Red Sox notes: Hitters catching fire

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Red Sox notes: Hitters catching fire

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- It isn't just the starting pitchers who are beginning to turn things around.

Some of the slumping hitters in the lineup are starting to enjoy some success, too.

In the Red Sox' 5-0 shutout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Jason Varitek, Carl Crawford, Kevin Youkilis and Jacoby Ellsbury all contributed in significant ways.

Before Saturday's game, Youkilis had the highest batting average of that quartet: a not-so-impressive .218.

-- Varitek came into Saturday with just one hit in 23 at-bats. But in the sixth inning, he drove a double to right, scoring Crawford, snapping a string of 19 hitless at-bats in a row.

"We've been working and I saw the ball a lot better,'' said Varitek. "I had all quality at-bats. The other day, I didn't feel like that. I just continue to get into it and keep working.''

-- Crawford, who was hitting eighth for the first time, had an infield single and an RBI-double for a multi-hit night.

"I'm just trying to keep everything simple,'' said Crawford. "Just see the ball and hit it and not try to overdo anything.''

Crawford hit the ball on the ground and hit his double to the opposite field, both encouraging signs.

"Usually, when I'm going the other way and just going with the pitch,'' Crawford said, "and not pull everything, that's a good sign.''

-- Youkilis, who missed Friday's game after fouling a pitch off his lower left shin Thursday night, returned to the lineup and made his presence felt with a two-run homer to right-center.

Terry Francona has long said that it's a positive when Youkilis is driving the ball to right of center field.

"Anytime you drive the ball the other way and it goes out of the yard, it feels good,'' confirmed Youkilis. "I just haven't been my normal self at the plate. For me, it's just battling and keep going and keep figuring out things and try to put together good at-bats.''

-- Ellsbury, hitting in the leadoff spot for the second straight night, had two singles in four trips with two stolen bases.

"When those guys are on, we're a different team,'' said Francona. "Getting on has been a little tough for us early.''

Daniel Bard pitched a scoreless ninth, his third appearance in the last four games . . . Varitek's RBI was his first since last June 29, 2010. Varitek missed almost two months in the second half of last year with a broken foot, then didn't get an RBI in the final month . . . Ellsbury tied Heinie Wagner on the Red Sox all-time steals list at 141 . . . Matsuzaka became just the third pitcher in Red Sox history to throw back-to-back games of seven or more innings with one hit allowed. The others were Pedro Martinez in 2002 and Howard Ehmke in 1923. The last major leaguer to do it was Vincente Padilla in 2009.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

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