Closing time: Jonathan Herrera's pinch-hit single gives Red Sox walk-off win over Orioles

Ryan Hannable
July 05, 2014 - 11:51 am
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After being swept at home in a three-game series by the Cubs and being tied with the Orioles in the ninth inning following another strong start from Jon Lester, the Red Sox needed a clutch hit to end the skid. That hit came from one of the unlikeliest players -- Jonathan Herrera. His pinch-hit, bloop single in the ninth inning gave the Red Sox a 3-2, walk-off win over the Orioles. Pinch-hitting for Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes reached on an infield single to lead-off the inning. David Ross followed with a sacrifice bunt advancing Gomes to second to set up Herrera's first career walk-off hit. "Veteran guys, they know their role," manager John Farrell said of the ninth inning. "We had anticipated a lefty being on the mound in the ninth inning so we had some lead time to give them a chance to prepare. As Jonny (Gomes) has done many times -- late in the game, finds a way to get on base. Great execution of a sac bunt by Ross and a broken bat base hit by Jonathan (Herrera). Guys stayed prepared, they understood the game and executed well." Although he wasn'€™t as dominant as in his last few starts and received poor defense behind him (three errors), Lester still gave the Red Sox another terrific pitching performance. The left-hander went eight innings, allowing two runs (unearned) on five hits, while not walking a batter and striking out seven. He faced just one batter over the minimum batters over his final three innings, forcing a key double play to end the top of the eighth inning. Lester threw 118 pitches, four shy of a season-high. It was Lester's second straight start going eight innings without allowing a run. The only other Red Sox pitchers since 1988 to accomplish that feat are Roger Clemens (five times) and Pedro Martinez (twice). "That is what I try and pride myself on," Lester said of going deep in games. "The bullpen knowing coming into my starts that I'€™m going to go seven innings '€“ I'€™ve always tried priding myself on innings and going deep in every start. I know at times you cant control that, but I am going to go as long as John (Farrell) lets me and see what happens at the end." Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez was solid as well, tossing eight innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on seven hits and striking out six. Koji Uehara threw a perfect 1-2-3 top of the ninth inning with two strikeouts to pick up the win. Here is what went right (and wrong) for the Red Sox in the win: WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX -- The Red Sox got on the board early, scoring two runs in the second inning, on a solo home run from Drew and the second on heads up base running from Jackie Bradley Jr. For Drew, it was his first homer of the season and his first since Game 6 of last year'€™s World Series. He'€™s now hit safety in four of his last five games. With two outs, Bradley Jr. ripped one into the gap in right center that was cut off before reaching the warning track. Hustling out of the box, Bradley Jr. used his speed to get to second base and into scoring position. His smart base running continued as the next batter, Brock Holt reached on an infield single to second base and the throw took first baseman Steve Pearce off the bag, which allowed Bradley Jr. to alertly scamper home, giving the Sox a 2-0 lead. -- Coming off his dominant month of June where he posted a 1.98 ERA in six starts, his best mark in any month since a 1.84 ERA over six starts in May of 2010, Lester continued the trend not allowing an earned run over eight innings. He has now allowed only four earned runs over his last five starts (37 2/3 innings) for an ERA of 0.96 in that span. -- Daniel Nava continued his strong play since being recalled from Pawtucket on June 2. After going 2-for-3 with a walk Saturday afternoon, Nava has now reached base in 34 of 79 plate appearances for an OBP of .430. -- Bradley Jr. collected two hits, which was his just his second multi-hit game since June 13. Since June 19 he has recorded a hit in nine of his last 12 games. WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX -- The Red Sox played some sloppy defense at times, especially in the early going, committing three errors. The first one proved not to be costly as Lester threw wide of first on a dribbler in front of the plate in the second. The other two came back to hurt as Dustin Pedroia'€™s throw from second base took Mike Napoli off the bag to allow Delmon Young to reach leading off the third inning and then with two outs Xander Bogaerts allowed a soft grounder through his legs at third base, which would'€™ve gotten the Red Sox out of the inning, but instead the Orioles scored their only two runs of the game on the play. -- Bogaerts'€™ struggles at the plate continued as the rookie went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. He is now hitless in his last 27 at-bats and is 2 for his last 50 (.040). -- A.J. Pierzynski went 0-for-4 with four pop ups not making it out of the infield serving as the designated hitter, taking the place of David Ortiz who was returning from his daughter's high school graduation in the Dominican.

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