13-7: Sox come back yet again, 6-5

Kevin Millwood pitched a gem of a game for the Texas Rangers, holding the Red Sox scoreless through six innings. Meanwhile, the Rangers had scored early on Tim Wakefield (2-0) and Milton Bradley added a mammoth 3-run Monster shot in the 6th to make it 5-0. Everything changed starting in the 7th inning, when the Red Sox scored two runs on RBI singles by David Ortiz and J.D. Drew to make it 5-2. The next inning, Boston made short work of Wes Littleton and closer C.J. Wilson, scoring four runs to take the lead. Wilson ended his outing with three consecutive walks, the last one of Sean Casey which forced in the go-ahead run in an amazing come-from-behind 6-5 victory.

Wakefield was good today, keeping an extremely low pitch count against an aggressive Rangers lineup. When have you seen a guy go 8 innings on just 86 pitches? That homer to Bradley certainly wasn’t pretty, but he was consistently around the zone and went eight innings, walking no one. Can’t ask more than that from Wake.

Manny Ramirez argued strike three call in the second, and got tossed from the game by home plate umpire Paul Emmell, putting a damper on things. With Coco Crisp unavailable, this created kind of a minor crisis in the outfield, but recent callup Joe Thurston filled in well. Give credit to our lineup, other guys really stepped up when it counted.

With two more stolen bases, Jacoby Ellsbury is on every catcher’s mind these days. For the second time in a four games, he stole second and made the opposing catcher, the usually sure-armed Gerald Laird, throw out into centerfield. Ellsbury is up to 15 straight successful steals in his career, and no one’s caught him yet. He took third on the play, but was stranded in the inning. Francona praised him before the game:

[Ellsbury] has the ability to get on base. He’ll take a walk. He’s not really expanding the strike zone. He’s fouling off pitches. He is definitely a threat with his legs; [he’s] very aggressive and runs with his head up and knows where the ball is. He does a lot of good things. That’s why we’re hitting him first.

Jed Lowrie and Big Papi played key roles in both the 7th and 8th inning scoring rallies. Lowrie led off the 7th with a double off the wall, and scored on a single by Ortiz which knocked Millwood out of the game. After Papi advanced to third on a double play ball, Drew singled him home to make it 5-2. Then the great two-out 8th inning rally began. After Ellsbury singled, Lowrie doubled again, this time to right field. Ron Washington decided to bring on his southpaw closer, Wilson, at this point to face Papi. Papi hit a sharp one into the shift, then outran the throw to first for a key single (the second in as many games). First baseman Ben Broussard assumed Papi was out, and started jogging off the field, which allowed Lowrie to score. That was followed by a long pinch-hit double by Dustin Pedroia. Ortiz scored, and Pedey advanced to third on a bad throw by Josh Hamilton. They decided to intentionally walk Kevin Youkilis, which is a testament to how much he’s improved as a hitter. Drew drew a walk, and then Casey just sat up there and waited. He was taking all the way, challenging Wilson to find the strike zone. Besides a 2-2 pitch that could have been called a strike, he didn’t.

Lowrie has really impressed with his production (5-12, 5 RBI) and his attitude. When Mike Lowell and Alex Cora return, Lowrie will eventually go back to Pawtucket, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in and out of here a couple more times this season.

Terry Francona gave Pedroia a well-deserved off-day, but he called on Pedey to pinch-hit in the 8th for Thurston. He answered the call with a shot to centerfield which scored Lowrie and Ortiz all the way from 1st base. That double was critical to the game-winning rally.

Jonathan Papelbon got his 7th save with a 3-up, 3-down 9th, but Hank Blalock did rip one down the line that just hooked foul. That was a potential game-tying run. Close call. Removing Thurston from the game meant we needed a left fielder, so Julio Lugo took the field there for the last half-inning. That Pedroia-Lowrie middle infield doesn’t look so bad, does it?

This game already marks the 5th comeback victory for Boston this season from the 7th inning on. These Sox aren’t hitting starting pitching well, but they sure are punishing bullpens everywhere. Coming into the game, Boston was hitting an impressive .319/.379/.522 as a team from the 7th inning on, and scored a Major League-high 36 runs in those late innings.

With the win, the Red Sox now boast the best record in the American League at 13-7. We’ve been here before, now, haven’t we? Great job, Sox.


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