Gonzalez saves his best for last

191542.jpg

Gonzalez saves his best for last

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- You could make the argument that the Red Sox five-run sixth was the most important inning of Monday nights 8-7 win over theBaltimore Orioles. It cut Baltimores lead from 6-0 to 6-5 in the blink of aneye.

But as crucial as Jed Lowries RBI double, Jason VariteksRBI single, Adrian Gonzalez RBI single, and Kevin Youkilis two-run doublewere, when it was over the Red Sox still trailed.

They were even losing after Variteks RBI single in theseventh inning, which cut Baltimores lead to 7-6.

Through 8 12 innings, the Sox had stranded 15 baserunners, were 5-for-22 with runners in scoring position, and were three outs from defeat.

They needed a hero.

Enter Adrian Gonzalez.

Boston's newest baseball king stepped to the plate against Orioles closer Kevin Gregg -- who had just walked Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia -- with runners at first and second and one out in the bottom of the ninth. And he used his picture-perfect inside-out stroke, which had helped produce five home runs in the four games prior to Monday night, to blast a first-pitch slider off the wall in left, driving in both runners and giving the Red Sox an improbable, come-from-behind 8-7 victory.

I was just looking for a fastball middle away and tried tostay behind it, said Gonzalez, who had his team-leading sixth three-hit game of the season (3-for-5), with a double, a walk, a run scored and three RBI. He ended up throwing a slider that was kind ofone of those get-me-over sliders, and I was able to put a good swing on it.

It was Gonzalez fifth-career walkoff hit, and hisfirst as a member of the Red Sox. He now has 37 RBI in 41 games, and the last two couldnthave come at a better time.

It was one of those games where it came off slow, especiallywith Daisuke Matsuzaka getting hit, said Gonzalez. It kind of slowed thepace down, and especially after coming in late last night after the Sunday night game in New York, it kind of took alittle bit for us to get going.

I actually thought we deserved to win that game, said manager Terry Francona. We battled back. We had some really good at-bats. We werent rewarded for all of them. And we kept battling, and something good happened. A tough game to win . . .

Theres something to be said for just continuing to play, added Francona, referring to the fact that the Sox trailed 6-0 in the sixth. And we got to hit last, and we had a really good hitter at theplate.

That they did.

Danny Picard is on twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

Pedroia leads Red Sox to 11th win in a row, 3-2 over Rays in 10

red_sox_rays_pedroia_092516.jpg

Pedroia leads Red Sox to 11th win in a row, 3-2 over Rays in 10

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Dustin Pedroia used nifty baserunning to score from first base on David Ortiz's double in the 10th inning and the AL East-leading Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 on Sunday for their 11th consecutive win.

Pedroia singled off Eddie Gamboa (0-1) to start the inning. The relay throw on Ortiz's hit to right center beat Pedroia to plate but he avoided Luke Maile's first tag. Pedroia's momentum carried him past the plate and when he went back to touch it, Maile was charged with an error when the ball dropped out his glove on another tag try.

Pedroia hit a solo homer and Mookie Betts extended his hitting streak to 11 games with an RBI single for the Red Sox, who secured at least an AL wild-card spot Saturday night. Boston's magic number to clinch the division title dropped to two.

Joe Kelly (4-0) went 2 2/3 scoreless innings for the win.

Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out a career-high 13 in 5 1/3 innings. The left-hander and Heath Hembree combined to strikeout 11 consecutive batters to establish a major league-record. The New York Mets held the previous mark when Tom Seaver struck out 10 in a row against San Diego on Apr. 22, 1970.

Boston also set a club record by striking out 21 through nine. Kelly added two more in the 10th.

There was a moment of silence before the game for Miami pitcher Jose Fernandez, who was killed in a boating accident early Sunday. Fernandez played high school baseball in nearby Tampa, Florida after defecting from Cuba.

The Rays planned to honor Ortiz before his final game at Tropicana Field but canceled the ceremony at Ortiz's request after Fernandez's death. He had three hits in five at-bats and moved past Frank Thomas for 107th place on the career list with 2,469 hits.

Ortiz has 35 homers and 90 RBIs at Tropicana Field, which is the most of any visiting player. Alex Rodriguez is next with 30 homers and 73 RBIs.

HONORING BIG PAPI

Rays 3B Evan Longoria and RHP Chris Archer informally presented Ortiz with an oil painting of his 500th home run, which he hit at Tropicana Field last season. Ortiz was also given 34 special handmade Diamond Crown Maximus cigars and $5,000 donations in his name to the Miracle League of St. Petersburg, Florida and the University of South Florida Latino scholarship program.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: Ortiz will play at Yankee Stadium for the final time during a three-game series against New York that starts Tuesday night. "Playing baseball in New York is something that is very special," Ortiz said. LHP David Price (17-8) will start for the Red Sox Tuesday night.

Rays: LHP Drew Smyly (7-11) will face White Sox RHP James Shields (3-11) Monday night in the first of four games in Chicago.

© 2016 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.