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Brennan Bernardino's incredible escape act helps Red Sox beat Orioles for first time this season

BOSTON -- Red Sox reliever Brennan Bernardino is used to being put in tough spots. The lefty also has a knack for getting out of them, and has become an important escape artist in the Boston bullpen.

Bernardino pulled off an incredible escape act in Baltimore on Tuesday night, helping Boston notch its first win over the Baltimore Orioles in five tries this season. Bernardino escaped a bases loaded, no out jam in the bottom of the sixth with the Red Sox hanging onto a 4-3 lead.

Bernardino took the mound after Boston starter Brayan Bello allowed the first two runners of the inning to reach. He walked Ryan Mountcastle on six pitches to put an Oriole at every base, but then went through the rest of the inning like a buzzsaw. 

Maybe Bernardino just wanted the challenge of such a high pressure situation, because he threw just one ball the rest of the inning. He struck out Austin Hays on four pitches for the first out. He needed just two pitches to induce a weak grounder off the bat of Jorge Mateo and got the out at home for the second out of the inning.

Bernardino got out of the jam by striking out Gunnar Henderson -- the 2023 AL Rookie of the Year -- on three pitches. Henderson watched a pair of sinkers before swinging and missing at a third one in the zone to end the Baltimore threat.

No one was was more excited than Bello, who bounced up and down in the Boston dugout after Bernardino fanned Henderson. Bello earned his sixth win of the season when the Red Sox walked off the field with an 8-3 win, and Bernardino was credited with his second hold of the year.

"It feels good. That's literally what my job is, to come into situations and help my starter," Bernardino said after the win. "It felt great to do that."

One shutdown inning wasn't enough for the southpaw, who went out and put up another zero in the seventh. He fanned two more batters -- Adley Rutschman swinging and Colton Cowser looking -- with a Ryan O'Hearn lineout sandwiched in the middle.

In a surprising move ahead of the season, the Red Sox left Bernardino off the Opening Day roster, opting for Joely Rodriguez to serve as the team's lefty reliever to start the year. Rodriguez was a mess though, and was designated for assignment on April 28 after allowing eight earned runs in 11 innings.

Starting the year in the minors left Bernardino shocked, but he was told to stay ready because he'd be back in the big leagues soon enough. It also put a chip on his shoulder, and he's done nothing but shut opponents down since returning to the Majors on April 9. 

Over his 20 appearances, Bernardino owns a 0.78 ERA to go with a 0.83 WHIP. Opponents are hitting just .123 against him, and just one of the 10 runners that he's inherited this season has crossed home plate this season. Last season, Bernardino allowed just four of his 30 inherited runners to score.

"He's a big part of what we're trying to accomplish, not only between the lines but in the clubhouse," manager Alex Cora said about Bernardino on Tuesday night. "He's well respected. He understands the things that we like to do. And it was awesome to see him perform this way."

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