Career Night for Dustin Pedroia Helps Sox Avoid Sweep

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Career Night for Dustin Pedroia Helps Sox Avoid Sweep Postgame, Red Sox 13-11: They will be talking about this one for a long time, and when they do the first name in the discussion will be that of Dustin Pedroia.

Pedroia's three home runs and six RBIs completely overshadow a game which saw a little of everything, including another blown save by Jonathan Papelbon.

Most importantly, it gives the Sox a huge win entering a weekend series in San Francisco.

Tim Wakefield opposes Jonathan Sanchez in the opener of that set on Friday night. First pitch is 10:15 p.m.

Final, Red Sox 13-11: That's more like it. Jonathan Papelbon, after blowing two-run leads on successive nights, finally closes the door on the Rockies as the Red Sox avoid a sweep with a wild win.

The debate on Papelbon may continue to rage, but let's take a moment to touch on what Dustin Pedroia just did.

His home run to lead off the fourth pulled the Sox to within 2-1. He walked and scored in the fifth when Boston took a 6-2 lead. After the Rockies scored six to reclaim the lead, Pedroia singled as part of a three-run rally in the seventh that put the Sox ahead 9-8.

One inning later, the second home run of the night came for Pedroia, a two-run blast that made it 11-8.

And finally, after another stunning comeback against Papelbon in the ninth, Pedroia knocks his 12th of the season and third of the night over the wall in left.

During the Red Sox' 8-1 homestand, Pedroia was asked what it felt like to hit a home run after a long drought without one.

"I'm not a home run hitter," he said.

You sure about that, Dustin?

Mid 10th, Red Sox 13-11: A game for the ages for Dustin Pedroia. He, and anyone else watching this, will remember this forever.

Pedroia is 5-for-5 with three home runs and six RBIs. The hits match a career high while the homers and RBIs set new ones for the surging second sacker.

Oh, he also has a walk and has scored four times.

Now, before we run into the street and set off some bottle rockets, or in my case go to bed, we have three more outs to get. Is it possible that Jonathan Papelbon can blow three saves in two games?

1:20 a.m.: This game is nearly five hours old and the Rockies still cannot figure out how to get out Dustin Pedroia. His third home run (yes, third) just put the Sox on top 13-11.

End 9th, 11-11: Well, what can you say? Plenty, I'm sure. Jonathan Papelbon not only blew the save for the second straight night but he nearly served up another game-winning home run. Seth Smith hit a drive the Darnell McDonald caught against the wall in center.

There will be more debate on the Papelbon situation. For now, the Sox have to try to salvage something out of this one.

Boston has only Dustin Richardson left after Papelbon in the bullpen. Bill Hall is also available, and I'm not really saying that to be funny.

12:59 a.m.: As it approaches 1:00 a.m. in the East, Jonathan Papelbon has blown a save for the second consecutive night. He gets the first out in the ninth but three straight singles follow and we are tied.

Mid 9th, Red Sox 11-9: Here comes Jonathan Papelbon, prepared to shut up those who called for his head after a blown save on Wednesday night. He'll be facing the top of the Rockies' order.

End 8th, Red Sox 11-9: A huge strikeout for Daniel Bard, who fans Melvin Mora with two runners in scoring position. We should get to see Jonathan Papelbon take another shot at the Rockies in the ninth.

12:34 a.m.: We've gotten to the point where pitchers are being used as pinch runners. Aaron Cook is running for Jason Giambi, who just pulled the Rockies to within two runs with an RBI single.

12:29 a.m.: With Jason Giambi up representing the tying run and everyone on their feet at Coors Field, Terry Francona will turn to Daniel Bard, the sixth Red Sox pitcher of the night.

Mid 8th, Red Sox 11-8: What a night for Dustin Pedroia. He has four hits in four at bats, two of them home runs, and has thrown in a walk for good measure. Pedroia's two-run blast in the eighth comes after Daniel Nava struck out but reached on a wild pitch.

Pedroia was batting below .250 two weeks ago. With his 11th home run of the season he has moved his average all the way up to .290.

Kevin Youkilis has entered at first base for David Ortiz. Good to see both Youkilis and J.D. Drew get at least some action in this one. You know they are not far from coming back full-time.

End 7th, Red Sox 9-8: Jason Varitek, in addition to giving the Red Sox the tying and go-ahead runs in the top of the seventh, nails his second would-be base stealer of the game to end a strike-em-out, throw-em-out.

Scott Atchison also struck out Carlos Gonzalez and now has seven Ks in four scoreless innings over his last two outings.

This is all set for Jonathan Papelbon to try to rebound from his blown save one night earlier.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 9-8: This might be one of those games where both teams end up in double figures and both bullpens are completely used up. Nobody is getting outs right now. 

An RBI single by Adrian Beltre and a two-run double by Jason Varitek put the Sox right back on top. Quite an answer after the way the bottom of the sixth went.

Beltre is now 3-for-3 with three RBIs and three runs scored. He is hitting .343. If Beltre was playing the Gold Glove defense we expected of him, he would be worth a spot in MVP debates.

11:41 p.m.: Consecutive singles by Daniel Nava and Dustin Pedroia get the Sox going in the seventh. David Ortiz hits into a fielder's choice, leaving runners at the corners and one out for new pitcher Manuel Corpas.

End 6th, Rockies 8-6: Manny Delcarmen and Hideki Okajima give up three runs apiece in the sixth inning, but that barely begins to tell the story.

Delcarmen never recorded an out, to begin with. And while some of the hits against him were a bit soft, Okajima blew a chance to record the third out with the Red Sox still ahead 6-4 when he was achingly slow getting over to cover on a grounder to first.

A run scored on that play to make it 6-5 Boston, two more came in on Ian Stewart's single and then Ramon Ramirez came on to serve up an RBI single to Clint Barmes.

The Red Sox bullpen gave up three runs in 30 innings during the club's 8-1 homestand. It has now surrendered 10 in 4 2/3 innings in this series.

11:25 p.m.: An absolutely disastrous inning is still not over for the Red Sox, who are forced to turn to their third pitcher of the frame after both Manny Delcarmen and Hideki Okajima stink it up. We'll sum up the inning for you in a bit, but just know that the Rockies have scored five times and have the lead again.

11:08 p.m.: Just like that the Rockies have the tying run at the plate in the form of Todd Helton. Manny Delcarmen gives up two hits and a walk without retiring a batter, forcing Terry Francona to call on Hideki Okajima.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 6-2: Terry Francona makes the decision to end Daisuke Matsuzaka's night by sending up J.D. Drew to pinch hit for him in the sixth. That is Drew's first action since he was hurt last Friday.

Manny Delcarmen is the first to arrive from the Red Sox bullpen.

Considering he was coming off the DL and was so shaky in the first inning, you have to consider this a good start for Matsuzaka.

End 5th, Red Sox 6-2: Is it me or do Marco Scutaro and Adrian Beltre seem to always commit errors in the same game. Beltre joins Scutaro in the 'E' column for this one by throwing a ball away in the fifth.

For the second time Daisuke Matsuzaka works around the miscue. His fourth straight scoreless inning ends with his sixth strikeout.

A big moment in this game was when Matsuzaka turned things around in the bottom of the first. Remember, he walked three and gave up two singles in the first five batters of the game. The Sox even had Dustin Richardson up in the pen.

Now here he is with a chance to go six and improve to 6-2. I will never make a Daisuke Matsuzaka prediction again.

10:43 p.m.: Another injury for a Red Sox outfielder? Josh Reddick is taken out one inning after banging his knees hard into the wall in foul territory trying to run down a pop. Darnell McDonald is in right field.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 6-2: Adrian Beltre got his head touched. That can only mean one thing — he hit a homer.

Beltre attempts to fend off those trying to rub his head in the Red Sox dugout after hammering his 11th home run of the season, a two-run shot to left off reliever Franklin Morales.

Incidentally, Victor Martinez and Marco Scutaro got him this time.

The Boston third baseman's average is back up over .340 again. Quite a year he is having.

End 4th, Red Sox 4-2: Nice to see Mike Cameron go all out for a diving catch. Not nice to see a routine grounder go right through Marco Scutaro's legs, the 10th error of the year for the Red Sox shortstop.

Had Cameron not made the catch it could've been a rough inning for Daisuke Matsuzaka. Chris Nelson, hitting for Rockies starter Jason Hammel, singled after the Scutaro error and Todd Helton walked one out later to load the bases.

But Matsuzaka got Carlos Gonzalez to ground to first to end the inning. Scott Atchison was up and warming in the bullpen.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 4-2: As predicted a few posts ago, Jason Hammel's scoreless streak would be snapped against the Red Sox. He was simply in way too many hitters' counts to be successful against a lineup this good.

After throwing two straight balls to start the fourth to Dustin Pedroia, Hammel grooves a  fastball that Pedroia jumps all over.

It was the 10th home run of the season for Pedroia, but just the start of a batting practice session for Boston.

David Ortiz followed with a single, Adrian Beltre hammered a double to deep left-center and, after a Jason Varitek liner was caught at third, Mike Cameron drives in two with another deep double.

To add to Hammel's misery is Daisuke Matsuzaka's second career hit, a single to right to score Cameron.

Just goes to show you what a quality AL lineup can do. The Rockies have one starter Wednesday night with a 1.15 ERA give up six runs in less than six innings, and then see another with a 0.31 ERA in June struggle to get through four.

End 3rd, Rockies 2-0: Daisuke Matsuzaka has five strikeouts through three innings, including two more in the third. He has seemingly found a groove after shaking off the rust in the first inning.

Tampa Bay and Toronto have already won Thursday. New York is off. Oh, and Baltimore is about to wrap up a win, too. Just in case you still had dreams that the O's would make this a five-team race.

Mid 3rd, Rockies 2-0: Jason Hammel is perfect in the third and extends his scoreless streak to 28 1/3 innings, just 27 1/3 longer than Daisuke Matsuzaka's current run.

End 2nd, Rockies 2-0: A bit better for Daisuke Matsuzaka in the second, but he got to face the pitcher to start it off and then was aided by a bad call at second base. Jonathan Herrera, who singled with one out, looked safe to me trying to steal.

As it stands, Matsuzaka faces just three batters and lowers his ERA in second innings to 1.00, remarkably improved from the 15.00 mark he sports in first innings this year.

Mid 2nd, Rockies 2-0: Mike Cameron remains without a home run in a Red Sox uniform, but he's getting closer. Cameron just drove one to the warning track in straightaway center, where it was caught by Carlos Gonzalez.

Jason Hammel's scoreless streak now stands at 27 1/3 innings, but I predict it will end tonight. In addition to Cameron's drive and Dustin Pedroia's double in the first, Hammel has had a three-ball count on five of the first eight hitters. He even managed to walk Adrian Beltre, which takes effort.

End 1st, Rockies 2-0: The Matsuzaka Mystery Tour has come to Coors Field, and again he is leaving Red Sox fans scratching their collective heads.

Seventeen of the first 27 pitches Daisuke Matsuzaka threw in the bottom of the first inning were balls, resulting in three walks and a pair of singles among the first five hitters.

Matsuzaka began to get his breaking ball over later on in the frame and has to feel good about getting out of this with only two runs allowed. The Rockies had both runs in before an out was recorded and the bases were loaded at the time, so perhaps the Sox righty can take something out of the turnaround.

Still, he threw 37 pitches in his first inning since June 7. His fastball was off-target from the start.

9:08 p.m.: Daisuke Matsuzaka has yet to record an out and Dustin Richardson is already up and warming in the Red Sox bullpen. Matsuzaka is all over the place right now.

Mid 1st, 0-0: Throwing almost exclusively fastballs and a few unsteady breaking balls, Jason Hammel has a three-ball count to three hitters and gives up a double to the other, Dustin Pedroia, but somehow survives.

Hammel threw 24 pitches, 14 for strikes.

8:30 p.m.: With minutes to go before first pitch, here are a few numbers to think about entering the finale.

  • The Sox have lost four straight on the road, their longest slide away from home since a six-gamer last August.
  • Boston's starters rank second in the major leagues in innings (456.1), winning percentage (.660) and wins (35).
  • Daniel Nava's seven doubles over his first 10 games matches the most by any major leaguer in a similar stretch since 1952. Rockies center fielder Carlos Gonzalez had seven in his first 10 games in the majors in 2008, and Toronto's Adam Lind did the same in 2006.
  • Colorado was 0-23 when trailing after seven innings before Wednesday's comeback win.
  • Rockies pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez and Jason Hammel have three of the top four scoreless streaks in the majors this season. Hammel carries a run of 25 1/3 innings without a run into Thursday's start.
  • Colorado owns the best interleague record among NL teams since 2006 at 47-27.

7:45 p.m.: OK, dinner is done and we're ready again to talk baseball. There is so much going on with the Sox (Mike Lowell on DL, Daisuke Matsuzaka off DL, call-up outfielders continuing to shine, J.D. Drew and Kevin Youkilis sidelined, etc.) that we have not stopped to talk about the Rockies starting pitcher for this one.

Jason Hammel is a known name in these parts, having faced the Sox eight times when with Tampa Bay. But he was a different pitcher then.

Hammel, still only 27, was just 7-15 with a 5.90 ERA with the Rays. Upon moving to the NL and becoming a full-time starter about a month into the 2009 season, he began to put things together. He was 10-8 with a 4.45 ERA in 30 starts and overcame an early injury in 2010 to put together the best streak of his career.

Entering Thursday's outing, Hammel has a scoreless streak of 25 1/3 innings. He is 3-0 with a 0.31 ERA in June and has a 37-to-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio in the last two months.

Additionally, Hammel is 5-1 with a 2.80 ERA at home.

He wasn't mentioned alongside the likes of Ubaldo Jimenez and Tim Lincecum and Jonathan Sanchez when this trip started, but if recent trends mean anything, the Sox will have their hands full with Hammel.

6:23 p.m.: As I fired off that last post I noticed my Twitter feed with notes confirming Mike Lowell to the disabled list. Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com said Lowell felt something before Tuesday night's game.

It's pretty remarkable the shape some of the 2007 World Series heroes find themselves in upon returning to the scene of that victory.

Lowell, the MVP of that series, is definitively the 25th man on the roster and his slow trot to first the other night was there for everyone to see.

Jonathan Papelbon, who memorably got the last out in 2007, was destroyed Wednesday night in a dramatic blown save.

And Josh Beckett, whose 2007 regular season and postseason will go down as some of the finest for a Red Sox pitcher in team history, is still a month from returning.

6:15 p.m.: We are awaiting word on who will be sent down or disabled or released or traded or whatever once Daisuke Matsuzaka is formally activated for Thursday's start. The club always waits until the last moment before making anything official, just in case.

There were reports that Mike Lowell would be put on the DL. Unless the Sox are supremely confident that J.D. Drew will return Friday or Saturday, there may not be many other options. They don't want to let go of an outfielder like Josh Reddick and then suddenly be short out there for a game or two, and Terry Francona has said he likes having Dustin Richardson as a second lefty out of the bullpen, so he will probably stay for now.

But we'll see in a few moments. Francona just finished addressing the media in Colorado.

5:55 p.m.: Another day, another new look for the Red Sox lineup. Terry Francona has decided to give Kevin Youkilis a second straight day off to rest a sore elbow, and has elevated Daniel Nava to the second spot. Here are the lineups for both teams:

Red Sox

Marco Scutaro, SS
Daniel Nava, LF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, 1B
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Jason Varitek, C
Mike Cameron, CF
Josh Reddick, RF
Daisuke Matsuzaka, P

Rockies

Jonathan Herrera, 2B
Todd Helton, 1B
Carlos Gonzalez, CF
Brad Hawpe, RF
Seth Smith, LF
Miguel Olivo, C
Ian Stewart, 3B
Clint Barmes, SS
Jason Hammel, P

More updates in a few moments.

7:50 a.m.: Daisuke Matsuzaka makes his second return from the disabled list in less than two months when he takes the mound against the Colorado Rockies on Thursday night.

The 29-year-old right-hander, who has been on the DL with a right forearm strain, has missed two starts since his eight-inning gem in Cleveland on June 7.

That start gave Matsuzaka a 3-1 record with an ERA of 1.98 over his last four outings.

The Sox will be looking for Matsuzaka to help them avoid a series sweep at the hands of the Rockies. The first two games of the series have resulted in painful losses for Boston.

Closer Jonathan Papelbon served up the tying and game-winning homers in the bottom of the ninth to help propel Colorado to an 8-6 victory Wednesday night.

First pitch for the finale is set for 8:40 p.m.

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