Defensive gems save Red Sox

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Defensive gems save Red Sox

PHILADELPHIA -- You wouldn't expect a game that featured 12 runs and 26 hits by the two teams to be decided by defense, but the Red Sox' 7-5 win over the Philadelphia Phillies Saturday night quite likely was.

Standout plays seemed to take place almost regularly.

Among them:

Two well-turned double plays by the middle infield combination of shortstop Mike Aviles and second baseman Dustin Pedroia.

In the fifth, with runners on first and second and no out, Hunter Pence hit a ball that Aviles handled on a tough hop, feeding to Pedroia to record two key outs.

In the sixth, with Jon Lester trying to get out of a first-and-second one-out jam, Pedroia took the feed from Aviles and hung in on a tough take-out slide by Phils infielder Freddy Galvis, getting the Sox out of the inning.

"That's part of the job,'' shrugged Pedroia. "I know, in that situation, they're coming in hard and you just try to protect yourself the best you can and stay in there and turn the double play.''

Adrian Gonzalez, shifted to right field for the night to give DH David Ortiz a chance to start at first base, made two fine plays in foul territory.

He tracked down a ball near the line by Ty Wigginton for the first out in the second.

"That was anything but a routine play,'' marveled Bobby Valentine. "A high fly off the left-handed bat. It goes down the line and comes back the way it did.''

But his real shining moment came in the third, with a run in and Shane Victorino at second. Gonzalez sped toward to foul line on a sinking foul ball from Pence, went into a pop-up slide as he crossed into foul territory and was able to come up before colliding with the wall, with little territory with which to work.

"It's one of those things you're going on as you're running,'' said Gonzalez. "You're taking a peak at the ball. You've got one chance to peak at the wall and then get back to the ball because you don't want to lose sight of the ball while you're trying to figure out fence. I
knew that once I stepped on dirt, I had to go for the slide.''

"Adrian's a very good athlete,'' said Valentine. "He plays the game. If he had foot speed he'd be a five-tool player. He understands time and space and has very good athletic ability.''

The play of the game was a diving catch on the warning track in right-center by center fielder Ryan Sweeney, who took away extra bases from Carlos Ruiz with two runners on and one out in the seventh .

"I just thought I could catch it right off the bat,'' said Sweeney. "Adrian was playing pretty far away and he told me anything in the gap, I should catch. So, I did. But I had to run a long way for that ball and to dive on the warning track is never fun.

"I felt like I had a shot at it (the whole way). Once you get closer to the ball, then you kind of know a little bit more. I didn't have to catch it down low; I caught it up higher, then kind of laid out after that.''

Asked to rank the play among the defensive plays he made in his career, Sweeney said: "It's probably up there, probably my Top Five.''

"At first, I thought the ball had (too) much carry to it,'' said Gonzalez, who was backing up the play. "Then, I saw Sweeney and he had a great jump. I saw it the whole way and the only way he could have made it was diving the way he did. He made a great play.''

"I thought it saved the game,'' said Valentine. "That's a highlight reel catch, a Top Tenner. I don't think he had anything left. He gave everything he had, used full extension. He dove and made, I think, a game-saving catch.''

Moreland homers again, Red Sox tag A's to avoid four-game sweep

Moreland homers again, Red Sox tag A's to avoid four-game sweep

OAKLAND, Calif. - A five-run ninth inning for the Red Sox that lasted more than a half-hour derailed any chance Eduardo Rodriguez had of getting his first career complete game.

Not that the left-hander was complaining.

After a bitter loss to Oakland a year ago when he allowed just one hit over eight innings, Rodriguez was more than happy with the way things turned out.

Rodriguez earned his second straight win, Mitch Moreland homered in his third consecutive game and Boston beat the Oakland Athletics 12-3 on Sunday to avoid a four-game sweep.

"I wanted to go back out there but they hit the ball pretty good in that inning and I know I had to get out of the game," Rodriguez said about the long wait. "I'll take it because we score more runs, I have a chance to win. If every inning's like that, I'll get out of the game after five."

Rodriguez (3-1) allowed three runs over eight innings. He struck out eight, walked one and retired 14 of his final 15 batters.

"Where he was with the pitch count, it'd be nice for him to go out there for the ninth inning given where he was and how well he was throwing the baseball," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "But at that point you're up nine, probably about a 35-minute inning, didn't want to take any chances."

Hanley Ramirez and Christian Vazquez had three hits apiece to power a Red Sox lineup that tallied 15 hits. Every player in Boston's starting lineup had at least one hit, and eight of the nine drove in runs.

Chad Pinder homered and drove in two runs for Oakland.

Boston, which hasn't been swept in a four-game series since July 2015, trailed 3-2 before scoring 10 runs over the final five innings.

"It felt we had them on the run a little bit," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "They get the lead and then we come back and take the lead again and you feel pretty good. But they were pretty persistent today."

Pinder went deep in the fourth, his fourth home run in eight games and fifth overall.

The A's committed three errors, giving them a major league-leading 42.

BRADLEY'S DEFENSIVE GEMS

Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts gave the A's trouble with his running and defense. Betts scored twice from first base and also made a pair of strong defensive plays. He made a sliding catch on Mark Canha's sinking liner in the eighth and then slammed into the wall after catching Khris' Davis fly to end the inning.

"This place during the daytime plays very difficult," Farrell said. "What Mookie was able to do a couple times in right field, those aren't easy plays. To be able to stay with it, go up against the wall a couple of times, we played very good outfield defense here today."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: Brock Holt continues to deal with lingering symptoms from vertigo and isn't yet ready to come off the disabled list, according to Farrell. Likewise, Boston plans to keep third baseman Pablo Sandoval in the minors to get consistent at-bats while recovering from a right knee sprain. ... Farrell said LHP Drew Pomeranz, who took the loss Saturday, will start against Texas on Thursday.

Athletics: Yonder Alonso (sore left knee) sat out his fourth straight game but could be back in the lineup Tuesday when Oakland begins a two-game series against Miami. ... Sean Doolittle (strained left shoulder) threw on flat ground before making 15 pitches off the mound. The plan is for the former closer to throw 25 pitches on Wednesday. ... Melvin said the team has applied for an extension on Chris Bassitt's rehab assignment. Bassitt underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello (2-5) faces Texas on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series at Fenway Park. Porcello has lost three of his last four decisions.

Athletics: Following an off day, RHP Jesse Hahn (1-3) starts against Miami on Tuesday at the Coliseum. Hahn leads the majors in fewest home runs allowed per nine innings at 0.19.