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Red Sox 4, Pirates 2

Momentum swing

Red Sox snap four-game skid in series finale

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / June 27, 2011

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PITTSBURGH — The Red Sox lose the designated hitter when they play in National League parks, a quirk in the rules that leaves David Ortiz with little to do other than watch his teammates until an opportunity arises to pinch hit.

The Sox could use Ortiz at first base, but that’s where the wondrous Adrian Gonzalez plays. What about the outfield?

“No, no,’’ Ortiz said yesterday before the Red Sox played the Pittsburgh Pirates. “I did that once when I was 16. I tried shagging balls the other day and one almost hit me in the head.’’

The wait ended for Ortiz in the seventh inning yesterday and the big man proved that even he could play National League-style baseball effectively.

Ortiz helped fuel a two-run rally with daring base running as the Sox beat the Pirates, 4-2, to snap a four-game losing streak.

“We persevered,’’ Sox manager Terry Francona said after a game that featured six errors and assorted other mistakes. “We didn’t knock the ball all over the ballpark, but we grinded one out.’’

It was 2-2 when Marco Scutaro drew a walk to start the seventh inning. Francona then went to Ortiz. Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle countered by bringing in lefthander Daniel Moskos, but Ortiz drew a walk.

“That’s what I’ve been doing all year, trying to be patient,’’ Ortiz said. “I know it’s hard right now that you’re not getting four at-bats. It’s a situation where you have to try your best.’’

Jacoby Ellsbury put down a bunt and reached first when Moskos misplayed the ball.

With the bases loaded and Chris Resop pitching, Dustin Pedroia grounded slowly to shortstop to drive in Scutaro as Ortiz advanced to third. The Pirates intentionally walked Gonzalez to bring up Kevin Youkilis.

His fly ball to right field was not deep, but Ortiz tagged up.

“I was going with everything I’ve got,’’ he said.

Right fielder Garrett Jones made an accurate throw. Ortiz didn’t slide as much as lunge at the plate with his right foot, while shoving catcher Eric Fryer out of the way with his left shoulder. The tag was late and the Sox had a two-run lead.

“You know what? He did pretty good,’’ Francona said. “Big fella got the legs moving. I don’t know about that slide. It looked like a car accident.’’

Said Ortiz: “It wasn’t that bad. That’s what I would say.’’

Fryer, who was playing in his first major league game, ended up on his backside.

“He took it like a man,’’ Ortiz said.

The two runs gave the victory to Andrew Miller. The lefthander went six innings in his second start, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits and two walks. He struck out four.

“I thought it was really encouraging. I was really pleased,’’ Francona said.

That the Sox were trying to avoid a sweep before a day off and then the start of a three-game series against the Phillies did not enter Miller’s mind.

“I want to go out there and do the same thing regardless of what has happened the previous game, or four games or 10 games,’’ he said. “Whatever it is, I want to keep to my routine and pitch deep into the game.’’

Once the Sox had the lead, Francona went to Alfredo Aceves, Daniel Bard, and Jonathan Papelbon for the final three innings. They were a batter shy of perfection as Papelbon walked Ronny Cedeno to start the ninth before picking up his 14th save.

“Our bullpen came in and did a tremendous job,’’ Francona said.

It was just the third appearance for Papelbon in 16 days.

“I know it’s been kind of a rough ride, not only for myself but for Bard and the other guys,’’ Papelbon said. “For me, today, I had to throttle back a little bit because it’s been a while since I’ve been out there. I had to try to take a little more time.’’

Pittsburgh starter James McDonald did not allow an earned run in six innings.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia doubled in the fourth inning and tagged up on Josh Reddick’s fly ball to center field. The throw from Andrew McCutchen sailed, and when third baseman Chase d’Arnaud tried to flag it down, it ticked off his glove and went into the stands, allowing Saltalamacchia to score.

Youkilis drew a walk in the sixth inning, advanced to third on a throwing error by McDonald, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Reddick.

“We didn’t play well enough to win today and we’ve held ourselves to that standard each and every day we play,’’ Hurdle said. “So when you don’t play well enough to win and you make four errors, those things happen.’’

The Sox also had some issues in the field. One of the runs Miller allowed was aided by an error by Scutaro at shortstop. Reddick dropped a fly ball in the third inning.

“We just needed to find a way to win this game,’’ Papelbon said. “That’s what we did.’’

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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