For the third time in four games, the Boston Red Sox overcame an early deficit to pull out a 7-6 victory in last night’s game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Trailing 5-1 going into the bottom of the 4th, the Sox rallied to tie the score in the 5th inning, capped by a Kevin Youkilis two-run homer that landed in the heart of the Monster Seats.
In a game that had the potential to be a stellar pitching match up, Red Sox starter Josh Beckett was scratched from the lineup a few hours before the scheduled first pitch with soreness in his neck. David Pauley was pulled up from Triple-A Pawtucket to make the spot start in his absence and lasted 4 1/3 innings allowing 5 runs on 7 hits.
Angels starter Jered Weaver allowed a leadoff homerun to Jacoby Ellsbury but settled down after his club put 3 runs up on the board in the 3rd inning. Weaver looked dominant in the bottom half of the 3rd striking out the side in Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. Angels catcher Jeff Mathis added 2 more runs on his 3rd homer of the year in the 4th.
Boston found themselves in a familiar situation, down by a few runs and in need of some clutch hitting to pull out a win. Luckily for them, that hasn’t been a problem.
“We didn’t quit,” Pedroia said. “They had a lead. We strung together at-bats.”
The rally began with a Julio Lugo RBI single in the 4th that knocked home left-fielder J.D. Drew to make the score 5-2 in favor of Anaheim. Lugo has now hit safely in the last 8 games, recording 14 hits and raising his average to .324 on the year.
Julian Tavarez relieved Pauley in the 5th and was able to force Tori Hunter of the Angels to ground into an inning ending double play, giving the Sox some momentum heading into their at bat.
Pedroia kept it going by leading of the inning blasting a double to right center field that Vlad Guerrero made a play on but the ball hit the webbing in his glove, popped out and was ruled a hit. Ortiz then singled through the shift to center field knocking in Pedroia to cut the lead to 5-3. Ramirez was up next and nearly tied the game with a shot down the right field line, that almost found its way into the stands behind Pesky’s Pole, but Guerrero redeemed himself making a great catch on the run that took away a homerun from Manny.
However, no one was catching Kevin Youkilis’s bomb over the wall into the Monster Seats that tied the game at 5-5. The shot made the Fenway Faithful forget all about Josh Beckett being scratched from his start
“Baseball isn’t a one-man game. It’s different guys every game,” said Kevin Youkilis. “There’s a lot of times when Josh will pitch well. There’s times when we’re going to need to score some runs for him.”
Jacoby Ellsbury cracked his second solo homerun of the game in the 6th inning giving the Sox the 6-5 lead which would hold for only an inning before the Angels Casey Kotchman belted a solo shot into the right field stands, tying the game at 6-6.
In the bottom of the 8th, Ellsbury got things going again reaching base on a bunt single. Pedroia then ripped a double to left for his fourth hit on the night, and Ellsbury scored all the way from first giving the Sox a 7-6 lead that would hold up. Jonathan Papelbon came in and pitched a perfect 9th inning to record his 8th save on the season. The closer’s fastball peaked at 100mph during his impressive performance.
The win is the Sox 6th in a row and puts them at 15-7 overall on the season, good enough for the best record in the American League. What makes that record stand out even more is the fact that they’ve been winning with Mike Lowell on the DL, Josh Beckett already missing two starts, Curt Schilling not playing (although that may be a good thing) and David Ortiz’s early season struggles.
When it comes down to it, good teams find a way to win. The Boston Red Sox aren’t making excuses; they’re simply going out and playing hardball each night with the mentality that they’re in every single game until the last out is made. They’re winning as a unit, and it seems like each game there’s a different hero delivering the knock out punch.
These are all signs of a good team, and the best part, they continue to get better and better each night.
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