Ciriaco continues to rip through Yankees pitchers

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Ciriaco continues to rip through Yankees pitchers

BOSTON Pedro Ciriaco, Yankee Killer.

Ciriaco cant explain it, but perhaps it defies explanation or analysis. In nine career games against the Yankees, all this season, he is 17-for-35, batting .486, with seven RBI, 11 runs scored, and four stolen bases against the Yankees. Five of his 13 multi-hit games this season have come against the Yankees.

I don't know, he said. I just try and hit the ball and the ball find the hole.

In Tuesdays series-opening win at Fenway Park, Ciriaco went 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored, including the game-winning run. The run gave the Sox just their third walk-off win of the season.

It's a big night for us, for the team, Ciriaco said. We're happy we got the win tonight.

With one out in the ninth, Ciriaco started the game-winning rally with a single to left, taking second on Mike Aviles' single to shortstop. On Jacoby Ellsbury single to right field, Ciriaco raced around third, sliding home with the winning run ahead of the throw from Ichiro Suzuki.

Ill take Ciris speed and the deep right field at Fenway, Ill take Ciris speed any day," Jacoby Ellsbury said. "Hes been playing great for us. Hes been huge all season and there again in the ninth inning getting on. Once he got to second I knew any ball hit in the outfield he was scoring with his speed.

Ciriaco has certainly opened more than a few eyes this season, beginning in spring training. In 56 games with the Sox, he has hit .306, going 11-for-11 in stolen base attempts, with 27 runs scored, a .414 slugging percentage, and .321 on-base percentage, while playing third base, second, shortstop, and all three outfield positions. On Tuesday, at third base, he made a couple of nifty plays to rob the Yankees of hits.

The play he made on the ball down the line I didnt think there was any chance he could make that play and the diving backhanded play and James Loney at first base picking it on the other end, that was a highlight play, said manager Bobby Valentine. Ciriacos played well at third base. For a guy whos never played there before and we didnt know if he could, hes played well. Started double plays and really made that play coming in very well.

Like many of his teammates, Ciriaco had been struggling coming into the game. In eight games in September, he was hitting just .111 going 3-for-27 as his average dropped from .333 to .301.

He was struggling a little bit I heard coming in, said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. But, he hits a ball at his shoe tops to lead off the ninth. I mean he just finds a way against us.

Merloni: ‘Missed opportunities left and right’ for Red Sox

Merloni: ‘Missed opportunities left and right’ for Red Sox

Lou Merloni talks about the Red Sox losing 6 out of the last 7 games and if David Price should have stayed in the game for the 9th inning.

McAdam: Red Sox at a loss after excruciating defeat

McAdam: Red Sox at a loss after excruciating defeat

There are still two full months of games left on the schedule and who knows what might happen in that time, or what else might befall the Red Sox.

But for now, it's no stretch to suggest that Thursday's excruciating 2-1 setback in Anaheim constitutes the worst loss of the season to date. The point hardly seems debatable.

Consider:

THE TIMING: This was the start of the longest, and in many ways, most challenging road trip of the season, with 11 games in 11 days. It comes immediately after a homestand that was highly disappointing, featuring a mere split with the last-place Minnesota Twins and a sweep at the hands of the otherwise mediocre Detroit Tigers.

There's been a great deal of attention focused on how many road games the Sox have to play through the rest of the season. Winning the opener -- and snapping a three-game losing streak in the process - would have felt like a strong statement that the club was ready and able to meet the challenges of the schedule.

THE STARTING PITCHER: The loss wiped out a standout performance by David Price, who may well hold the key to whether the Red Sox grab a playoff spot this fall.

Price has been woefully inconsistent in his first season with the Red Sox, alternating between brief stretches of dominance and periods of underwhelming outings.

For a change Thursday night, Price seemed on the verge of winning one of those "statement'' games, when he would make one measly run in the third inning stand up. There have been too many times, given his standing as the team's No. 1 starter, in which Price has pitched just well enough to lose -- like the pitcher's duels in which he came up short against the likes of Madison Bumgarner and Chris Tillman.

But on Thursday, Price didn't buckle. And never mind that he was matched against an aging and depleted Jered Weaver. Price had next-to-nothing with which to work, but he protected the 1-0 lead with a determination he has seldon shown in Boston.

And for his effort to go wasted sets an inauspicious marker for this demanding trip. There was something symbolic about having Price set the tone at the start with a low-scoring, must-have game.

He did his part. Unfortunately for Price, that wasn't enough.

THE WAY IN WHICH IT HAPPENED: Walk-off losses are never pleasant, whether they come on a homer, or a base hit up the middle.

But considering that the Red Sox had the ability to turn Daniel Nava's tapper to first into a game-ending double play, and instead, saw it result in a two-run throwing error on the part of Hanley Ramirez, makes it all the more crushing.

Brad Ziegler, who gave up a go-ahead game-winning homer in the final game of the homestand Wednesday, essentially did his job in the ninth. He got Mike Trout to hit a chopper, which resulted in an infield single. And he kept the ball on the ground and in the infield, with the Sox bringing the infield in with the bases loaded and one out.

Better execution, and the Red Sox walk away with a thrilling 1-0 victory to begin their West Coast trek. Instead, they walk off the field, heads down, with the wrong precedent being set.