Gonzalez saves his best for last

Gonzalez saves his best for last
May 17, 2011, 5:06 am
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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.