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On Wednesday night, the Red Sox did the little things right, which is usually all it takes when the big things go your way. A botched pickoff here and fortunate double play there made all the difference for Boston as they beat the Oakland A’s 5-4 to take the series and maintain a one-game lead over the Yankees.
Oakland DH Jack Cust plated Jerry Hairston with a single in the second, and, early on, the Sox never looked like answering. Kevin Youkilis snagged a line drive at third, and alertly pegged to first to double off Mark Ellis in the fourth to keep Boston close. Newly-minted All-Star Tim Wakefield got several clutch strikeouts early to deny Oakland further scoring opportunities.
The Boston bats were quiet early, but they came to life in the decisive sixth inning, as J.D. Drew tied the game with a solo shot to right before David Ortiz scored Pedroia, Youkilis and his own big self with a three-run blast over the bullpens. The Sox would put a key fifth run on the board in the seventh on a fielder’s choice by Ortiz after the A’s had brought it to within one just a half-inning earlier.
Oakland made it even more tense, scoring off Papelbon via a sac fly in the ninth to make it 5-4, but the comeback was not to be. After a shaky start to the ninth, Paps blew Jack Cust away with a fastball inside to earn his 22nd save of the year. Oakland certainly didn’t play like AL West cellar-dwellers, but the Red Sox’ quality pitching and sporadically brilliant bats made the difference as Boston took the series 2-1.
David Ortiz knocked in four of the five Red Sox runs. His three-run shot in the sixth must have felt especially sweet after squandering a similar opportunity a couple innings earlier.
His error, coupled with his 0-4 at the plate is enough to earn him this doubtful distinction. Where’s Jed Lowrie again?
“To save a run there, in the seventh, that’s why he’s an MVP.” — Eleven-game winner Tim Wakefield, referring to Dustin Pedroia’s diving stop.