Uehara blows save, bounces back to get win

Uehara blows save, bounces back to get win
June 22, 2014, 9:30 pm
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OAKLAND -- It had to happen eventually, of course. It's just that when it did, the timing couldn't have been any worse.

Closer Koji Uehara had converted each one of his 15 save chances this season, many with a startling efficiency that other closers could only  dream about.

Saturday was the one-year anniversary of Uehara being named closer by the Red Sox, and in that span, he had converted 42-of-44 opportunities, a success rate as good as any in recent history.

But despite appearances, Uehara isn't perfect. That was evident in the ninth inning Sunday, when, with the Sox clinging to a 6-4 lead, Uehara gave up a solo homer to Stephen Vogt to bring the A's a run closer, and one out later a game-tying homer to pinch-hitter John Jaso.

Not since 2010 had Uehara given up two homers in the same game. And because the Sox were three outs away from getting out of O.co Coliseum with one win and a smidgen of dignity intact, it was that much tougher to take.

Fortunately for Uehara and the rest of the Red Sox, David Ortiz got the final word, bashing a solo homer in the top of the 10th to restore the lead, and eventually, a 7-6 win.

And it says all you need to know about the trust the Red Sox have in Uehara that, after Ortiz put them up again, John Farrell didn't hesitate to send him back out for a second chance at nailing down the save.

"Once David hit the ball out of the ballpark,'' said Farrell, "there was no consideration of going elsewhere. He had thrown 12 pitches. He was rested. (On Saturday, he threw just one pitch after two days down. He was capable of more than an inning today.''

Given a fresh start, Uehara was more himself, getting a pop-up, a strikeout and groundout in quick succession to lock it down.

"It was just better execution in the second inning of work,'' said Farrell.

But it was also necessary for Uehara to put behind him what had happened in the previous inning.

"It was easier for me,'' said Uehara. "It would have been difficult for me if it was still a tie going back (out for the 10th). But I was able to mentally get prepared to go out there because of that.''