OAKLAND -- John Lackey, fresh off another strong start and his fourth win his last five starts, was asked how valuable teammate Dustin Pedroia has been to the Red Sox.
"I'd say he's invaluable,'' said Lackey without hesitation.
If Lackey -- or anyone else -- needed additional evidence, it was on display at O.co Coliseum Friday night during the Red Sox' 4-2 win over the Oalkand A's.
In the field, with one run in, one man out and two runners on base, Pedroia made a sprawling stop of a bullet hit by Josh Donaldson. Pedroia then scrambled to make the throw to shortstop Jose Iglesias who then fired to first to complete the inning-ending double play.
An enthusiastic Pedroia punched the air in celebration as he sprinted off the field, but that may have been a show of relief, too.
"The defensive play was kind of self-defense,'' said Pedroia with a smile. "That ball was hit pretty darn hard. Thank God it landed in my glove, because if it didn't, it probably would have put a hole in my chest.''
After saving at least one run, Pedroia came up in the eighth with Jose Iglesias on third and Shane Victorino on second and two outs. Oakland brought in righthander Ryan Cook to face Pedroia.
"He's tough,'' said Pedroia. "He's got great stuff. His slider's pretty darn good and he throws in the upper 90s. I always hit off the fastball and I just kept my hands back and I was able to hit it on the barrel and it worked out for us.''
Pedroia's line single to left scored both baserunners, giving the Red Sox the winning margin as they stretched their winning streak to four straight.
The only other runs the Sox scored came back in the second when Brock Holt supplied a two-out, two-run single all his own, delivering Mike Napoli and Daniel Nava.
It was Holt's third two-out hit in the last two games. Indeed, the Sox have enjoyed a team-wide run of timely two-out hits: in the last two games, they've scored 13 runs and 11 of them have come after two were out.
"There's no secret,'' said Pedroia of the pattern. "We're just trying to have quality at-bats. Brock's at-bat was huge. (Thursday) we had a bunch. We've just found ways to get that one pitch and make sure we don't miss it.''
"As much as we talked about it earlier in the year when that two-out hit was elusive,'' said manager John Farrell, "we've been fortunate of late. We didn't have a whole lot of opportunities tonight, but timely hitting (was key).''