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The Grand Slam: Grady Sizemore’s comeback continues with clutch home run

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

So far, so good for Grady Sizemore in his comeback bid with the Boston Red Sox. The 31-year-old outfielder has been among Boston's most consistent players early in the season, and on Friday night was its most valuable. His three-run sixth inning homer off former teammate CC Sabathia capped a four-run inning and led the Red Sox to a 4-2 victory over the New York Yankees.

The home run came in support of Jon Lester, who allowed two earned runs over six and two-thirds innings to notch his first victory of the season despite a solid 2.57 ERA. Afterward, it seemed Sizemore's focus was on just that, supporting Lester and delivering that one key hit he needed to finally find some breathing room on the hill.

"Good to have a rally there in that inning,'' Sizemore said. ''We've kind of struggled with Jon on the mound. It's nice to pick him up and get some runs for him.''

With that attitude and some decent production to go with it, Sizemore won't have any trouble winning over his new teammates. In fact, it seems he's already well on his way.

Sizemore concluded the night hitting 333/.394/.600 with two homers over nine games. Numbers that won't be easy to sustain, but well beyond what Boston could have hoped for early on.

The only downside for Boston: Edward Mujica picked up the save as manager John Farrell reports regular closer Koji Uehara experienced minor stiffness during pregame warm ups. He's considered day-to-day.

PHILLIES BREAK OUT AGAINST JOSE FERNANDEZ: Facing Miami's 21-year-old phenom isn't the best recipe for breaking a four-game losing streak, but that's exactly what the Philadelphia Phillies did in their 6-3 win on Friday night. Philadelphia was able to strike quickly, which is always important against baseball's best hurlers. A two-spot in the first inning keyed by Marlon Byrd's RBI double got the offense rolling and Fernandez's pitch count up. They continued wearing him down in the third, scoring one more on Ryan Howard's bases loaded walk. Then they applied the finishing touches in the fifth, breaking through for three more.

It was an unlikely but noteworthy outburst because it was the first time Fernandez has allowed more than three earned runs in a start since last May 27 against the Tampa Bay Rays, a stretch covering 22 starts. It had been since July 7 that he allowed more than two earned runs. Both quite impressive. It was also the first time in 17 starts that Fernandez has allowed more than five hits. According to ESPN's Jayson Stark, that's the longest such streak over the last 100 years.

The kid is special, but the Phillies obviously had his number Friday.

ONE-HIT WONDER: Andrew Cashner was a popular pick for a true breakout season in 2014. You'll have a difficult time convincing the Detroit Tigers it's not in the cards after the 27-year-old right-hander shut them out on one hit in the Padres 6-0 victory. It's actually the second one-hitter in Cashner's 35 career starts, which should deeply concern San Diego's foes in the NL West. The other came last Sept 16. against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The only blemish keeping Cashner from history was Rajai Davis' bloop single just out of the reach of second baseman Jedd Gyorko with one-out in the sixth. That snapped a string of 14 straight batters retired after Miguel Cabrera reached on a Chase Headley error in the first inning. Cashner capped the outstanding effort with a career-high 11 strikeouts.

MADISON BUMGARNER SLAMS HIS WAY TO VICTORY: San Francisco's opening day starter took charge on both sides of the field in leading the Giants to a 6-5 victory at AT&T Park.

After spotting the Colorado Rockies an early three run lead, Bumgarner got San Francisco on the board with a third inning sacrifice fly that fell just a few feet shy of being a two-run homer. In his next at-bat two innings later, Bumgarner found the extra few feet and then some, clearing the wall by plenty for his third career home. And to make things even better, this time the bases were loaded, giving Bumgarner five RBIs on the night and the Giants a three run lead of their own.

That would prove important later as Colorado chipped away against the Giants bullpen. However, in the ninth, Sergio Romo shut things down quickly to preserve the win.

With the win, Bumgarner improves to 2-0 with a 3.31 ERA. And with the slam, he may move himself into consideration for pinch-hitting duties. His swing looked that good.

By the way, this was the first grand slam by a pitcher since Travis Wood hit one for the Chicago Cubs last May, so probably not as long ago as you thought.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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