Red Sox continue to write happy endings

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Red Sox continue to write happy endings

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Theres certainly an easier way to win, but in the last three games, the Red Sox have saved their best for last.

Thursday against the Tigers at Fenway Park was no different. The Sox squandered a two-run lead in the eighth inning and needed Carl Crawfords third walk-off hit of the season to secure the 4-3 win.

I think Im glad were playing at home, said manager Terry Francona. Certainly, I know how we feel on the road sometimes. You get in games like this, if theres a mistake or something you go home. Thats the luxury of playing at home. And you can use your closer where you cant normally on the road.

With the Sox leading 3-1 going into the eighth, Daniel Bard gave up back-to-back home runs to Brennan Boesch and Miguel Cabrera, tying the game. It was just the second time in his career Bard has allowed two home runs in one game. The last time was Aug. 9, 2009, also back-to-back numbers to Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira in Yankee Stadium.

That merely set the stage for what is becoming a common scene at Fenway the Sox fourth walk-off win of the season, third in their last four games, and third straight win in their last at-bat.

In the bottom of the ninth, with Al Albuquerque replacing Tigers starter Justin Verlander, Kevin Youkilis led off with an eight-pitch walk. With Jose Iglesias pinch-running, David Ortiz singled to right field, moving Iglesias to third. Albuquerque intentionally walked J.D. Drew to load the bases for Jed Lowrie, who blooped a shot that landed just in front of left fielder Andy Dirks, the ball taking a slight bounce to Dirks right before he could snare it. Dirks came up firing home to catcher Alex Avila, cutting down Iglesias, who was caught at third, waiting to see if the ball would be caught. The result: a rare bases-loaded 7-2 force out.

With the bases still loaded Darnell McDonald in to run for Ortiz at third base Crawford came to the plate. He took Albuquerques third pitch, a 1-1, 93-mph fastball, driving it over the head of Austin Jackson in center field, scoring McDonald with the winning run.

Im just trying to get a pitch to hit, Crawford said. We had bases loaded, not trying to do too much but just make good contact.

You try to narrow your focus. Thats the main thing. Try not to swing at balls. You know hes trying to get you out with his pitches. So you just try to tell yourself to swing at your pitch and try not to go out of the zone.

Although Crawford continues to struggle at the plate -- he went 2-for-4 on Thursday bringing his average up to .212 -- hes been making the most of his ninth-inning plate appearances. Thursdays game-winning hit was his third this season, all in May.

Yeah, its weird, he said. But Ill take whatever I can get right now. So we won and thats the main thing. So Im happy about that.

You always want to get a hit in those situations. You know its going to win the game. Definitely dont want to go to extra innings. So you just try to tell yourself to focus a little harder and hope for the best.

Crawford also had game-winners on May 1 against Seattle and May 9 against Minnesota. The last Sox batter with three or more walk-off hits in a season was Ortiz, with five in 2006.

Yeah, thats got to be good for his confidence, Francona said. Thats a good time to hit. The infields playing in. the outfields playing in, and he stayed on the ball really well. Thats the one think you dont want to do is roll over or pull off and he stayed on it really well.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Pedroia returns to lineup as Sox look to extend winning streak to six

Pedroia returns to lineup as Sox look to extend winning streak to six


After leaving Thursday night's game in the fifth inning and missing Friday night's game, Dustin Pedroia is back in the Red Sox lineup Saturday as they look to extend their winning streak to six in a 4:05 game against the Seattle Mariners.

Pedroia felt pain his left knee Thursday night and was taken out of the game by manager John Farrell as a precaution. The rainy conditions and wet field were also factors in keeping the second baseman out Thursday and Friday. 

Pedroia (.288, two homers, 21 RBI) had surgery on the knee in October. It's the same leg that was hurt when Manny Machado slid into Pedroia at second base in April, the slide that sparked various confrontations between the Orioles and Red Sox.

Left-hander Brian Johnson (1-0, 7.20 ERA) was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket to make his second start of the season for Boston and right-handed reliever Ben Taylor was optioned to the PawSox. Right-hander Rob Whalen, 23,  comes up from Triple-A Tacoma to make his first start of the season for the Mariners. 

The lineups:

MARINERS
Jean Segura SS
Danny Valencia 1B
Robinson Canó 2B
Nelson Cruz DH
Kyle Seager 3B
Taylor Motter LF
Guillermo Heredia RF
Mike Zunino C
Jarrod Dyson CF
---
Rob Whalen RHP

RED SOX
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Andrew Benintendi LF
Hanley Ramirez DH
Mitch Moreland 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Sandy Leon C
Deven Marrero 3B
---
Brian Johnson LHP 

Rodriguez continues strong stretch as Red Sox blank Seattle, 3-0

Rodriguez continues strong stretch as Red Sox blank Seattle, 3-0

BOSTON -- The Red Sox scored runs in bunches in tallying four consecutive victories. They leaned on pitching and defense to earn their latest.

Eduardo Rodriguez pitched six scoreless innings and the Red Sox took advantage of a sloppy performance by the Seattle Mariners for their season-high fifth straight win, 3-0 on Friday night.

It was the third win in a row for Rodriguez (4-1), who gave up just five hits and struck out four while throwing a season-high 112 pitches. Craig Kimbrel earned his 13th save.

"I just go out there and pitch," Rodriguez said. "I'm never really thinking about numbers. I just go out there and throw my pitches and do the best I can do."

That effort is producing one of the best stretches of his three-year career.

Rodriguez has pitched at least six innings in his last seven starts, going 4-0 in that span. He hasn't allowed a run in 10 innings and only 11 runs in his last 49 1/3 innings. His ERA is just 2.01 over that same period.

"He was amazing," Jackie Bradley Jr. said. "Put zeroes on the board all night long. And he made the big pitch when he needed to."

The only run support Rodriguez needed came in the second inning, when Hanley Ramirez scored on Josh Rutledge's RBI groundout. Boston added two more runs in the sixth, scoring on a wild pitch and passed ball.

Manager John Farrell said his 24-year-old pitcher is in a "very good place" right now.

"He was powerful tonight," he said. "It's just a matter of his abilities coming together. This has always been an extremely talented young guy. We've talked about his maturity, we've talked about his progression. It's been on display here for a good number of starts consecutively."

Yovani Gallardo (2-5) took the loss. He lasted 5 1/3 innings, gave up seven hits and was responsible for all three of Boston's runs.

"The whole night obviously wasn't consistent," he said.

Seattle has won just one of its last seven.

Meanwhile, Boston gave Rodriguez got lots of help defensively. Bradley had a pair of nice plays, getting an outfield assist in the second and running down another ball on the warning track in the sixth.

In addition to the pitching miscues, the Mariners had all kinds of issues in the wet conditions, committing two fielding errors.

The Red Sox left 11 runners on base, leaving the door open for the Mariners to get back in the game. But Seattle couldn't capitalize, going 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position. The Mariners also left seven runners stranded.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: LHP James Paxton (strained left forearm) was slated to make a rehab start Friday night in Double-A Arkansas. He has been on the 10-day disabled list since May 5. He could be activated for a start at the end of the month against Colorado.

Red Sox: Infielder Marco Hernandez will be out the remainder of the season after undergoing stabilization surgery on his left shoulder on Friday. Hernandez was placed on the disabled list May 4 with a left shoulder misalignment. The 24-year-old hit .276 with two RBIs in 21 games. ... A night after he left the game with left knee pain, 2B Dustin Pedroia was held out Friday for what Farrell said was "precautionary reasons" because of the wet playing surface.

MISSING: OFFENSE

Mariners manager Scott Servais said they are doing everything they can to find production from an offense that has gone missing.

"Offensively, we struggled to put innings together. That's kind of been the story here for the last week or so, we just haven't gotten the line moving at all, for whatever reason," he said. "Guys are frustrated by it, we all are. We know we're better than that, offensively. It's not happening right now."

Seattle was held scoreless for the fourth time this season.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP Rob Whalen (0-2, 4.09 ERA in Triple-A Tacoma) will be making his first major league start since last season with Atlanta. He will be 12th different starting pitcher the Mariners have used this season.

Red Sox: LHP Brian Johnson (1-0, 7.20 ERA) will be making his second major league start this year and third of his career.