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Closing Time: Behind Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox come back, walk off against Braves

05.29.14 at 10:17 pm ET
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Xander Bogaerts collected three hits to help lead the Red Sox to victory. (AP)

Xander Bogaerts collected three hits to help lead the Red Sox to victory. (AP)

For seven innings, it appeared the Red Sox would drop Thursday night’s contest against the Braves in quintessential 2014 Red Sox fashion: A game marked by a struggle to generate any offense marked by continued struggles from Jake Peavy to keep the ball in the ballpark. It is a story that has been written multiple times this season and looked to be unfolding once again, but rather than the disappointing loss that may have come earlier in the season, it was a 4-3 win that extended Boston’s win streak to four games.

When Brock Holt stepped into the batter’s box against David Carpenter, things were simply not going the Red Sox‘s way.

Seemingly, with a flip of a switch, the Red Sox‘ fortunes turned. Holt lofted a soft line drive into left field for what looked like a single… until it bounced past Justin Upton, allowing him to advance to second base.

In stepped Xander Bogaerts to the plate in a situation he has struggled mightily in this season: runners were in scoring position. After fouling off a couple of fastballs, Bogaerts drove a fastball over the head of second baseman Tommy La Stella, throwing his .167 season average with runners in scoring position out the window.

After a Dustin Pedroia single moved Bogaerts to second, A.J. Pierzynski had an opportunity to give the Red Sox their first lead of the game. Pierzynski, who had hit .387 in his last seven games coming into Thursday, lined a single up the middle, which was misplayed, this time by B.J. Upton. The single by Pierzynski was the catcher’s second of the game and marked the third time this season that the 37-year-old has had back-to-back multi-hit games.

The ninth inning started off with two walks against Craig Kimbrel, arguably baseball’s most dominant closer over the last two seasons. The righty’s walks of Bradley and Holt were the first time Kimbrel has walked two batters since September 17. Bogaerts then hit a rocket to Chris Johnson, who dove for the ball and whipped around to throw to second. The throw was offline and bounced away from second baseman Tommy La Stella, allowing Bradley to score on the error.

The comeback came against a bullpen that came into Thursday with the seventh bullpen ERA in baseball at 3.01. The win marked just the third time this season the Red Sox won a game when trailing after seven innings. All it took was a series of events that went completely against the norms of the 2014 Red Sox season.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– Bogaerts continues to rake at the plate, smacking a double off the top of the Green Monster that narrowly missed clearing the fence as the first of three hits on the night. Bogaerts has been a torrid stretch at the plate as of late, hitting .417/.472/.646 with four doubles, two home runs, seven RBI and nine runs scored in 53 plate appearances over his last dozen games.

– Holt continues to make a case to stay in Boston. He collected three hits and a walk. Coming into Thursday’s contest, Holt was hitting .279/.289/.372 with four doubles and two RBIs.

– Peavy turned in one of his best starts of 2014, working a season-long eight innings while allowing three runs (two earned) on eight hits, one walk, four strikeouts and one home run allowed. The outing snapped a streak of three straight contests in which the right-hander had allowed at least five runs (during which he had an 8.82 ERA).

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

David Ross allowed a stolen base to Andrelton Simmons in the fifth inning, marking the 13th time a runner has successfully run on Ross this season. Ross has only thrown two runners so far this year, good for a 13 percent caught stealing rate. Ross threw out 41 percent of potential base stealers last season.

Ryan Lavarnway left his first big league start at first base in the fifth inning with left wrist soreness. Lavarnway was pinch-hit for by Daniel Nava (who had to bat right-handed against the left-handed Minor), who does not have a hit since being recalled to the majors on May 24.

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