By Sean McAdam
NEW YORK -- It wasn't a called shot. More like a called approach that resulted in a shot.
Adrian Gonzalez had had three rough at-bats against CC Sabathia Saturday night. He chased a pitch out of the zone for strike three in the first, then broke his bat grounding out weakly to first, then hit into a double-play.
Something had to change.
"He said 'I'm going to give it a little Ichiro and leak a little bit,'" recounted Terry Francona. "He said, 'Do you have a problem with that?' I said, 'Not if you get a hit.'"
"I was just trying to get ready early and clear the inside part of the plate,'' said Gonzalez. "I didn't predict anything. All I said I was going to hit like Ichiro. He had struck me out with a fastball in and broke two bats with two-seamers in, so I was trying to clear my hips a little bit and cover the inside pitch.''
Sure enough, Gonzalez cleared his hips out and swung as though he was wielding a tennis racket. The result? The ball landed in the right field seats for his fifth homer in the last four games and eighth in his last 11 games.
"He amazes me,'' gushed Francona. "When you say you're going to do it, and then you do it... that's pretty impressive. He's really good and he's intelligent.''
This stretch marks the fourth time in his career that Gonzalez has homered in at least four straight games. He did it twice in 2009 and once in 2010.
In addtion to handling Josh Beckett's superb start, Jason Varitek had two big at-bats at the plate.
In the fifth, with runners and first and second and one out, he drew a walk in a long at-bat. The walk pushed the baserunners over to second and third, from where they scored on Jacoby Ellsbury's double to left.
"That's why you grind them out,'' said Francona. "You never know what's going to happen.''
Then, in the seventh, with the Sox still clinging to a 2-0 lead, Varitek lashed a line single to right, scoring Mike Cameron from second.
"I'm just trying to go about my work and have good at-bats every day,'' said Varitek.
It was just his third RBI of the season, but it was huge.
And it got bigger when Gonzalez later added his three-run homer in the same inning.
"He had some real quality at-bats against CC,'' said Gonzalez. "They were huge for us. That base hit was really big. It opened it up to 3-0 and gave us a little breathing room.''
Kevin Youkilis came out of the game in the bottom of the ninth, with his hip stiff. The hip has been plaguing Youkilis some for the last two weeks and when he dove in the Friday night series opener, it became sore.
Throughout the course of the night Saturday, it got tighter.
"If we get him out of there, I don't think it's anything that will keep him out tomorrow,'' said Francona.