Pedroia finishes what Saltalamacchia starts in 7th inning

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Pedroia finishes what Saltalamacchia starts in 7th inning

BOSTON -- The difference in Tuesday night's 5-1 Red Sox win over the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park came with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.

The rally started with Jarrod Saltalamacchia. And it ended with Dustin Pedroia.

With two outs in the seventh, the Red Sox trailed 1-0 and had only three hits against the Blue Jays.

Then Saltalamacchia ripped a 1-0 fastball the other way, off Jason Frasor, and it ended up in the Monster Seats, tying the game at 1-1.

"He's playing a confident brand of baseball, because he believes in himself," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine after the win. "And he's a talented player. I haven't seen him get down on himself -- I just told him during the game -- I haven't seen him get down on a pitcher. Some things that might have haunted his past, seem to be gone. And he's just playing the game of baseball. He looks good doing it."

It was the beginning of a two-out rally that helped the Red Sox to their eighth win in the last 10 games. The finishing touches of that rally came four batters later, when Pedroia broke a 1-1 tie by ripping an 0-1 sinker -- with bases loaded -- up the middle that scored the eventual game-winning runs, and gave Boston a 3-1 lead after seven innings.

"I think it means a lot, the way we did it," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine after the win. "With Dustin getting the two RBI's with the bases loaded. It seems like it's been so long since he's been in that opportunity late in the game, where he could win the game. And it presented itself, and he drove the runs in. That really gives us strength."

Since returning from a thumb injury for which he was given a day off last Friday, Pedroia seems to be getting back to his usual self.

"Obviously in baseball there's times when you're going to come through and there's times when you're not going to come through," said Pedroia afterwards. "When I dont, I dont get too upset. When I do, I dont get too happy."

Pedroia's teammates were pleased to see him come through in the clutch once again.

"Dustin, you know when he comes to the plate, he can do some damage," said Red Sox shortstop Mike Aviles. "He's shown that over the course of his career. And it just so happens, this year we have a lot of guys doing it as well. So i think every night you never know who's going to be the hero. And that makes the game intriguing for us. You never know who's going to be that guy that's going to step up and get the big hit. We know Pedey's done it so many times. And he's going to do it a lot more times from now until the end of the year. So is Papi, so is Gonzo. I mean, it just makes it fun."

Saltalamacchia and Pedroia weren't the only ones doing all the work in that seventh-inning rally that won the Red Sox Tuesday night's game. After Saltalamacchia's solo home run that tied it up, both Ryan Kalish and Daniel Nava pinch hit with two outs.

Kalish -- the lefty -- kept the rally alive with a double to right field on an 0-2 slider -- against the left-handed Luis Perez.

"I told Kalish before the game, when he wasn't playing, that he's saves all his hits for the big opportunities," said Valentine. "So when the inning started, I lined him up that way. Of course, with two outs, I'm also thinking that Daniel Nava's going to be able to lead off the next inning, if Kalish makes an out. So it's not like I was praying for it. But, I wasn't afraid."

Kalish doubled, and then the pinch-hitting Nava was hit by a pitch. Then they loaded the bases after a Mike Aviles walk.

"Kalish battling with two strikes against a left-hander in a pinch-hit opportunity, and he got a double," said Valentine. "Those are big plays.

"Mike Aviles' at-bat to walk, to get Dustin up to the plate, is a big play," he added. "It's not one of his forte's, in case you haven't noticed."

"It was pretty fun," said Aviles. "I was looking for a pitch, something that I could drive into the outfield. And I took two terrible swings. I just told myself that, make sure his sinker starts at the belt, because anything below the belt, it was just going to fall down."

After falling behind 1-2, Aviles took three-straight balls to set Pedroia up for the clutch hit.

The Red Sox added two more in the eighth on an Adrian Gonzalez RBI double and a Will Middlebrooks RBI sac fly, but the seventh inning battle with two outs will be what stands out on this night.

"Everyone stepped in and played great," said Pedroia. "Weve had some injuries but guys have stepped in and theyre producing like the guys that got hurt. So its big for us."

Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

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Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

Three Things we learned from the Boston Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins:

1) It only seems like David Ortiz can come through every time.

When Ortiz comes to the plate as he did Friday night -- bases loaded, no out, bottom of the ninth, Red Sox trailing by a run -- it seems like a win is a fait accompli.

"I think everybody in the ballpark just assumed this one might have a chance to be ended right there,'' said John Farrell. "He's been so big for us that everybody in the dugout felt the same way -- confident that the stage was set for him to come through with another dramatic moment.''

Instead, Ortiz rolled over a ground ball to second, and with the Twins infield drawn in, it was enough to turn a 4-2-3 double play that took the starch out of the inning for the Sox.

If anything, though, the inning revealed how remarkable Ortiz has been so often. It's not easy to come through even most times, and it's certainly far from automatic.

"The pitcher (closer Brandon Kintzler) made good pitches,'' said Ortiz. "That's the name of the game. I'm always looking forward to something happening. It just doesn't work out all the time.''

2) Eduardo Rodriguez has his slider back.

When Rodriguez endured a rough stretch in late May and June, he seemed to all but abandon his slider, relying almost exclusively on his two-seam fastball and changeup.

But since returning from a stint in Pawtucket, Rodriguez has flashed the slider that made him so effective as a rookie last season.

"Since he's come back,'' said Farrell, "he's added much more depth. He's able to get to the back foot of some righthanders for some swing-and-miss. He was on the plate with three quality pitches for strikes tonight.''

"I feel like I can locate it better, where I want it,'' confirmed Rodriguez. "Outside, inside corner...I'm getting more confident in it. I think I got out of my mind the tipping (pitches) stuff and all that stuff and I'm just working to throw the ball right where I want it.''

It's almost impossible for a starter in the big leagues to survive with just two pitches, as Rodriguez was attempting to do earlier this season. And it seems foolish to even try, given that Rodriguez's slider can be a plus-pitch for him at times.

3) If Mookie Betts has to miss some time, the Red Sox have options in right field.

Farrell said Betts has been dealing with soreness and stiffness in his right knee since after the All-Star break and has been undergoing treatment.

There's no evidence that this is serious, and he's considered day-to-day. But even if Betts needs some time off, or in a worse-case scenario, has to go on the DL, the Sox can do some things with their outfield.

Michael Martinez's best outfield position is right, as he demonstrated Friday night after taking over for Betts in the top of the fifth. Martinez ran a long way to grab a ball in foul territory for the final out in the sixth, then turned in a fine, tumbling catch in the eighth to take extra bases away from Adam Grossman.

Bryce Brentz, who's been in a platoon of sorts in left with Brock Holt, has played a lot of right field in the minors and has the arm strength to play there.

Finally, there's the matter of Andrew Benintendi. The Sox raised some eyebrows with the news that they were having Benintendi move over to left field at Double A Portland, perhaps in anticipation of playing the position for Boston at some point later this year.

Benintendi is a natural center fielder and even though he doesn't much experience in right, if you're athletic enough to play center, you can usually move to either corner spot.

Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

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Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Boston Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins:

QUOTES:

"I think everybody in the ballpark just assumed this one had a chance to be ended right there.'' - John Farrell on David Ortiz's at-bat with no out and the bases loaded in the ninth inning.

"I feel like I can locate it better - outside, inside corner -- so it's given me more confidence.'' - Eduardo Rodriguez on the improvement with his slider.

"I always look forward to something (good) happening; it just doesn't work out all the time.'' - David Ortiz on his ninth-inning at-bat.

NOTES:

* The Red Sox saw a seven-game winning streak at Fenway -- their longest of the season -- snapped.

* Boston has homered in 13 consecutive games.

* The Red Sox bullpen has posted a 1.17 ERA since July 6.

* Mookie Betts became the first Red Sox hitter to hit 20 homers in a season before he turns 24 since Nomar Garciaparra.

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base in 30 straight games.

* The eight strikeouts posted by Eduardo Rodriguez were a season high and one shy of his career high.

* The loss was only the 15th this season in games in which the Red Sox score first.

* Rodriguez has not allowed an opposing baserunner to steal a base since July 5, 2015.

STARS:

1) Kyle Gibson

Don't let the 5.12 ERA he had coming in fool you. Gibson worked out a little jam in the first, then completely shut the Red Sox down the rest of the way, allowing just one hit and one walk after the first.

2) Brian Dozier

Dozier homered in the second to tie the game, singled in the fourth, walked in the sixth and singled again in the eighth -- reaching base in all four plate appearances.

3) Miguel Sano

Sano invited trouble when he dropped a routine pop-up to allow the Red Sox to put the potential tying run on base in the eighth. But he had three base hits on the night, including a run-scoring double that put the Twins ahead to stay in the sixth.

Sean McAdam can be followed on Twitter: @Sean_McAdam