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Red Sox 6, Angels 3: Adrian Gonzalez Delivers Game Winner In Eleventh Inning

The Red Sox emerged victorious in their first extra-innings game of the year, downing the Angels 4-2 in 11 innings.

Offensively, Boston was faced with the same problem that has plagued them for much of the season: hitting with runners in scoring position. Despite picking up sixteen baserunners through the first nine innings, a 1-for-14 mark with RISP resulted in just two runs, and those only just barely. With no runs on the board in the sixth inning, David Ortiz led things off with a walk, and Jed Lowrie singled to give the Red Sox two on and nobody out. The Sox elected to have Carl Crawford bunt them over, setting up Jason Varitek--who has spent his entire season striking out, picking up only a single hit along the way--with the RBI opportunity. That he went down by way of the K was no surprise. Down to their last opportunity in the frame, Jacoby Ellsbury came up to bat and lifted the first pitch he saw softly into right. Torii Hunter, playing deep, pulled up short, and the Red Sox picked up a pair.

Making the Sox' situation worse was the absence of Kevin Youkilis, who left the game after fouling a ball hard off his right shin. He finished his at bat, but departed after trainers examined him (the NESN cameras caught sight of a large purple bruise).

As bad as their clutch hitting was, their pitching was once again on fire. Josh Beckett was about as impressive as he was in his last two starts, carrying a no-hitter into the sixth inning, and then it was only broken up by the luckiest of hits-a high chopper that bounced well above the pitcher's mound. Josh Beckett bobbled the ball as it came down, but it took so long to do so that even cleanly fielded it would have been a tough play to make.

The damage done in the seventh inning, however, was rather more substantial. After Bobby Abreu drew a leadoff walk, Josh Beckett and Torii Hunter fought to a 2-2 count before Beckett buried a 2-seam fastball on the corner that seemed like a strike. The umpire let it go, however, and on the very next pitch--a fastball right down broadway--Torii Hunter flipped his bat and watched the ball sail well over the wall in center, tying the game at two a piece.

Terry Francona, seemingly trying to get Beckett the win, left his starter in the game for the eighth inning despite already being well over 100 pitches. For a moment, this seemed to have been a disastrous decision. With a full count on leadoff batter Erick Aybar, Beckett gave him a ball he could hit, and he scorched a ground ball double down the right field line. Not content with just two bases, though, Aybar tried to stretch it to three--a mistake that seems to have cost the Angels the game, as J.D. Drew hit his cutoff man in Dustin Pedroia, who fired to third for the out.

With both sides putting up zeroes in the ninth and tenth, the Red Sox finally through against Rich Thompson. J.D. Drew started the inning as a leadoff hitter should--with a walk--and then went first to third when Dustin Pedroia laced a single to right. With the winning run just 90 feet away, Adrian Gonzalez swung at the first pitch he saw, and hammered another ball to right, this time for an RBI double.

While the Red Sox would not end up needing any more runs, they would get one thanks to a sacrifice fly and some interesting baserunning from Dustin Pedroia. With runners on second and third and one out, Darnell McDonald hit a ground ball to Maicer Izturis. The Angels' third baseman fielded the ball, and immediately forced Dustin Pedroia into a rundown.

For once, though, it didn't work. Pedroia dodged the tag, appearing to leave the basepath in the process, but not enough apparently for the umpire to call him out. The Sox would take advantage, adding an insurance run when Jed Lowrie came through with a bases loaded sacrifice fly after a nine pitch at bat. Jonathan Papelbon came in and once again sealed the deal, picking up another strong save by striking out Howie Kendrick after a ten pitch battle.