BOSTON With his three-run, go-ahead home run in the seventh inning, Adrian Gonzalez was destined to be the star of Sundays game.
That was until Sean Rodriguezs two-run, go-ahead home run off Alfredo Aceves in the ninth inning proved to be the game winner, as the Rays beat the Red Sox, 4-3, at Fenway Park.
The home run was Gonzalezs only hit in four at-bats in the game. While it gave him a seven-game hitting streak, a season high, Gonzalez has been mired in a slump for his standards.
Since going 2-for-4 against the Indians on May 13, Gonzalez has had more than one hit in a game just once, on May 20 in Philadelphia.
In 13 games since May 14, Gonzalez is 10-for-49 (.204) with three doubles, two home runs, seven RBI, two walks, and 14 strikeouts.
If I have a good game plan and Im able to execute it, with the swing Ive got I should be able to have success, Gonzalez said. Ive just got to game plan better.
As he did in the seventh. The home run just his fourth of the season and second at Fenway off Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson Sunday, into the first row of seats in the Monsters left field corner could be a sign that he is rebounding.
David Ortiz walked to lead off the seventh with Kevin Youkilis on with a single to set the stage for Gonzalezs home run on a 1-0 changeup.
"That was huge. That was huge, Ortiz said of Gonzalezs home run. Especially against Hellickson. He don't give you anything man. He tries to hit his spot always, otherwise, you've got to chase something out of the strike zone. That's what makes him so good."
Gonzalez entered the game just 2-for-14 (.143) with a home run and four RBI against the Rays starter. Hellickson knew almost immediately Gonzalezs ball was gone.
"I thought I made a pretty good pitch to Gonzalez, but he got it up, Hellickson said. I thought it was gone. He put a good swing on it."
"It was big, Valentine said. It put us ahead. If he gets on a roll, we could let him carry us for a little while. It would be good to see him do that."
Gonzalez started the last two games and six of the last eight games in right field. He entered this season with just three games in the outfield, all in right field. But had appeared in the outfield in an American League park just once prior to 2012 on Sept. 30, 2005, while with Texas against the Angels.
Before the game, Valentine said he had no reservations about putting Gonzalez in right field for an afternoon game.
On Saturday, though, in a bit of a head-scratching move, he took Gonzalez out for pinch-runner Che-Hsuan Lin in the sixth inning of a scoreless game for defensive reasons. In the eighth inning on Sunday, though, Valentine again subbed Lin for Gonzalez. This time, however, Valentine moved Gonzalez to first base, with Kevin Youkilis, who started at first, over to third, and Will Middlebrooks coming out of the game.