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Closing Time: Shane Victorino saves day for Red Sox in win over Blue Jays

08.13.13 at 10:46 pm ET
By
Shane Victorino

Shane Victorino

TORONTO — It was a bit more taxing than the Red Sox would have preferred, but in the end they got their win.

With two outs in the 11th inning — with runners on second and third — Shane Victorino grounded a two-run single up the middle against Blue Jays reliever Aaron Loup, handing the Sox a 4-2 win over Toronto. Scoring on the decisive play were Jacoby Ellsbury and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

The Red Sox are now four games up on Tampa Bay in the American League East, their biggest lead since July 7.

“I’m just trying to put the ball in play,” Victorino said. “Once I got down two strikes I was trying to get a ball I could handle. Fortunately I got a ball out over the middle of the plate and was able to put it through to center field and get the two ribbies.”

Heading into the eighth inning, it appeared as though the Red Sox had set things up in fine fashion, holding a one-run lead with reliever Junichi Tazawa on the mound. But Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia took Tazawa’s fifth pitch over the left field wall for the game-tying solo shot.

It continued Tazawa’s struggles against the Blue Jays this season, with the reliever having now allowed seven runs over seven innings in seven appearances.

Prior to Arencibia’s blast, it looked as though Dustin Pedroia would be playing hero. The Red Sox second baseman had singled in the go-ahead run during the visitors’ two-run seventh inning, scoring Ellsbury.

Pedroia, who is now hitting .500 (6-for-12, 3 walks) with runners in scoring position, followed up an RBI single from Ellsbury, scoring Will Middlebrooks. The Sox third baseman reached via his first extra-base hit since returning to the major-league lineup, a double into the right field corner.

A huge positive for the visitors was also the pitching performance of Ryan Dempster. The righty, who had allowed five or more runs in four of his last five starts, finished his seven innings giving up one run on four hits while throwing 88 pitches.

“I know I’m better than that,” said Dempster of his recent struggles. “Sometimes you hit those patches and those rough spots, but I was able to make an adjustment and be a little bit better tonight.”

Here is what went right (and wrong) for the Red Sox:

WHAT WENT RIGHT

- Salatlamacchia added to his career-high double total, ripping a two-bagger into the right field corner in the fifth inning. It was just the third hit of the game at the time for the Sox.

- Jonny Gomes once again proved to be productive as a pinch-hitter, this time walking to load the bases in the sixth inning against Blue Jays’ reliever Brett Cecil. He has now been on base in 12 of his 24 plate appearances as a pinch-hitter this season.

- Victorino threw an absolute strike to home on Edwin Encarnacion’s single to right in the sixth inning, nailing Jose Reyes (who chose not to slide or collide into catcher Saltalamacchia) for the frame’s final out.

“I knew the ball was hit hard. At first I kind of wondered if they were going to send him. The thought went through my mind, but I still had to come up and throw and make the best throw I could,” Victorino said. “Those kind of plays you always analyze the situation – with the ball hit hard are they going to send them here? It was kind of a tricky hop. It kind of short-hopped because it got out there quick. But it also gave me enough time to gather myself and not rush, so that helps.”

Regarding Victorino’s play in the field, Farrell said, “To me, defensively, he might be the best right fielder in baseball right now just because of his range and his ability to throw. He’s an intuitive player. He’s instinctual. He finds a way to make something happen based on the game situation that’s in front of him.”

- Koji Uehara recorded the final four outs for the Sox, picking up his 12th save in 15 chances. The righty has gone 15 straight outings without giving up a run, a 17 1/3-inning stretch in which hitters are managing just an .091 batting average.

WHAT WENT WRONG

- The Red Sox squandered a golden opportunity in the sixth inning, loading the bases with one out. But Mike Napoli — who had been 8-for-16 with 23 RBI with the bases full — was called out on a called third strike, paving the way for Stephen Drew’s inning-ending fly out to center.

- The Sox couldn’t solve Toronto rookie starter Todd Redmond. The righty left the game after not allowing a run, while giving up three hits, striking out five and walking one over 5 1/3 innings. Redmond was coming off a start against the Angels in which he allowed three runs on seven hits over 3 2/3 innings.

- The Jays struck first against Dempster and the Red Sox, with J.P. Arencibia singling in Brett Lawrie with one out in the fifth inning. Entering  the frame, the Sox starter had allowed just one hit.

- Napoli continued his struggles, going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts, leaving five men on base. The first baseman is 5-for-37 (.135) with 18 strikeouts this month. He is also 1-for-24 with men on base in August, striking out with the potential game-winning run at second base in the 10th inning. He leads the major leagues in runners left on base (134) since June 1.

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