With the help of some extra inning heroics by Kevin Youkilis, the Boston Red Sox were able to avoid being swept in a three game series at Fenway Park for the first time since Aug. 2006. Youkilis belted his 2nd home run of the game in the bottom of the 13th inning off of St. Louis’ reliever Mike Parisi (0-3) to propel the Red Sox past the Cardinals 5-3 in Sunday’s interleague match up.
The Sox had plenty of extra-inning opportunities but could not capitalize on them until Youkilis delivered the game winning shot with no outs in the 13th frame. In the 10th, 11th and 12th innings, Sox hitters led off with doubles but could not push across the winning run. The homer was Youkilis’ 13th on the season.
“I knew I hit it really well and I thought it would get out but you never know here sometimes,” Youkilis said. “You can’t beat it. I think it was even more exciting when you have a 13-inning game. You just want to get out of here. That always makes it a lot better of a home run.”
Both teams starting pitchers threw well enough to win but neither factored into the decision.
For St. Louis, Joel Pineiro hurled seven innings and allowed seven hits and only two earned runs. Jon Lester’s performance for Boston was just as impressive. He threw seven and a third innings, allowing nine hits and two earned runs while striking out three in his outing. Lester’s has not allowed more then three earned runs in a game during his last 11 appearances.
The Cardinals would open up the scoring in the 6th inning plating two runs on four hits. Youkilis would then smack his first homer on the day in the 7th inning to cut the lead in half making the score 2-1.
Boston would then take the lead by scoring two more in the bottom of the 8th inning to go ahead 3-2. Coco Crisp led off with a triple and was driven in on a Julio Lugo sac-fly to knot the game at 2-2. Dustin Pedroia would connect on a two-out single and then J.D. Drew and Manny Ramirez would walk to load the bases. Mike Lowell followed suit and walked to drive in the go ahead run.
“When you get in one of those games—at least when you’re playing at home — you always feel like you have the last at-bat,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “We led three innings off with doubles, start the runner on second (and) couldn’t score. Maybe that’s what it takes is somebody running the ball out of the ballpark.”
Jonathan Papelbon entered the game in the 9th inning trying to record his 22nd save of the season but was unable to close the door. After making quick work of Rick Ankiel and Yadier Molina with strike outs, Papelbon issued a two out walk to Chris Duncan. Pinch hitter Adam Kennedy would then connect on an RBI double to even the score at 3-3.
“Just a hellacious game. It’s one of those things that makes you enjoy this level of competition,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “Both clubs had chances for a lot of heroics to get something going. A lot of heroics to stop them. What a great competition.”
The Cardinals had a great opportunity to take the lead in the 11th inning by loading the bases with three singles off of Sox reliever Hideki Okajima. Francona pulled Okajima to put in Craig Hansen to deal with the jam. He was able to come in and strike out Ryan Ludwick to record the final out of the inning.
Javier Lopez recorded the final two outs in the top of the 13th inning and picked up the victory. Lopez is 2-0 on the season with a 2.45 ERA.
The Sox now welcome the Arizona Diamondbacks to Fenway Park for the final interleague play series of the summer. Arizona currently sits atop to very weak NL West division with a 39-37 record, 3 ½ games ahead of the LA Dodgers. Since May 18th the D-Backs have struggled with an 11-18 record and have dropped three straight.
Boston will send Josh Beckett to the hill in the series opener. Beckett is 2-0 in the month of June and is coming off a dominant performance of seven shutout innings against the Reds on Jun 15th. He is also 4-0 this season at Fenway Park.
“I just want to go out there and do what I’m supposed to do, go deep into games,” Beckett told the Red Sox’s official Web site.
Dan Haren will take the mound and try to stop the hurting for Arizona. Haren shares the same regular season record as Beckett at 7-4 with a slightly better ERA at 3.26. In his last outing he cruised to a win in Arizona’s 11-1 win over the Oakland Athletics. In that game, Haren tossed seven innings of four hit ball, striking out eight.
Tonight’s first pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm.
After making it through the top of the 3rd inning, the rains came and washed out the Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals in their season opener. The defending NL Champions were trailing 5-1 at the time the game was called but it will all be erased and replayed at a later date.
The Arizona Diamondbacks still have a bitter taste in their mouth after being swept last October in the NLCS by the Colorado Rockies. Taking the field for the first time since that playoff series, the defending NL West Champions looked very solid in a 4-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. Brandon Webb picked up right where the 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner left off pitching 6 innings, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits in route to his first victory of the year. The offensive attack was led by three solo bombs hit by Chris Young and Eric Byrnes in the 3rd inning and the other hit by Jeff Salazar in a PH at bat in the 7th that gave the D-Backs some breathing room with a 2 run cushion. Brandon Lyon recorded the save pitching a perfect 9th inning.
It was a pitchers duel for 8 innings in Chicago at Wrigley Field between the Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers before both teams came to life for 3 run 9th inning performances, but it was the Brewers who would prevail with a 4-3 victory in 10 innings. Corey Hart lifted the Brewers with a 2 RBI double in the ninth that put them ahead 3-0. Closer Eric Gagne came in and suffered his first blown save of the season (surprise, surprise) by allowing a three-run home run to Cubs RF Kosuke Fukudome, the first of his major league career, which knotted the game at 3-3. In the 10th inning, Tony Gwynn Jr. hit a sac-fly that plated Craig Counsell for the game winning run for the Brewers. David Riske pitched a perfect 10th frame and recorded the save.
With 5 runs on 5 hits in the top of the 9th inning, the Washington Nationals turned a close game into a statement win in their 11-6 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies yesterday at Citizens Bank Park. Nick Johnson’s RBI double opened the flood gates for National bats, and the hits just kept on coming as the team chased out Phillies closer Tom Gordon after allowing 5 earned runs on 4 hits and only recording 1 out. Austin Kearns and Lastings Milledge each produced 2 hits and 2 RBI’s for the Nationals in the win. The Phillies were led by SS Jimmy Rollins who went 2-4 on the game with a pair of RBI’s and a HR.
Behind the arm of Johan Santana, the New York Mets captured their first victory of the 2008 season over the Florida Marlins with a 7-2 win. Santana struck out 8 and allowed only 3 hits over 7 innings. The one mistake he made came in the 4th inning when he allowed a two-run homer to Josh Willingham. After the HR, Santana would only allow two runners to reach base. The Mets scored 6 of their 7 runs in the bottom of the 4th inning, led by a bases clearing double by 3B David Wright. Wright went 2-4 with 3 RBI’s for the game. New York’s bullpen worked a scoreless 8th and 9th to preserve the win for Santana, Mark Hendrickson suffered the loss for Florida.
Brad Penny pitched 6 and 2/3 innings of shutout baseball, and the Los Angeles Dodgers back it up with some early runs that would be hold up for a 5-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants. Barry Zito struggled for the Giants allowing 3 runs in the 1st inning and another in the 2nd. He last only 5 innings and was pulled after 87 pitches and allowing 8 hits. The Dodgers runs in the 1st came on a Matt Kemp RBI single, followed by a Jeff Kent two-run blast to deep left-center field. SS Rafael Furcal also added three hits in the winning effort.
The Atlanta Braves came up just short, twice, in a thrilling 12-11 twelve innings game that ended with the Pittsburgh Pirates on top. The Braves mustered up a 5 run 9th inning to tie the game at 9-9 and left the winning run on base. After a few scoreless innings, the Pirates were able to score three runs in the 12th on Xavier Nady three-run homer to dead center field. The Braves made things interesting scoring 2 in the bottom of the 12th on a Jeff Francoeur solo shot and an RBI single by Matt Diaz but stranded the tying run on base to suffer their second loss of the season. Tom Glavine pitched well for the Braves but took a no decision with 5 innings pitched, 7 hits and 1 earned run allowed. Pirates relief pitcher, Franquelis Osoria, pitched from the 10th inning on, and finished the game for the win.
Jake Peavy helped his own cause by going 1-1 at the plate with 2 RBI’s and then made those runs stand up by pitching 7 scoreless innings in San Diego’s 4-0 victory over the Houston Astros. 2B Tadahito Iguchi paced a balanced offensive attack for the Padres with 3 hits on the night. The Astros looked rusty at the plate only collecting 4 hits in the contest, 2 of them coming from newly acquired SS Miguel Tejada. Row Oswalt took the loss for Houston, scattering 11 hits and 3 strike outs over 5 and 1/3 innings worked.
While everyone’s eyes, ears, and …. imaginations have been focused on where Johan Santana would end up, the American League hot stove has been quietly churning. Here is a quick recap of some moves to date. (more)