Playing with a split squad and on the road, the Sox did not have the best of odds entering the game. Using a slew of minor league and backup pitchers against the likes of Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday, after all, is not exactly sound baseball strategy.
The Cardinals did get off to the expected quick start against Stolmy Pimentel, as three straight hits from Pujols, Holliday, and Lance Berkman gave them a 2-0 first inning lead. But the Sox fought back against Jaime Garcia in the top of the second, with Jacoby Ellsbury plating Yamaico Navarro with a double before scoring himself on a Darnell McDonald single. They even took a lead in the third when the Sox manufactured a run after Kevin Youkilis’ leadoff single.
Things finally fell apart in the fifth, though. Jason Rice, arguably the pitcher with the best combination of MLB readiness and overall talent on that list, found himself the victim of a five-run inning. Rice only recorded the first out of the frame after four straight hits, and followed that up with a pair of walks. When all was said and done, the score was 7-3.
The Red Sox were in “never say die” mode today, however, rallying in the eighth.
Entering the eighth still trailing by three, the Sox’ backups made one last push. With the first two batters reaching, the Sox moved them over with a sacrifice bunt—one that may not have been strictly necessary, as Alex Hassan followed it up with a two-run double.
Down just one run, Ryan Lavarnway stepped to the plate, ready to provide the last big hit.
The slugging catcher had already driven in a run back in the sixth inning with a double. This time he did himself one better, cementing his role as the hero of the game with a game winning home run. The Sox held the Cardinals off the board for the last two innings to seal the deal.
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