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Late homers lift Sox

On consecutive pitches in the top of the eighth, Brandon Jacobs and Xander Bogaerts launched nearly identical missiles out to deep left-center, transforming a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead that held for a Salem Sunday victory over Potomac at Pfitzner Stadium.

The solo homers off major league rehabbing Ryan Mattheus surged the Sox in front, and Andrew Jones and Mike Olmsted slammed the door shut to bring the Red Sox within two and a half games of the first-place Winston-Salem Dash heading into the final week of the half.

Brandon Workman pitched brilliantly for Salem but did not factor into the decision in a game that saw both teams finish 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Workman scattered five singles over six innings, permitting two runs, but just one earned, with five strikeouts and no walks. He dealt 59 of his 81 pitches for strikes, but left with Salem trailing 2-1.

The Sox fell behind 1-zip in the first when Potomac’s Blake Kelso singled, stole second and third, and crossed home on Chris Marrero’s ground-out. The Red Sox mounted countless opportunities, but ended up stranding a man in scoring position in five consecutive innings after the first.

Salem did even the score in the fourth, taking advantage of Bogaerts’ one-out walk issued by Trevor Holder. Carson Blair doubled home Bogaerts to tie it up at one, but the Nationals quickly reassumed the lead with an unearned run in the fifth. A pivotal Bogaerts throwing error enabled J.P. Ramirez to score on a grounder to short, but Bogaerts would make amends with his bat.

The 19-year-old Salem shortstop finished 3-for-3 with a walk, including a double and a homer, his eighth of the season. Bogaerts’ bomb gave Salem the lead after Jacobs’ crushed his third of the year, sending it off a panel on the humungous videoboard. Jackie Bradley, Jr. added two hits and two walks for Salem, going 2-for-3 on the day.

Jones picked up the win, improving to 2-0, with two scoreless innings out of the Red Sox bullpen. Mike Olmsted slammed the door with a perfect ninth for his league-leading 12th save. Mattheus took the loss in his premier rehab appearance with Potomac, surrendering the pair of homers in his only inning on the mound.

Salem’s final road trip of the first half continues on Monday with a three-game series in Wilmington. Miguel Celestino is set to take the mound opposite Tyler Sample, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05.