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Closing Time: Rubby De La Rosa dominant as Sox take series finale over Angels

08.10.14 at 6:40 pm ET
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After using eight relievers in a 19-inning marathon Saturday night, the Red Sox needed as many innings as they could get from starter Rubby De La Rosa in Sunday’s series finale against the Angels.

De La Rosa not only gave them the innings, but was impressive in doing so.

The right-hander gave up one run on five hits in seven solid innings Sunday afternoon to lead the Sox to a 3-1 win over the Angels. It was the Red Sox‘ first series win since a three-game sweep of the Royals July 18-20.

Caught in a pitcher’s duel with Angels starter Hector Santiago, De La Rosa put together a dominant performance. He walked three and struck out eight in a 110-pitch effort for his first win since July 19.

Sunday’s performance was perfect end to a strong road trip for De La Rosa, who picked up his first win away from Fenway Park this season. He posted a 6.04 ERA in his first four road starts with the Sox this year, but has allowed just two runs in his last 14 innings on the road.

Here’s what went right (and wrong) for the Red Sox as they improved to 52-65 for the season.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

– De La Rosa gave the exhausted Red Sox staff exactly what it needed on Sunday: quality innings. The 25-year-old was nearly unbeatable for most of his outing until a leadoff home run by Mike Trout in the eighth inning chased him from the game.

De La Rosa played with fire early in his outing. He allowed multiple runners to reach base with one or no outs in three of the first four innings, but escaped without any damage. He settled down from there, retiring 11 of the last 13 batters he faced.

– Yoenis Cespedes finally gave the Red Sox the power they’ve been looking for since acquiring the Cuban at the trade deadline. Cespedes lined a three-run homer over the left field wall off reliever Joe Smith in the eighth to plate the only Sox runs of the game. He finished the three-game series with three hits and five RBIs.

– Dustin Pedroia extended his hitting streak to four games with a double, single and a run scored Sunday. The second baseman is hitting .341 since Aug. 1 and has three straight multi-hit games. Pedroia’s slugging percentage was at .432 in his last eight games entering Sunday, the highest it’s been at any point this season, and his fourth-inning double to deep center showed that extra pop he’s had in his bat as of late. Pedroia also made an impressive diving stop on a Kole Calhoun grounder in the seventh to get the inning-ending out at first.

WHAT WENT WRONG

– Things only got worse at the plate for Jackie Bradley Jr. on Sunday. The center fielder went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts for the game and is now hitless in his last 35 at-bats with 18 strikeouts. Bradley’s last hit came July 26 in Tampa Bay. He has struck out at least once in 11 of his last 14 games.

– If Xander Bogaerts is still trying to establish himself as the Red Sox’ longterm shortstop, he didn’t help his cause early Sunday as he committed his team-high 17th error of the season on a throwing miscue while trying to turn a double play in the first inning. Bogaerts nearly committed another error in the second when he bobbled a David Freese grounder, but gathered himself and made the play.

The 17 errors may be a team high, but it’s only Bogaerts’ seventh in 63 games at shortstop as opposed to 10 in just 44 games at third base. It was the 21-year-old’s first error since moving back to short Aug. 1.

– Mike Napoli, who played as the designated hitter Sunday, was ejected in the eighth after arguing a strikeout on a belt-high breaking ball on the outside corner. The 1-2 offering appeared to be in the zone, but Napoli took the pitch and went down looking, reacting in disgust to the call.

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