Boston Red Sox

Notes: Peace of mind sparks Pedroia's surge

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Notes: Peace of mind sparks Pedroia's surge

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
TORONTO -- Since finding out that nothing is structurally wrong with his right knee, Dustin Pedroia has been a different player.

Pedroia missed the final game of the series in New York to have a scope procedure, and rejoined the club Friday here. He was 3-for-4 with a walk Friday and Saturday, was 3-for-5 with another walk.

In the last two days, Pedroia has bumped his average 16 points from .247 to .263.

Secure in the knowledge that he can't do any more damage to the knee, Pedroia has made some adjustments at the plate the last two days.

Of course, it helped that, as Pedroia disclosed for the first time Saturday, he received a shot of Synvisc, a lubricating gel, for his knee, easing the discomfort he felt from the bruised kneecap.

And knowing that he can put shift some weight to his back (right) knee at the plate has allowed Pedroia to break some bad habits he had developed over the last month.

"I actually feel better,'' said Pedroia. "If I feel better, I can use my back side more and that helps me out a lot because I can get pretty out there on my front stride. This helps me stay back and I'm able to let the ball come to me.''

"We all know Pedey can deal with pain or hurting,'' said Terry Francona. "But I think the idea that he's not hurting himself really cleared his head a lot.''

Exactly a month after he was shelled here for nine runs and later uttered that "everything in my life sucks right now,'' John Lackey returned to the Rogers Centre with a much healthier right elbow and, it would seem, a better frame of mind.

It showed on the mound, too, as Lackey picked up his second win in as many starts since going on the DL with elbow inflammation. He allowed four runs over six innings to improve to 4-5.

"It felt like it was a step forward,'' he said. "I'm still building some arm strength, but the guys swung the bats pretty good and made it pretty easy for me.''

Lackey said his slider is much better since his DL stint.

The runs off him came bunched together, with a two-run double from Rajai Davis in the fourth and a two-run homer from Edward Encarnacion in the sixth, his final inning.

Otherwise, Lackey had a stretch where he retired 10 of 11 hitters so that when the team provided him with run support, he got them back into the dugout quickly to go for some more.

"I'll sit there all day if they want to keep scoring runs,'' said Lackey. "That's not something I'm ever going to complain about.''

He entered the game with a career ERA of 5.07 of Toronto, but made some adjustments Saturday.

"I'm definitely trying to change some patterns and some sequences,'' he acknowledged. "There were definitely some adjustments.''

In a lineup that bashed out 18 hits, shortstop Marco Scutaro -- getting a start with Jed Lowrie shifting to third in place of Kevin Youkilis -- had the most of anyone, recording his first four-hit game of the season.

Scutaro missed several weeks because of a strained oblique, but almost from the beginning of a brief three-game rehab assignment in the minors, has been swinging a strong bat.

"I'm swinging the bat pretty good right now,'' ackmnowledged Scutaro. "Everything's kind of settled down for me. My timing is back. That's pretty much the difference. Even before I got hurt, I was feeling a little better at the plate. You know how hitting is -- sometimes you lose the feeling and it takes a while to get it back.''

"It's huge for us,'' said Francona of the contributions of Scutaro and what it means for depth. "It's hard to go through the whole season and not have guys get nicked up or miss some time. This will really help us.''

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

BASEBALL SHOW PODCAST: What are biggest concerns about Red Sox?

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BASEBALL SHOW PODCAST: What are biggest concerns about Red Sox?

1:00 - Shaughnesy, Drellich and Merloni give their leading off impressions regarding the Red Sox

4:00 - Dan Shaughnessy explains why he is still skeptical about the Red Sox team, and why he will not be able to feel confident until he sees them play in the postseason

9:00 - Does our Baseball Show crew have a problem with the Red Sox letting Chris Sale pitch the 8th inning so he could get his 300th strikeout?

15:00 - Jared Carrabis joins the Baseball Show crew to discuss what matches he likes for the Red Sox in the playoffs. 

17:00 - Jared Carrabis on how would the Red Sox match up against the Yankees in the playoffs

20:00 - How does Jared Carrabis think about the use of David Price as a relief pitcher?

Red Sox beat Reds 5-4, reduce A.L. East magic number to three

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Red Sox beat Reds 5-4, reduce A.L. East magic number to three

CINCINNATI -- Mookie Betts wasn't about to stop. Neither are the Red Sox, who are heading home with a chance to win another division title.

Betts doubled with the bases loaded to tie it in the eighth inning and dashed home from second base on an infield single, rallying the Red Sox to a 5-4 victory Sunday that moved them closer to an AL East championship.

By winning 14 of its last 17 games, Boston has left virtually no opening for the second-place New York Yankees to catch up. The Red Sox, already assured a playoff spot, completed an 8-1 road trip that put them in excellent position to win a second consecutive division crown, something they've never done.

Coupled with New York's 9-5 loss in Toronto, the Red Sox reduced their magic number to three. They lead the Yankees by five games with seven to play.

That means Fenway Park can start preparing for a potential celebration. Boston finishes the regular season at home with three games against Toronto and four vs. Houston.

"We're learning a lot about ourselves," said Doug Fister, who pitched into the sixth. "We can put ourselves in a corner early and fight back. If we need a touchdown, the boys can put up a touchdown."

Boston inched closer with more late-game flair. The Red Sox lead the majors with 11 wins when trailing after the seventh inning.

They loaded the bases against Raisel Iglesias (3-3), who had blown only one save chance all season. Betts had fouled a ball off his foot on Friday night and missed one game. His double tied it 5-all, and he sprinted home on the still-sore foot - diving headfirst into the plate - on Rafael Devers' infield single.

"I felt he had a chance to beat it, and with me running it was going to be a tough play at the plate," Betts said.

Robby Scott (2-1) got the win, and Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 35th save in 39 chances. He hasn't allowed a run in his last 11 appearances.

Billy Hamilton helped the Reds go up 4-1. He tripled home a run and brought the crowd to its feet by scoring after getting caught in a rundown between first and second. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia made a wild throw, and Hamilton kept going when nobody covered home.

"In my whole career, that's one of the best ones, especially since I was in a rundown and just trying to get to second base and then I end up scoring," Hamilton said.

GOT THEIR BACKS

Red Sox and Reds players stood for the national anthem. Boston manager John Farrell said if any of his players decide to follow the example of other athletes and make a statement during the anthem, he'll support them. "We strive to create an environment that's inclusive," Farrell said. "We would have their back as an organization if that's the expression they chose. It's their constitutional right."

INTERLEAGUE

The Red Sox are 12-1 against the Reds all-time in the regular season and have won nine straight, their longest winning streak against any NL team since interleague play started in 1997. The Reds beat the Red Sox in seven games for the 1975 World Series championship. Overall, Boston is 16-4 in interleague play this season. The Reds are 5-15.

90 LOSSES AGAIN

The Reds reached the 90-loss mark for the third straight year. They lost 98 games in 2015 and 94 last year. It's the first time they've had three straight 90-loss seasons since 1930-34.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: INF Eduardo Nunez ran the bases before the game, his next step in recovering from a sprained knee.

Reds: Hamilton was back in the lineup after getting a day off. He's played twice since returning from a broken left thumb.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz (16-5) faces Blue Jays LHP Brett Anderson (1-2) on Monday night. Pomeranz is 7-1 with a 2.62 ERA in 13 starts since the All-Star break.

Reds: After a day off, they finish with three games in Milwaukee and three at the Chicago Cubs. Deck McGuire (0-0) makes his first major league start Tuesday night against Zach Davies (17-9).

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