a fun experience.''
What manager John Farrell said has impressed him most about 22-year-old during his short time in the majors is the lack of panic. Benintendi homered on a 98 mph fastball on a 2-2 count.
''He sees the ball extremely well and has a true understanding of the strike zone,'' Farrell said. ''A pretty special young player.''
Playing the team it beat in the first World Series in 1903, Boston opened against a National League opponent for just the second time.
Gerrit Cole (0-1), the first overall pick in the 2011 amateur draft, gave up five runs and seven hits in five innings.
Cole said he threw a 2-2 pitch to Benintendi to strike him out looking in the first inning. He tried the same offering in the fifth.
''Obviously, he was not going to let that get by him again,'' Cole said.
Ortiz retired after last season after helping the Red Sox win three Series titles, their first since 1918.
Even without Ortiz, there was still plenty of pageantry at Fenway Park.
The ceremonial first pitch was attended a quintet of members Super Bowl champion New England Patriots headlined by MVP quarterback Tom Brady, who made the toss. They were joined by owner Robert Kraft and all five of the franchise's Lombardi trophies.
It may have brought the hometown team some good luck.
Sandy Leon bunted his way on, Sandoval scored on Dustin Pedroia's line-drive single up the middle and Benintendi homered.
Porcello allowed only three hits through six innings. Josh Harrison had an RBI single in the seventh, and the Pirates added two runs off Matt Barnes before Andrew McCutchen struck out for the third time.
Red Sox: LHP David Price (left elbow) is still working on increasing his throwing distances and is set to throw again Tuesday. ,,, Manager John Farrell said RHP Tyler Thornburg (right shoulder) is still isn't throwing.
Along with his homer, Benintendi had what might have been a game-saving catch in seventh inning. Trailing 5-2 in the seventh, the Pirates had the bases loaded when Starling Marte hit a hard liner to left. But Benintendi was able to haul in a running, over-the-shoulder grab to limit the damage to a run, with Josh Harrison scoring from third on a tag up.
Bradley Jr. also had a nice running catch against the bullpen wall in the fourth inning to go along with his triple in the fifth to start the rally.
''I think it gave us some momentum. It was a little bit of a spark,'' Farrell said of Bradley's grab.
Pittsburgh lost its first opening day game vs. an AL opponent. The Pirates are 71-60 in 131 openers, including 55-45 in 100 road openers. They fell to 7-6 against the Red Sox during the regular season.
Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon is on the hill Wednesday after the series' takes an off day Tuesday. He has a 5-4 record and 3.38 ERA in 18 starts with the Pirates.
Red Sox: LHP Chris Sale makes his Boston debut Wednesday after being acquired in an offseason trade with the White Sox.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/khightower