PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jeff Francoeur wanted to stick around baseball badly enough that he even tried pitching in the minors.
His bat and glove got him back to the majors.
Francoeur hit a three-run homer, Aaron Harang took a one-hitter into the seventh inning and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Boston Red Sox and Rick Porcello 4-2 Wednesday night.
“It was nice,” Francoeur said of circling the bases. “It was a lot of hard work last year, makes you appreciate being back here and you don’t want to miss the opportunity.”
Making his Red Sox debut after signing an $82.5 million, four-year contract through 2019, Porcello (0-1) allowed three runs and six hits in six innings.
“One big mistake was the difference,” Porcello said.
Harang (1-0) gave up two hits, walked one and struck out eight in 6 1-3 innings in his first start for the Phillies. Jonathan Papelbon got four outs against his former team for his first save.
A fired-up Papelbon pumped his fist after striking out Xander Bogaerts for the final out. Then the mercurial closer faced a barrage of questions from reporters after he told a Boston writer before the game that he “don’t really feel much like a Phillie.”
“What is a Phillie? Is it a horse? I feel like a horse,” Papelbon said, confusing the team’s nickname with filly, a young female horse. “The Red Sox run deep in my blood because that’s where I grew up and became a pitcher.”
Papelbon played seven seasons in Boston, won a World Series and holds the franchise record for saves with 219. He says it’s “obvious” the Red Sox didn’t want him back, so he signed a $50 million, four-year deal with the Phillies in November 2012. He’s six saves away from setting their franchise record.
Bogaerts hit an RBI single off Ken Giles in the eighth to cut it to 4-1. Giles struck out pinch-hitter David Ortiz with two runners on for the first out. But he walked Pablo Sandoval to force in a run with two outs.
Papelbon entered and retired Hanley Ramirez on a deep drive to left with the bases loaded to end the inning. Ramirez hit two homers, including a grand slam in Boston’s 8-0 win on opening day.
“It was hit pretty good,” Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said, thankful the wind kept it in the park. “It was the wrong night.”
The Red Sox got Porcello from Detroit in an offseason trade for slugger Yoenis Cespedes. They made sure he wouldn’t test free agency after the season by giving him the most lucrative contract for a pitcher in franchise history.
Porcello ran into trouble in the sixth when he walked Darin Ruf on a close 3-2 pitch. Cody Asche followed with a single. Francoeur then drove one out to left-center for Philadelphia’s first runs this season and his first homer since June 16, 2013, for Kansas City at Tampa.
“I hammered it,” he said.
Francoeur bounced around the majors in recent years and even tried pitching for San Diego’s Triple-A team last year. He was on the bubble to make the Phillies’ roster until the final day and got the start in right field against Porcello instead of left-handed hitting Grady Sizemore because he was 7 for 19 against him entering the game.
Chase Utley’s sacrifice fly in the seventh inning made it 4-0.
On a chilly, rainy night, Harang retired the first 11 batters he faced before Sandoval lined a single to center for his first hit with the Red Sox. Harang outpitched Porcello in matchup of right-handers with new teams.
“You don’t want to be the goat,” Harang said.
Red Sox: RHP Joe Kelly, who was slowed by a right biceps injury in spring training, will make another start in the minors before joining the rotation. Knuckleballer Steven Wright will start at the New York Yankees on Saturday in his place.
Phillies: CF Odubel Herrera wasn’t in the starting lineup because his left foot was still sore after he hit a foul off it on opening day. He entered as a defensive replacement in the eighth.
RHP Justin Masterson makes his first start for the Red Sox since 2009 in the series finale Thursday night. Masterson, who was traded to Cleveland six years ago, was 7-9 with a 5.88 ERA for the Indians and St. Louis last year. RHP David Buchanan takes the mound for Philadelphia. He was 6-8 with a 3.75 ERA as a rookie in 2014.
The teams will wear retro 1915 baseball caps on Wednesday. The Red Sox beat the Phillies in the World Series that season.
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