|Closing Time: Three is magic number as Red Sox, Cody Ross walk off with win||07.19.12 at 10:02 pm ET|
Cody Ross blasted his third three-run homer in two days, this one a one-out blast with two on in the bottom of the ninth, as Fenway Park erupted in bedlam with a 3-1 Red Sox walk-off victory over the White Sox. The triumph was the third of the year in which Boston trailed entering the ninth inning.
The eruption in the ninth marked a drastic change in a game when the Red Sox could do next to nothing for eight innings against rookie left-hander Jose Quintana. But in the ninth, the re-energized Boston lineup — reinvigorated by the addition of Carl Crawford and a resurgent Adrian Gonzalez — erased a 1-0 deficit.
Crawford led off the ninth inning with a single against White Sox reliever Matt Thornton. Dustin Pedroia hit into a 5-4 force-out (with Crawford’s hard slide into second baseman Gordon Beckham helping to ensure that a double play would not be turned), and advanced to second when Gonzalez lined a single into right field.
With runners on first and second and one out, White Sox manager Robin Ventura elected to pull Thornton in favor of right-hander Addison Reed. The move backfired, as Ross blasted his third career walk-off homer, and his first since 2009.
The Red Sox won three out of four contests against the AL Central division leaders. Boston is now 5-2 in the second half.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
• In his second start back after recovering from esophagitis, Clay Buchholz was stellar. He pitched eight strong innings, allowing just one run on six hits while striking out six. Buchholz is now 4-1 with a 2.63 ERA in his last seven starts. Despite going 0-1 in his two starts since returning from the disabled list, Buchholz has given up a total of just five runs on nine hits while recording 14 strikeouts in those two outings.
For the first time in this series, Red Sox pitching was able to get out of the first inning without giving up a run, something that has plagued the staff recently. Buchholz gave up a single to Alexei Ramirez but responded by striking out Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko looking to end the inning. That ended a streak of 10 straight games in which the Sox have allowed first-inning runs.
• Dustin Pedroia, in his first start back since July 4 after a stint on the 15-day disabled list with a hyperextended right thumb, went 1-for-4 with a single in the seventh that ignited a potential rally. Pedroia looked good at the plate and defensively and showed no ill effects of his injury.
• Pedro Ciriaco continued his startling beginning in a Red Sox uniform. Ciriaco, batting ninth as the designated hitter with David Ortiz out, tripled to left-center for the Red Sox’ first hit of the game in the third. With the hit, he became the first Red Sox player since Creighton Gubanich on June 28, 1999, to triple as the DH batting ninth.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
• The Red Sox loaded the bases in the seventh after Pedroia, Gonzalez and Ross notched back-to-back-to-back singles. With one out, Will Middlebrooks came up to bat, but after working the count full (with three foul balls on two-strike counts), the rookie grounded into a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play. It proved to be the Red Sox’ best opportunity to plate some runs until the ninth.
For the series, Middlebrooks finished 2-for-16 with a pair of hitless performances.
• The offense started out very slow, as Quintana retired 19 of the first 20 batters he faced through the first 6 1/3 innings. Some of that represented bad luck for the Red Sox, as the lineup launched several fly balls to the deeper regions of the outfield, but Quintana nonetheless recorded 1-2-3 innings in the first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth.
A two-out triple by Ciriaco in the third produced the lone baserunner for the Red Sox during that span.
• Despite a more than solid outing, Buchholz may have liked to take his third inning back. He walked Dunn to begin the frame, and the burly DH advanced to third on Konerko’s single to right. Alex Rios then delivered a deep fly ball to right that easily scored Dunn to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead.
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