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Closing Time: Ortiz’s slump-busting single lifts Red Sox over White Sox, 4-3

08.30.13 at 10:24 pm ET
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David Ortiz’s fourth-inning single no doubt came as a relief for him, as it snapped an 0-for-23 streak that had tied the longest hitless streak of his Boston career. It may have given an even bigger lift to the Red Sox, as it drove in what wound up being the game-winning run of their 4-3 victory over the White Sox on Friday.

At the time, Ortiz’s RBI single through the shift put the Sox up 4-0 and knocked Hector Santiago out of the game after just 3 2/3 innings. But they wound up needing those insurance runs later, as the White Sox eventually pushed across three runs against Ryan Dempster.

After missing a start due to a suspension, the righty did turn in one of his better starts in the last two months: he recorded an out in the seventh inning for only the second time since June and worked out of a few rough spots that could have put the Sox in holes.

However, against the White Sox, who have scored the fewest runs in the American League and the second-fewest in baseball, the Sox might have liked to see the Dempster limit Chicago to fewer than three runs and strike out more than five. But the Sox’ bats picked him up, with every Boston player except Jarrod Saltalamacchia reaching base at least once.

At the very least, Dempster’s start was a significant improvement over his last outing, when he gave up seven runs to the Yankees in a 9-6 loss. He got off to an inauspicious start on Friday, walking the first two batters he faced in the game and allowing Alejandro De Aza to steal second. But a double play and a strikeout got him out of the inning, and he retired the next nine batters in order.

“I felt good. My body felt really good. My arm felt really good,” Dempster said. “I worked hard in the time off I had to be as ready as possible and I got good results because of it.”

Dempster dodged trouble in the fifth inning, in which he gave up four hits (but just one run, thanks to Paul Konerko getting caught in a rundown). A solo homer to Avisail Garcia followed by a single off the wall (played well by Jonny Gomes to prevent extra bases) ended Dempster’s night.

Here’s a look at what went right and what went wrong for the Red Sox on Friday.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

– Shane Victorino continued the success he’s been enjoying all month, going 2-for-3 and scoring a pair of runs. Victorino singled twice and stole second in the first inning, bringing his average in August up to .330.

- Will Middlebrooks stole his first base of the year, and it turned out to be an important one: stealing second put him in position to move to third on a Jacoby Ellsbury groundout. He then scored on a single to shallow center by Shane Victorino, putting the Sox up 2-0.

Middlebrooks is no Ellsbury – that was just the fifth stolen base of his major-league career, as he swiped four last year. But he’d worked a four-pitch walk to reach base in the first place, watching four straight sinkers from Santiago miss the zone. He also squared up a fastball for a single to center in the sixth inning, going 1-for-3 on the night. Middlebrooks has now reached base in 13 of his 18 starts since returning to the Sox, hitting .345 in that time.

– Pedroia hit his AL-high 35th double of the year in the fourth, later scoring on Ortiz’s single. After a cold stretch in late July and early August, Pedroia is 13 for his last 28 with seven doubles in the last eight games.

Koji Uehara entered with two outs in the eighth inning and needed just 17 pitches to close out the game from there, retiring the White Sox in order for a four-out save.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Jacoby Ellsbury went 0-for-4, grounding out twice and striking out swinging twice. During the second strikeout, he swung and missed twice on David Purcey‘s slider, but the last of those sliders did bounce away from catcher Josh Phegley, allowing Middlebrooks to take second.

– The Red Sox left the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth, although it didn’t end up hurting them. Jonny Gomes worked a full count and fouled off two pitches from Purcey, but eventually swung through a fastball to strand Middlebrooks, who had singled, Pedroia, who’d been intentionally walked, and Ortiz, who’d drawn a walk of his own. Gomes had previously been 4-for-5, including a home run, with the bases loaded this year.

– Dempster gave up a solo homer to Avisail Garcia to lead off the seventh inning and has now allowed 14 home runs over his last 15 starts. He entered the game with the AL’s seventh-highest home runs per nine innings rate (1.42).

– Though the third run was charged to Dempster, it came on a triple allowed by Junichi Tazawa. Tazawa entered in the seventh inning with one out and gave up a triple to Alejandro De Aza, bringing Dayan Viciedo around to score and cutting the Red Sox’ lead to 4-3. De Aza took Tazawa’s first pitch, a fastball on the inside corner, into the right-field corner, where it almost bounced over the wall but instead stayed in play, allowing Viciedo to score from first.

“I understand that there have been some ups and downs,” Tazawa said through a translator. “I’m trying my best to limit that up and down, but it hasn’t been reflected in the results yet.” The reliever added, “I agree with the manager’s assessment. I’m getting some advice from Koji about how I should grip the ball so I don’t leave the ball up.”

Read More: Chicago White Sox, Ryan Dempster,
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