By Maureen Mullen
BOSTON Carl Crawford entered Friday nights game against the As batting just .106 against left-handed pitchers. As reliever lefty Brian Fuentes entered the game allowing lefties a .269 average this season.
With the Red Sox trailing by a run in the seventh inning, bases loaded, two outs, and a 3-2 count, Crawford delivered a 91-mph sinker into center field, scoring Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis, giving the Sox the lead.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia's home run to lead off the eighth, on Michael Wuertzs first pitch of the game, completed the Sox scoring, for an 8-6 win.
It was not an easy win, though, for the Sox, who have struggled through this six-game homestand.
Clay Buchholz lasted just 4 23 innings against the As at Fenway Park Friday night. It was his shortest outing of the season since going just 3 23 innings in an April 9 loss to the Yankees.
He allowed the light-hitting and light-scoring As six runs (five earned) on eight hits with two walks and five strikeouts. The As entered the game 12th in the American League in both team batting average and runs scored. They had 11 total hits against the Red Sox. Their season high is 15.
Buchholz faced eight batters in the first inning, giving up four runs on five hits, matching an Oakland season-high for hits in an inning.
By the third inning, the Sox had taken the lead, 5-4, driving Oakland starter Josh Outman from the game. But Buchholz allowed single runs in the fourth and fifth innings, letting the As get ahead. After Daric Bartons two-out single scored Josh Willingham in the fifth, Buchholz was done.
In three starts since throwing a career-high 127 pitches against the Tigers on May 18, Buchholz has gone a combined 18 innings pitched, giving up 10 earned runs for a 5.00 ERA with three no-decisions, while the Red Sox have gone 2-1 in those games. In the three starts before that, including May 18, he threw a combined 19 innings giving up two earned runs (0.95 ERA). The Sox were 3-0 in those games.
Bobby Jenks got the win, pitching a scoreless seventh, allowing a hit and a walk with one strikeout and a balk. He improves to 2-2 with a 7.59 ERA. Jonathan Papelbon earned his 11th save with a scoreless ninth inning.
Joey Devine, who started the seventh inning before Fuentes entered, was charged with the loss, going two-third of an inning, giving up two runs the first runs he has allowed this season -- on a hit and walk. His record falls to 0-1 with a 2.45 ERA.
Player of the Game: Carl Crawford
His two-run single off Brian Fuentes in the seventh inning, with the Sox trailing by a run, bases loaded, and two outs, gave the Sox the lead. Crawford entered the at-bat hitting .106 against left-handed pitchers this season.
In his career, he was 1-for-5 with two RBI against Fuentes.
Crawford, whose deep drive to right earlier in the game would have been a home run in most parks, entered the at-bat 0-for-3. The go-ahead single was his only hit of the game.
It was his fifth game-winning RBI of the season. In his last nine games he has nine RBI.
Honorable Mention: David Ortiz
Ortiz went 2-for-3 with a run scored, two RBI, and a double. His second RBI of the night tied the game in the third inning, before the As regained the lead.
He has hit safely in 13 of his last 15 games, batting .414 with 14 extra-base hits and 10 multi-hit games in that span.
The Goat: Brian Fuentes
While Joey Devine (0-1, 2.45) was charged with the loss, Fuentes suffered his third blown save. Fuentes is among the league leaders in saves, with 11. While it was a difficult situation in which to enter with the bases loaded, two outs, his team ahead by one tenuous run, facing Carl Crawford, who is still struggling but always dangerous it was a situation his team needed him to handle. He didnt.
Turning Point: Mr. Clutch comes through
It was a struggle for both teams throughout the game. But with the As ahead by one run in the seventh, Joey Devine, who started the inning, got Dustin Pedroia to ground out before allowing the next three batters to reach -- Adrian Gonzalez on a double, hitting Kevin Youkilis with a pitch, and walking David Ortiz before getting Jed Lowrie to fly out. At that point As manager Bob Geren called for his closer, Brian Fuentes, to face Carl Crawford. On a 3-2 pitch, Crawford delivered a single to center field, with Gonzalez and Youkilis scoring, giving the Sox the lead, which they would not relinquish.
By the Numbers: .297
The As entered the game hitting .240, 12th in the American League. Against the Sox Friday night, they went a combined 11-for-37, batting .297. They matched their season-high for hits in an inning with five in the first. The 11 hits, which they compiled through the first six innings, were shy of their season high, 15.
Quote of Note:
Love of the game. I wouldnt have gone through the stuff I went through and kept rolling if I didn't want to be here and have a goal of being a big league pitcher. I think thats what drove me every day.
-Red Sox left-hander Tommy Hottovy -- who made his big league debut Friday, retiring David DeJesus, the only batter he faced -- on what has kept him motivated over the last few years. Hottovy has been in the Sox system since being drafted in 2004, spending parts of the last six seasons in Double-A Portland, and having Tommy John surgery in 2008.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen