Closing Time: Stephen Drew saves day for Red Sox with ninth-inning homer

Rob Bradford
August 07, 2013 - 8:03 pm
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HOUSTON -- Stephen Drew played the hero this time. With one out in the ninth inning, runners on first and second and the Red Sox trailing by a run, Stephen Drew deposited a Josh Fields pitch into the right field seats to hand the visitors a 7-5 win over the Astros, Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park. The victory, which gave the Sox their major league-best 24th series, was the fourth time John Farrell's team has won this season when trailing after eight innings (4-37). Drew's homer plated both pitcher Drake Britton (the pinch-runner for David Ortiz, who had led off the ninth with a single) and Jonny Gomes (walk). The shortstop is now 13-for-28 since the trade of Jose Iglesias. "Just first and second, got one out, threw me a first-pitch changeup, and having watched Jonny's at-bat and having faced him yesterday, I figured if I could get something up in the zone and put a good swing on it. I got a curveball up. He left it out over, I had a good swing, and it worked out good for us," Drew said. "This team's done it all year. It's been fun. Everybody knows their role, and that makes it easier on guys. Everyone's been clutch in the late innings. That's what good teams do. Hopefully we can just keep it going." "[Drew] was starting to get in the flow of things when he came back and got some bats under his belt after the DL stint after the All-Star break," Farrell said. "To have that kind of bat at shortstop in the bottom third of the order, not only does it lengthen things out but he'€™s swinging with a lot of confidence right now against both lefties and righties." Now, the Red Sox head to Kansas City to play a four-game set against the hottest team in the major leagues since the All-Star break. After beating Minnesota Wednesday night, the Royals have now won 16 of their last 20 games. Getting the no-decision was Ryan Dempster, who had been turning in one of his better outings until the sixth inning. After leading off the sixth frame with a double over the head of right fielder Shane Victorino, Robbie Grossman moved to third on a Dempster wild-pitch. After fanning Brandon Barnes, the Sox starter allowed a hard hit grounder off the bat of Jose Altuve, just out of the reach of drawn in third baseman Brock Holt, scoring Grossman with the go-ahead run. Jason Castro's double down the right field line on the next at-bat scored Altuve to give the hosts a two-run advantage. A sacrifice fly off the bat of Marc Krauss scored Castro, making it four of five starts that Dempster had allowed at least five runs. Dempster ended up going six innings, allowing five runs on seven hits, striking out seven and not walking a batter. The righty, who finished throwing 92 pitches (64 strikes), saw his ERA climb from 4.54 to 4.67. "I want to try and pitch better so that I can leave the game leading instead of leave the game losing," Dempster said. "That's my goal for my next start." Here is what went right (and wrong) for the Red Sox, who have no eclipsed their win total of last season: WHAT WENT RIGHT  - Gomes did his part once again to help the Red Sox fight back, this time rocketing a line-drive home run into the left field stands with two outs in the seventh. The two-run homer marked the second straight game the outfielder went deep. Prior to Wednesday, Gomes was hitting .364 with a 1.008 OPS against righties since July 1. - Gomes added another highlight in the seventh, making a sliding catch near the right field stands -- snatching the ball just before it hit the dirt -- for the frame's second out. It helped reliever Junichi Tazawa glide through his two innings of work. - Ortiz singled in each of his first three at-bats, giving him 10 straight at-bats of reaching base safely. Ortiz ended up with his second straight four-hit game. "Impressive," Farrell said of his designated hitter. "They shift on (Ortiz), he hits the ball the other way, they don'€™t shift on him, he hits it back up the middle. We'€™ve seen, he can get into those stretches where he sees the ball as good as anyone. It'€™s impressive what he'€™s done. He'€™s hitting above .330 right now. I think anytime you string together seven consecutive hits, there'€™s a lot going for you but you'€™ve also got to be a pretty damn good hitter to do that." - Koji Uehara struck out the side in the ninth to pick up his 11th save. It was the fifth time this season the righty has recorded all three of his outs via strikeouts. WHAT WENT WRONG - The No. 5 spot in the Red Sox order hasn't set the world on fire, this time with Mike Carp slotted behind cleanup man Ortiz. Carp went 1-for-5 while filling in the for the regular five-hole hitter, Mike Napoli. For the year, the Sox' No. 5 hitters are 24th in batting average .234, having totaled an identical average with runners in scoring position. Among the teams ranking 18-30 for No. 5 hitters' batting average, the Sox are the only playoff contenders. The Yankees' No. 5 hitters are far and away the worst in the majors, hitting .194. - The Sox squandered a quality scoring chance in the sixth inning, loading the bases with one out. But both Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino struck out. The Red Sox have had solid success with the bases full this season, having totaled the sixth-best batting average (.315) in such situations entering Wednesday. Prior to his at-bat, Ellsbury had been 6-for-10, while Victorino was 4-for-8. - Victorino was ejected for the fifth time in his career (the first time since Aug. 5,2011). The ejection was as a result of shouting at third base umpire Brian Knight from the dugout during the top of the seventh inning. Knight had rung up the right fielder in the previous frame, ruling the batter had swung at a third strike. - The Red Sox had another missed opportunity in the seventh when Brandon Snyder -- pinch-hitting for Brock Holt -- swung and miss at a 3-2 fastball from Houston reliever Chia-Jen Lo with runners on first and second and two outs. The strikeout made the Sox 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

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