It looked like Doug Davis and the Arizona Diamondback were well on their way to another road victory over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Leading 4-1 entering the eighth inning, Davis appeared to have everything under control. He’d allowed only five hits and one run, which came way back in the first inning on a Dustin Pedroia solo homerun. Other then that, things were looking pretty good and a win was only six outs away. Unfortunately for Davis and Arizona, the Boston bats came to life scoring four runs on six hits in the eighth inning propelling them to the 5-4 victory Tuesday night.
Julio Lugo and Jacoby Ellsbury opened the inning with back-to-back singles off of Davis before he was removed from the game by Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin. Davis was replaced by right-handed relief pitcher Chad Qualls who would not make it out of the inning.
Pedroia ripped an RBI single plating Lugo to pull the score to 4-2. J.D. Drew would then strike out to bring Manny Ramirez to the plate with two on and one out. Ramirez made a productive out, grounding out to third but in doing so advancing both runners into scoring position setting the stage for Mike Lowell.
Sitting fastball, Lowell belted a waist high two-seamer off the Green Monster to knock home both Ellsbury and Pedroia tying the game at 4-4. The double was Lowell’s 16th on the season and he’s now at 41 RBI’s on the year.
Up next, Jason Varitek picked a brilliant time to break out of his 1-30 slump and connected with an RBI single off of Qualls to drive in Lowell for the go-ahead run, putting the Sox up for good 5-4.
“Tek’s been a little bit unlucky,” said Lowell, “He’s hit better than just those numbers, but it always feels good for a ball to drop, especially in a big situation. Any comeback win is big, especially when I saw Tampa Bay won and we can stay atop our division.”
The win keeps the Sox one game ahead of the Rays in the AL East standings and makes next week’s showdown in Tampa Bay a match up that the Sox will be looking forward to. In their last meeting at Fenway Park, the two team’s benches cleared after Coco Crisp charged the mound after being hit by a Jamie Shields fastball.
With the loss, Arizona falls to 40-38 on the season but remains in the lead of the NL West by a four game margin over the LA Dodgers.
In the final game of the homestand, Boston will send Tim Wakefield to the mound to pitch against another seasoned veteran in Randy Johnson. While Johnson (4-5, 5.09 ERA) is 12 wins shy of 300 and second all-time with 4,687 strikeouts, Wakefield (4-5, 4.17) has lasted 16 seasons thanks to a slow knuckler and has a 172-151 career record. Both pitchers in their 40’s still put their teams in contention to win whenever they take the ball.
“The last four games that I’ve pitched have been extremely frustrating,” said Johnson, winless since May 18. “I feel good. I’m just frustrated because in all those games it’s essentially been one inning.”
Johnson has pitched very well at Fenway Park. Over the years he has compiled an 8-2 record there, despite a 5.01 ERA. He’s won his last four decisions in Boston. On the other hand, Wakefield has not received very good run support in front of the Fenway faithful. The Sox are averaging only 3.3 runs a game in his 15 starts this season.
Following tonight’s game the Sox will hit the road for a three game series in Houston which will wrap up interleague play. They will then head to Tampa Bay for the much anticipated Rays match up, followed by a four game series against the New York Yankees in the Bronx.
– If the Sox lose tonight, it will be the first time they have lost back to back series at Fenway Park in three years.
– J.D. Drew is hitless in the Arizona series, and so is his younger brother Stephen Drew. The two are a combined 0-16.
– David Ortiz may take some swings off a tee as early as this weekend to see where he is at in returning to the line up from his wrist injury that has sidelined him for 22 games so far.