This time it’s Sox who steal a win from Orioles
BALTIMORE - The word came up again and again: character. Jason Varitek and Josh Beckett both used it, describing the way the Red Sox had come back yesterday, the way they had not given up, the way working a walk had led to a home run, and the way it had spiraled from there. Like the night before, only this time spiraling the Sox’ way, yet in a way they couldn’t have expected.
“That was a good character win for us,’’ Beckett said. “I wish I could say I had a lot to do with it.’’
“It was a big character win for us,’’ Varitek echoed.
Beckett had a lot to do with putting the Sox in the position they found themselves heading into the ninth inning. One day after the team had left shards of dignity on the field at Camden Yards, their best-in-baseball bullpen obliterated by 10 runs in two innings, the Sox were down by four runs with three outs to go.
But Dustin Pedroia worked a walk. And, as Orioles manager Dave Trembley said afterward, “If you’re going to walk people, it’s not the time to do it in the ninth inning.’’
“This is not a team that is going to roll over,’’ Julio Lugo said. “We never roll over. They’ve got to get 27 outs.’’
It spiraled, spurred on by an energizing two-run home run by Kevin Youkilis, and ended two innings later on a redemptive single by Lugo that capped off a 6-5 triumph in 11 innings that turned the night before on its head, turned the series around, and left the Sox with a celebration for the plane ride home.
“It was huge. After last night’s loss, we definitely wanted to bounce back,’’ Pedroia said. “It’s just one out of 162, it’s not like it’s the end of the world. Obviously, we play to win. We want to win every inning, we want to win every game. We just kept grinding. That’s why you play nine innings.
“We’re never going to quit. We have baseball players. We’re going to go out and play as hard as we can. We’ll try to win every game. We don’t care about anything else but winning.’’
Or, as manager Terry Francona said, “We needed to move on from last night. The easiest way to move on is to win.’’
Beckett was turning subpar feel and a flat fastball into five runs for the opposition, with one in the first, one in the second when Luke Scott blasted the first pitch of the inning out to left-center, two in the third, and one more on a leadoff homer (by Ty Wigginton) in the fourth. But Beckett settled himself, pitching three more innings, all 1-2-3, to keep the deficit at four runs.
Orioles starter Brad Bergesen, meanwhile, did all he could, going eight innings and holding the Sox to a run on four hits. After that run scored, he retired 11 consecutive batters. But after 103 pitches, Trembley turned to Jim Johnson. He wasn’t as effective, by a long shot. Pedroia opened the ninth with that walk, followed by the two-run homer.
“Pedey has a good at-bat, draws a walk,’’ Varitek said. “Youk hits a homer, and that kind of woke us up a bit after a well-pitched ballgame by them where they jumped on us early. It was huge. It’s a big contribution from people.’’
Lots of people. Like, say, Rocco Baldelli and Lugo. With the Sox down, 5-3, Jason Bay (swinging) and David Ortiz (looking) were caught on curveballs by closer George Sherrill, the strikeout marking the fourth in what would be a 5-K day for Bay. Two outs, ninth inning.
No problem. Jacoby Ellsbury singled to center field and Jeff Bailey and Varitek followed with walks. The bases were loaded for Baldelli, who sent a ball past shortstop Robert Andino and into center. Ellsbury and Bailey came home. Game tied.
“There’s nothing better than getting inserted into the game with the bases loaded,’’ Baldelli said. “You can’t ask for much more than that.
“I was just looking for something out over the plate, and I got two breaking balls to start the at-bat. It wasn’t something I wanted to do early in the count, swinging at offspeed pitches. So, I got a fastball. It got in on me a little bit, and I just tried to stay inside it. That was it.’’
Well, not really. Daniel Bard looked overpowering with four strikeouts in the eighth and ninth, and an excellent sliding catch by Bay in left ended the ninth.
That brought on extras, in which the Orioles could do nothing. The Red Sox? How about a little payback?
“I just wanted to drive the run in somehow, with a fly ball or a hit right there,’’ Lugo said. “You just want to come through.’’
And he did. After Ellsbury led off the 11th inning with a double off Danys Baez and advanced to third on a fly to right, Lugo came up with a chance to give the Sox the lead. He singled. Ellsbury scored. The Sox were up.
Jonathan Papelbon pitched a clean 11th inning for his 20th save of the season and the 133d of his career, breaking the Sox’ record.
“As miserable as last night was, we feel good because [Beckett’s] out there,’’ Francona said, after the Sox won their seventh straight road series. “He gives up runs early. To his credit, he doesn’t just buckle under, but he gives us a few scoreless himself. Then our bullpen was as good as you can be. On the road, in extra innings, somebody makes a mistake, you lose. Nobody makes a mistake.’’
Except the Orioles. So, did yesterday’s game make up for Tuesday night’s debacle?
“Kind of,’’ Pedroia said. “We’re even now.’’