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Closing Time: Red Sox 5, Tigers 4

07.31.10 at 8:04 pm ET
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Talk about just what the doctor ordered. The Red Sox stood just two outs away from another disappointing loss and having all of Red Sox nation talking about the big moves the Yankees made and the Red Sox didn’t. Then David Ortiz happened for the second straight game.

Ortiz doubled to left-center with one out in the bottom of the ninth to score three runs and lift the Red Sox to a dramatic 5-4 win on over the Detroit Tigers Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park.

Miguel Cabrera drilled a long two-run homer over the Green Monster off Daisuke Matsuzaka in the first as the Tigers raced out to a 2-0 lead and built a 4-0 advantage before the Red Sox rallied with two in the seventh and Ortiz’s 18th career walk-off hit in the ninth.

Two new additions to the Red Sox roster made contributions as Ryan Kalish started in left for Jeremy Hermida, who went from being the starting left field to being designated for assignment just prior to the game. And Dustin Richardson relieved Matsuzaka in the seventh inning, taking the spot of Ramon Ramirez, who was traded to San Francisco at the trading deadline.

Hideki Okajima pitched a perfect ninth to earn the win while former Yankee Phil Coke gave up the game-winning hit and took the loss. The Red Sox, who have won four-of-five, go for the series win on Sunday afternoon.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– Mr. Clutch is back. David Ortiz, one day after delivering a ninth-inning grand slam to help the Red Sox nearly pull off a ninth-inning miracle, did it again with the bases loaded, driving a Coke pitch to the gap in left-center to score three runs and help the Red Sox come away with a much needed emotional win – and lift.

Just two innings earlier Ortiz struck out swinging with the bases loaded on a nasty two-seam fastball from Ryan Perry that ended the Red Sox threat and kept Boston down by two.

And there were two huge statistical numbers working against the Red Sox.

Ortiz entered the at-bat 0-for-8 with three strikeouts against the nasty lefty, who Ortiz acknowledged afterward, “makes a living against lefties.”

The Red Sox were just 1-36 this season when trailing entering the ninth inning. All of that changed after Ortiz laid off a nasty breaking ball on the third pitch he saw and worked the count to 2-1. One pitch later, he put a perfect inside-out swing on a fastball and drove it to the gap for the game-winner.

– Another smashing debut for a rookie outfielder. Like Daniel Nava, Kalish recorded a hit in his first major league at-bat. The Red Sox were looking for energy from another outfield prospect and Kalish delivered. He finished 2-for-4 and scored the second run – his first in the majors – in the seventh on Darnell McDonald’s double to left.

– Oki’s redemption – at least for one game. Hideki Okajima came out in mid-week and tried to explain why he didn’t talk about his implosion last Sunday in Seattle that cost the Red Sox the chance at a series win against the Mariners. On Saturday, he silenced the Tigers when the Red Sox needed him most, throwing a perfect ninth inning and earning his fourth win against three losses.

Jed Lowrie and Darnell McDonald. Both had huge contributions in the clutch. McDonald went 2-for-4 with his two hits coming in his final at-bats. He doubled home Kalish in the seventh to make it, 4-2. He opened the rally in the ninth with a hustle infield single to deep short, beating the throw with a head-first slide. After Marco Scutaro flew out to left, Lowrie pinch-hit for Eric Patterson in the ninth and drilled a double to left-center to move McDonald to third.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– Matsuzaka and his opening statement. The right-hander wouldn’t make a great criminal attorney the way he has trouble in making an opening argument. He allowed a one-out walk to Will Rhymes in the first and got Brennan Boesch to foul out to third before leaving a 1-0 pitch right over the heart of the plate for Cabrera, who crushed his 26th homer of the season over the Monster in left. 2-0 Tigers.

Matsuzaka allowed eight hits and four runs over six-plus innings but was saved from his fourth loss of the season when Ortiz bailed him out in the bottom of the ninth.

– No one in Fenway was more relieved to watch Ortiz’s ball find the gap in left-center than Bill Hall. He was thrown out on a very, very poor base-running decision to try and stretch a single to a double in the seventh, with none out. Instead of a huge rally, the Red Sox had to settle for a runner on third and one out, leading to just two runs and left skipper Terry Francona gnashing his teeth in the dugout.

Adrian Beltre and the double-dip. Maybe nit-picking here after the sensational season he’s had but he hit into two double plays in his first two at-bats as the Red Sox couldn’t solve Max Scherzer.


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