By Art Martone
BOSTON -- For six games, they were they gang that couldn't shoot straight. On the rare occasions when they hit, they couldn't pitch. When they pitched, they couldn't hit. Bad defense? Boneheaded plays? Check, and check.
Then they came home. And everything changed.
Oh, they still had some pitching problems -- John Lackey's six-runs-allowed-in-five-innings performance was a blast from the (recent) past -- but the Red Sox had little else to complain about in Friday's 9-6 victory over the Yankees in the Fenway Park opener.
They got four shutout relief innings from Alfredo Aceves, Bobby Jenks, Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon. After going 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position on Wednesday and Thursday in Cleveland, they went 6-for-9 on Friday . . . and most of the damage came with two outs. Dustin Pedroia led the 12-hit attach with a home run and two singles, and Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz, J.D. Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia also had multihit games.
And when it was over, they were off the schneid. The Sox beat out the Rays in the race to avoid being baseball's last winless team.
The Sox' fortunes turned in the bottom of the second inning. The Yankees were holding a 3-2 lead when Pedroia came to bat with one run in, runners at second and third, and two out. It's the sort of situation the Sox had been squandering through the first six games, but Pedroia ripped a single to center, driving in Jacoby Ellsbury and Marco Scutaro and giving Boston a 4-3 lead.
It didn't stop there. They added two tack-on runs on RBI singles from Gonzalez and Ortiz, making it 6-3.
Lackey gave the lead back one run at a time, with the Yankees finally tying it on a home run by Alex Rodriguez in the fifth inning. But a two-out, RBI double in the bottom of the inning by Jarrod Saltalamacchia put the Sox ahead to stay, and Drew's two-run single in the eighth gave them breathing room.
Aceves, Jenks, Bard and Papelbon combined for four innings of one-hit, scoreless relief, with two walks and five strikeouts.
Art Martone can be reached at email@example.com.