May 2, 2011: Red Sox 9, Angels 5

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May 2, 2011: Red Sox 9, Angels 5

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- The Red Sox offense came alive Monday night against the Angels, erupting for six runs in the seventh inning a season-high for one inning as Boston beat the Angels at Fenway Park, 9-5.

If this game is remembered for anything, it will be Dustin Pedroias 13-pitch at-bat in the fifth inning against Jered Weaver. On the 13th pitch, Pedroia lashed a grounder into center field, scoring Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury.

Clay Buchholz earned the win, improving his record to 2-3 (4.81). He went 6 23 innings, giving up two runs on eight hits and two walks, with two strikeouts and a wild pitch. It was Buchholzs first quality start of the season.

The Sox offense, which has betrayed the team so often this season, finally came around. Boston had 11 hits in the game, two shy of its season high, and the nine runs matched a season high. Batting with runners in scoring position has been a mark of futility this season, with the Sox batting just .212. Monday against the Angels they were 5-for-8 in such situations.

After a four-game sweep in Anaheim in April, the Sox are 5-0 against the Angels this season. They have outscored them, 29-10.

Player of the Game: Dustin Pedroia

While Pedroias 13-pitch at-bat against Jered Weaver mayhave been the turning point in the game, he was all over the field for the RedSox.

Just before his marathon at-batagainst Weaver, it was his defense that kept the Angels in check. In the top of the fifth, the Angels loadedthe bases with one out. Bobby Abreusshot up the middle seemed destined to score a couple of runs. Pedroia broke to his right, but Buchholz deflectedthe ball. Pedroia quickly reversed field,snagged the ball and tossed to Jed Lowrie covering second. Instead of two runsin with one out, just one run scored and there were two outs. Buchholz then gotHoward Kendrick to ground out, ending the threat.The play set the stage for Pedroias at-bat in the bottom ofthe inning, scoring two runs to give the Sox a lead they would not relinquish.He has a way of doing that, manager Terry Francona said. Hefights. He doesnt give in, not just at the plate, on the bases, in the field. Hegets a double-play ball, turns it into a double-play ball. On the bases he getsa great read. He plays the game. Hes a ballplayer.

Honorable Mention: Clay Buchholz

Wins have not come easy for Buchholz this season. With Mondays victory over the Angels, he improved to 2-3 with a 4.81 ERA. It was his first quality start of the season, besting the Angels Jered Weaver, who entered the game leading the league in wins, with six, ERA (0.99), strikeouts (49), opponents batting average (.163), and complete games (2), posting quality starts in each of his six previous outings.

Buchholz kept the Angels in check, going 6 23 innings, matching a season high, giving up two runs on eight hits and two walks with two strikeouts and a wild pitch.

Everybody knows going in that Weavers going to throw a lot of strikes, hes going to throw all his pitches for strikes, Buchholz said. That being said, as the guy going up against him, you got to keep their guys off balance and try to keep them off base. They made some early contact, had some runners in scoring-position situations. All I can do is try to limit the damage as best as I could. Got a couple of balls that were hit at guys and got out of the inning. But yeah, Weaver thats what he does. He goes out there and wins. Hes obviously a strikeout guy and not a whole lot of stuff going on on the base paths with him on the mound. It was a definitely a good step for this team.

The Goat: Francisco Rodriguez

The Red Sox had a slim one-run lead going into the seventh inning. Rodriguez entered with one out and runners on second and third after Hisanori Takahashi gave up consecutive one-out hits to Jason Varitek and Jacoby Ellsbury to start the inning. Rodriguez allowed the next four batters to reach base Pedroia on a walk, Adrian Gonzalez on a three-run double, Kevin Youkilis on an RBI double, and David Ortiz on a two-run homer before getting an out. The Red Sox scored six runs in the inning, a season high. Two runs were charged to Takahashi, four to Rodriguez.

Turning Point: Pedroia's 13-pitch battle

Dustin Pedroias 13-pitch at-bat was the signature moment of the game. With the Sox trailing, 2-1, in the fifth, two outs, and runners on second and third, Pedroia came to the plate. The Sox second baseman had just 4 hits in his last 23 at-bats, and was 3-for-25 in his career against Jered Weaver. But he worked Weaver for 13 pitches over nearly 10 minutes, including five straight 3-and-2 pitches that he fouled off. On the 13th pitch, Pedroia lashed a grounder in center field, scoring Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury.

Plays like that can serve as a catalyst not only for a game but also for a team that has been struggling to find ways to win.

To be honest with you, man, I was just trying to put the ball in play, Pedroia said. Jereds tough. I faced him a lot in college and the first few years in the big leagues and it doesnt get any better than him. I havent won too many of those, but it was nice to drive in a couple and kind of get things going.

By the Numbers: 5-for-8

Entering the game the Sox had been struggling to find ways to get runners in scoring position across the plate. They had been hitting just 54-for-255 (.212) in such sitautions this season.

Against the Angels Monday night, however, they were 5-for-8 (.625) with runners in scoring position

Its a nice way to play the game and it took us a while to do it, Terry Francona said. Theres night when you need your big guys to hit some three-run homers or hit a ball off the wall. But I thought we did a lot of good things tonight. You talk about Dustin Pedroia's at-bats, or they way he played defensively. And we had to because the way Weaver pitches, you better play a good game.

Quote of Note

Itwas awesome, man. Just one of those things that he just battled, battled,battled. And you see Weaver make pitch after pitch. And he just kept foulingthem off. And finally Weaver left,I think itwas a fastball away that Pedroia could handle and took it up the middle. It was great. -- AdrianGonzalez on Dustin Pedroias 13-pitch at-bat in the fifth inning that endedwith the tying and go-ahead runs scoring.

Freeman, Coleman lift Falcons past Saints, 45-32

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Freeman, Coleman lift Falcons past Saints, 45-32

NEW ORLEANS - Devonta Freeman practically wore out the Superdome turf with one long gain after another, Tevin Coleman wouldn't be denied near the goal line and the New Orleans Saints hardly looked like the team that made an emotional homecoming nearly 10 years ago to the day.

Cheers turned to boos, and many fans filed out early.

Coleman rushed for three touchdowns, Matt Ryan passed for two TDs and Deion Jones returned an interception 90 yards for a score to help the Atlanta Falcons beat the winless New Orleans Saints 45-32 on Monday night.

"It was real fun. Everybody was doing their job and everybody was playing for each other," Coleman said. "Everything clicked, and we got it done. It's a real big win for us to beat this team here."

The game coincided with New Orleans' celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the Saints' memorable return to the Superdome on Sept. 25, 2006, 13 months after Hurricane Katrina. But there would be no reprise of New Orleans' dominant and emotional 23-3 triumph over Atlanta a decade ago.

The Saints' depleted defense struggled to slow Freeman, who rushed for 152 yards and caught five passes for 55 yards. Coleman also was effective in the passing game out of the backfield, with three receptions for 47 yards to go with his 42 yards rushing.

"We have to stop the run better," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "They were over 200 yards in situations where you knew the run was coming, even at the end of the game."

Ryan finished with 240 yards passing for Atlanta (2-1), which did not turn the ball over and moved into sole possession of first place in the NFC South.

Drew Brees put up his usual big numbers - 376 yards and three TDs passing - and hit tight end Coby Fleener seven times for 109 yards and a TD. But Brees' tipped pass that resulted in Jones' TD return early in the fourth quarter gave the Falcons a 45-25 lead that proved too much for New Orleans to overcome.

Hayes knows he's a good player, wants to silence the critics

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Hayes knows he's a good player, wants to silence the critics

BOSTON, Mass. – There’s a long way to go toward a complete resurrection from last season’s misdeeds, but Jimmy Hayes made a nice little statement that he’s learned some lessons in Boston’s preseason debut. The Bruins lost the game, 3-2, in the shootout to the Columbus Blue Jackets, but Hayes scored one of the two goals for the Black and Gold as one of the few veterans in a very youthful lineup for Boston.

The Hayes goal was a nice give-and-go with Jake DeBrusk at the end of a nice transition play in the second period, and was the highlight of a night playing on the right wing with DeBrusk and center Austin Czarnik. The score and a team-high four shots on net for Hayes represent a good start for what he hopes is a gigantic rebound season after last year’s disappointment.

Clearly Hayes heard some of the unflattering chatter about him on sports talk radio and otherwise last season, and may even understand how his difficult season in his home city of Boston -- whether he actively expressed it to him or not -- might have been a factor in his buddy Jimmy Vesey ultimately choosing New York over Boston.

It appears the former Boston College standout is looking to change the conversation in Boston. 

“Yeah, sure am. I’ve got a lot to come out here and…[there were] a lot of comments about myself, but I know I’m a good player. I got to this level for a reason,” said Hayes, who dropped from 19 goals and 35 points with the Panthers to 13 goals, 29 points and a career-worst minus-12 for the Bruins last season.

“To be able to play at the NHL level and continue to play at that level on a consistent basis is what I expect out of myself. I do it for myself and our teammates, and to help our team win. I’ll continue moving forward.

“It’s funny being the old guy on the line. It’s nice to see those young guys and see how excited they are, and how excited I am to get back out there. That’s what I said to the guys, they still have the jitters and they still have them for the first preseason game. It shows that these guys want it and it’s been a lot of fun skating with those guys. They’ve got a lot of speed and to keep pushing the pace. Trying to keep up with them has been a lot of fun.”

There is still a long way to go for the 26-year-old winger, and his willingness to stick around the danger areas on Monday night was a welcomed one for a Bruins team that needs his 6-foot-6 body in front of the net. Hayes paid the price with stitches and a fat lip after taking a Dalton Prout high-stick to the mouth in front of the Columbus net that went uncalled on a Bruins PP at the end of the second period.

That’s all part of the big man’s game on the ice, however. It’s also the kind of battle and determined fight that Hayes will need to show much more consistently in his second season with the hometown Bruins if he’s truly looking to bounce-back from last year’s mediocre performance.