Red Sox pitcher Tanner Houck delivers a pitch Saturday night against the Atlanta Braves. Houck allowed a run for the first time in three major-league starts but struck out 10 and improved to 3-0. John Bazemore/Associated Press

ATLANTA — Rookie right-hander Tanner Houck struck out 10 in another dominant performance, Christian Vazquez capped a big inning with a grand slam, and the Boston Red Sox routed the Atlanta Braves 8-2 Saturday night.

Giving the Red Sox reason to be hopeful after a dismal season, Houck (3-0) surrendered his first earned run in three big league starts but thoroughly stifled baseball’s most explosive offense.

Boston did all its scoring in an eight-run second, capped by Vazquez’s second career grand slam.

Houck surrendered only three hits, walked three and held the Braves scoreless until Dansby Swanson led off the fifth with his 10th homer.

Marcell Ozuna and Adeiny Hechavarría had the only other hits off the right-hander, who turned it over to the bullpen after throwing 94 pitches in six innings. His ERA for an abbreviated debut season is 0.53.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence right now,” Houck said. “But this game is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. You’ve got to go out and produce outing to outing, year to year. There’s a lot of work to be done still. But I’m ready to put in the work.”

Braves Manager Brian Snitker was certainly impressed.

“He’s nasty,” Snitker said. “He’s got a little funky delivery that he kind of crossfires at you. Guys like that are effectively wild. But his stuff was live.”

Tucker Davidson (0-1) made his big league debut for the Braves, who already locked up the NL East and the No. 2 seed in the playoffs.

Davidson breezed through the first, striking out two while working around a walk, but wildness and a shaky defense doomed him in the second.

After Jackie Bradley Jr. walked with one out, Bobby Dalbec followed with a 449-foot drive into the empty left-field bleachers to stake the Red Sox to a 2-0 lead.

Hechavarría botched Michael Chavis’ grounder to third base for an error, Christian Arroyo singled and Alex Verdugo walked to load the bases.

Davidson had a chance to escape with no further damage, only to have the infield let him down again. Rafael Devers hit a sharp grounder to Swanson, who bobbled what could’ve been an inning-ending double play. The shortstop recovered in time for a forceout, but the relay throw was too late to get Devers, bringing home another run and extending the inning.

Xander Bogaerts followed with a run-scoring single, Davidson doled out his third walk of the inning to J.D. Martinez to load the bases again, and the Braves went to the bullpen.

The move backfired when Grant Dayton served up a 1-0 pitch that Vazquez – who had started the inning with a flyout – launched into the second level down the left-field line to clear the bases.


Ron Roenicke isn’t sure if he’ll be back for another season as Red Sox manager.

Roenicke, 64, took over the job in January after Alex Cora was forced out because of his role in the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal when he was Houston’s bench coach.

“Of course, I would like to know either way. But whatever happens, I’ll be fine,” Roenicke said.

He seemed to make a pitch to keep the job.

“I feel like this year, as difficult as it was, I thought it went well on my end,” he said. “I tried to do everything I could to make things work out.”

As if the season wasn’t tough enough, Roenicke took a nasty tumble onto his back in the ninth inning while avoiding a liner into the dugout by Vazquez.

“It was not the most coordinated move to get out of the way,” the manager said. “I’m pretty sore, but it’s OK.”


Red Sox: Right-hander Phillips Valdéz took a liner off the left leg in the eighth but was able to finish out the inning.

Braves: Third baseman Austin Riley is sitting out the final two games of the regular season to deal with a sore quadriceps. He tweaked the injury Friday and the Braves decided not to take any more chances ahead of the playoffs. “We’ll just stay away from him for the rest of the weekend,” Manager Brian Snitker said. “I think he’ll be fine.”


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