The Red Sox defeated the Braves 9-4 Sunday afternoon to secure their fourth straight series win.
The difference between the two teams Sunday all came down to one player: Cody Ross. At first, though, it was the pitchers who took center stage. Despite having Aaron Cook and Mike Minor on the mound, neither with impressive numbers and Cook only making his second start (and first in the majors) since his knee injury on May 5, both men were solid through the first three innings. With Cook adding a 1-2-3 fourth, the Sox and Braves headed into the bottom half of the inning in a scoreless tie.
That's when things turned around for the Boston lineup. Walks to Dustin Pedroia and Will Middlebrooks put two men on with nobody out, and when Cody Ross got a flat breaking ball over the plate, he didn't miss it. A high fly ball fell onto the ledge over the Monster for a home run, giving the Sox a 3-0 lead. Two pitches later, and it was Adrian Gonzalez making his mark, knocking his first homer since June 8 down the left field foul line and into the Monster seats to make it 4-0.
The Braves got to Aaron Cook for three runs in the top half of the fifth thanks to a couple unlucky ground balls and a loud triple from Erik Hinske into the triangle, but the Sox responded instantly. With Kelly Shoppach reaching second on an error and Daniel Nava blooping him to third, the Sox were able to add a run on a Will Middlebrooks sacrifice fly, but it was Cody Ross who once again provided the big hit. With Minor offering up a curveball almost identical to the first, Ross hit a homer quite a bit louder than the first, clearing the AAA sign on the Monster and leaving Fenway entirely with a moon shot that put Boston up 7-3.
The Sox would again exchange runs in the sixth, with a homer off Matt Albers being made up for by a Daniel Nava RBI double off the wall. The eighth was not terribly eventful either, with only one run scoring, but the situation made it all the more impactful. Coming to bat for possibly the last time as a Red Sox with Adrian Gonzalez at first, Kevin Youkilis launched a high fly ball to right field that dropped between Jason Heyward and Michael Bourn, perhaps due to a lack of communication. With Gonzalez scoring all the way from first, Youkilis slid into third with the first Red Sox triple in 43 games, and came off to a tremendous ovation as Bobby Valentine gave him a chance for what might be a final individual send off by lifting him for a pinch runner.
With Scott Atchison and Mark Melancon finishing off the game with a pair of scoreless innings, the Sox head home four games above .500 for the first time this season.
|Final - 6.24.2012||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Boston Red Sox||0||0||0||4||3||1||1||0||X||9||11||1|
|WP: Aaron Cook (1 - 1)
LP: Mike Minor (3 - 6)