Closing Time: David Ortiz allows Sox to salvage win in Oakland following bullpen implosion

June 22, 2014 - 3:30 pm
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When things are in doubt, the Red Sox turn to Big Papi. Once again, he delivered. After the Red Sox bullpen (which entered the day with a 2.79 ERA, second best in the American League) uncharacteristically blew a four-run lead after lack luster performances from Burke Badenhop and Koji Uehara, David Ortiz, who was 0-for-4 leading up to his at-bat in the 10th inning, bailed the relievers out, nailing a go-ahead solo shot off reliever Francisco Abad to lead Boston to a 7-6 win, snapping a three-game losing streak. In his last 10 games coming into Sunday, Ortiz was hitting .229/.325/.429 with two home runs, six RBIs, five walks and seven strikeouts. Ortiz took some wild hacks against A's starter Tommy Milone and the Oakland pitching staff and looked off-balance at the plate before his late homer. That shot concluded a game that featured multiple unexpected turns. The Red Sox generated offense early and often off Milone. Jonny Gomes got things started early in the first inning when he knocked in Brock Holt and Dustin Pedroia with two outs to give the Red Sox a 2-0 lead. For most of the game, Jon Lester didn't need very much more as he proceeded to shut down the top offense in the American League. The southpaw continues to pad his resume as he heads into free agency, throwing 7 2/3 innings with four strikeouts, one walk, four hits and three runs allowed (two of which crossed the plate after he left the game), two earned, on four hits. The strong start continued Lester's impressive season, as he's posted a 3.14 ERA with a 1.21 WHIP with 109 strikeouts in 106 innings pitched so far this season. When he walked off the mound, the Sox seemed thoroughly in command of a 6-1 advantage. Four outs later, the team was on the cusp of a disastrous defeat -- an outcome that was narrowly avoided thanks to Ortiz, who clubbed his second pivotal extra-innings homer in a five-game stretch, following a game-tying blast against the Twins on Wednesday. The homer marked the 16th time in his Red Sox career that Ortiz had hit a go-ahead homer in the ninth inning or later. He now has two this year -- the first season since 2006 since he's had multiple homers of that variety in a single season. WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX -- Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's a two-run lead in the first inning for the Red Sox. The team got its first lead of the series in the first inning when it loaded the bases with two outs and Gomes knocked in Holt and Pedroia. Coming into Sunday's game, the Red Sox were hitting .242/.364/.688 with one home run and 21 RBIs with two outs and the bases loaded. -- David Ross hit a home run in the second inning that extended the Red Sox lead to 3-0. The catcher came into Sunday's game really struggling at the plate, hitting .159/.225/.293 with two homers and five RBIs. -- Jonathan Herrera started a pickle in the third inning that allowed Mike Napoli to steal home. Napoli is the third Red Sox to steal home since the start of the 2013 season, joining Jarrod Salatalamacchia and Shane Victorino. WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX -- Xander Bogaerts committed his third error of the series in the second inning when he rushed a throw to first base coming in on a weak grounder from A's catcher Derek Norris. The error was Bogaerts' fifth of the season at third base and his 11th overall. Bogaerts continued his slide at the plate with an 1-for-5 performance. In the last 10 games coming into Sunday, Bogaerts was hitting .114/.158/.200 with one home runs, two RBIs, two walks, eight strikeouts and no doubles. Bogaerts' hit in the ninth inning snapped a hitless streak of 16 at-bats. -- Burke Badenhop could not record an out in the eighth inning, allowing two inherited runners to score and giving up his first earned run since April 18, when he allowed a run against the Baltimore Orioles in a two-inning outing. The run snapped a 18-inning scoreless streak and a 32 1/3 inning streak without allowing an earned run, the third longest such run in Red Sox history. -- Koji Uehara blew his first save of the season, allowing home runs to Stephen Vogt and pinch hitter John Jaso. Sunday was the second time that Uehara has given up multiple home runs in a relief outing, the first time coming in 2010. Uehara's last regular season blown save came on July 6, 2012; the Sox had entered the day with the second-best save percentage in the AL.

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