Results tagged ‘ Dustin Pedroia ’

Girardi managing whole team, not just A-Rod

Did anyone really expect Alex Rodriguez to be in the starting lineup Tuesday night at Fenway Park? Sure, manager Joe Girardi said Sunday after A-Rod’s announcement that Friday night would be his last game with the Yankees that he would talk to him and “play him as often as he wants,” but he had to back off that for the overall good of the team.

As it is, promising Rodriguez at least one start in the three-game series, Thursday night against knuckleballer Steven Wright, is more than A-Rod could have expected. If the Yankees want to make a serious run at the second wild card berth, they will have to hop over several clubs, and one of them is Boston. A player is supposed to earn his way into a lineup, and Rodriguez’s 3-for-30 showing in the second half is all the evidence anyone needs as to why he played himself onto the bench.

The computer got Rodriguez Tuesday night. He is 3-for-20 (.150) in his career against Boston starter Rick Porcello. The righthander had pitched complete games in each of his previous two starts, a rarity these days. Red Sox manager John Farrell might have been wise to let Porcello go for another compete game rather than turn to Craig Kimbrel, who was so wild that he nearly blew the game.

Kimbrel walked four batters in the inning that led to a run and kept the bases loaded with two out. Matt Barnes had to be summoned to face Mark Teixeira, who ended the rally when he looked at a third strike.

In A-Rod’s former designated hitter role was Brian McCann as the Yankees got another look at Gary Sanchez behind the plate. He had a rough night at the plate (0-for-4) but was nimble behind it and threw out another base runner.

McCann got a key, two-out single in the third inning that scored Brett Gardner, who reached base four times (double, two singles, walk) as the Yanks built a 2-0 lead against Porcello (15-3). They had scored in the second inning as well on doubles by Starlin Castro and Chase Headley.

Making his first major league start since May 13 following three impressive relief outings in which he allowed one run in 8 1/3 innings (1.08 ERA), Luis Severino gave up the lead in losing a nine-pitch at-bat to Dustin Pedroia. After fouling off five straight pitches, Pedroia lined a double down the right field line to knock in the trying runs.

More extra-base hits were to come in the fifth as the Red Sox scored three runs in a triple by catcher Sandy Leon, a double by rookie Andrew Benintendi and another double by Pedroia. Newly signed lefthander Tommy Layne relieved Severino and allowed an RBI single to David Ortiz.

Until the meltdown by Kimbrel, there were no openings to use Rodriguez perhaps as a pinch hitter. Reports questioned why Girardi did not have A-Rod bat form Aaron Hicks, who was 0-for-3 when he batted in the ninth and drew the second walk off Kimbrel.

Will this ever end? Yes. Finally, Friday.

Yanks’ best pitching combo avoids sweep by Bosox

If the Yankees are going to make a real run for a postseason berth, they are going to have to start doing better against clubs in their own division. Sunday night was a good start, a 3-1 victory over the Red Sox to avoid getting swept at home against their traditional rival.

It has been rough going for the Yankees in the American League East this year. Sunday night’s victory improved their record in the division to 11-19, including 2-6 against the Red Sox. Against the rest of the major leagues, the Yanks’ record is 34-27.

Coming off his briefest start of the year July 10 at Cleveland, Masahiro Tanaka again pitched well following a Yankees loss in out-dueling David Price and ending Boston’s six-game winning streak. Dustin Pedroia took Tanaka deep with one out in the first inning, but that would be all the Red Sox would score all night as they were stymied by Tanaka and No Runs DMC, the best possible pitching combination for the Yankees.

Tanaka went six innings, allowed only two other hits and one walk with seven strikeouts to improve his season record to 7-2 with a 3.15 ERA. It is even better when he starts on extra rest. The righthander was pitching on six days’ rest Sunday night. His record when he starts on five or more days’ rest is 6-0 with a 1.64 ERA.

That is fitting with Japanese baseball scheduling in which starting pitchers seldom work more than once a week. That cannot always be worked out in the major leagues, but Yankees manager Joe Girardi has tried whenever possible to get an extra day here or there for Tanaka, whose record after Yankees losses is 4-1 with a 2.36 ERA. He is unbeaten in his past six starts (4-0 with a 3.29 ERA in 38 1/3 innings).

The Yankees have given Price a hard time this year (1-2 with a 7.79 ERA in three starts totaling 17 1/3 innings). They finally got to him in the fourth inning when they scored all their runs on five of their 11 hits in the game.

Didi Gregorius kept up his torrid hitting against left-handed pitching with a one-out single to center to start the rally. He scored the tying run on a double to left by Starlin Castro. After Rob Refsnyder struck out, Austin Romine put the Yankees ahead with a single to center. Singles by Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury accounted for the third run. Ellsbury got a second hit off Price in the sixth to raise his career average against him to .357.

Gregorius added a double off Price in the fifth and is now batting .370 off lefties in 81 at-bats. Going into this season, Gregorius was a .214 hitter against lefthanders. He, Gardner and Ellsbury, the three left-handed hitters in the Yankees’ lineup, combined to go 6-for-11 against Price, who gave up the most hits to left-handed batters in a game in his career.

Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman worked their usual magic over the last three innings, each putting up a zero to extend the bulllpen’s scoreless streak to 19 innings. Chapman walked David Ortiz with one out in the ninth but got Hanley Ramirez to ground into a double play in picking up his 18th save.

Yanks need to get leads for bullpen trio

The Yankees will get some help Monday, although it will not be in an area of need. Aroldis Chapman, the flame-throwing relief pitcher, will come off his 30-day suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy, but the back end of the bullpen is the least of the Yankees’ woes.

The Yankees already have plenty of strength there with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances. Chapman, acquired by trade in the off-season from the Reds, will give the Yankees the most formidable bullpen trio since Cincinnati’s legendary “Nasty Boys” — Randy Myers, Rob Dibble and Norm Charlton — for Lou Piniella’s 1990 World Series champions.

What remains at question is how often the Yankees can give these three relievers leads to protect. The bats went silent again Sunday night as they were tamed by knuckleballer Steven Wright, who came within one out of a shutout ruined by Brett Gardner’s third home run of the season. It was one of only three hits by the Yanks, whose hopes of sweeping the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium were dashed in Boston’s 5-1 victory.

Luis Severino’s record fell to 0-5, although manager Joe Girardi expressed encouragement that the second-year righthander is turning the corner. Severino was clocked for three home runs — two by David Ortiz — but he had nine strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. The Red Sox added a fourth home run in the eighth as Xander Bogaerts took Chasen Shreve deep. The way Wright pitched, Severino’s fate was sealed In the first inning when he walked leadoff batter Mookie Betts and gave up a home run to Dustin Pedroia in the first row of the right field stands.

Big Papi, on the other hand, launched a pair of bombs that were milestones in a career he plans to conclude at the end of this season, a decision that looks awfully premature considering the way he is swinging the bat. Ortiz pushed his career home run total to 512, passing Mel Ott on the career list and tying Ernie Banks and Eddie Mathews, three Hall of Fame sluggers. Of that total, 454 have come with the Red Sox, the second most in club history behind only Ted Williams, whose career total of 521 were all hit for Boston.

Ortiz has just been taking batting practice against the Yankees this season. In six games against them, Big Papi is batting .364 with five home runs and seven RBI in 22 at-bats. The Stadium crowd let him have it with the boos for his embarrassing tirade against umpire Ron Kulpa Friday night, but he pretty much quieted everybody with the pair of massive shots off Severino.

The Yankees had one hit over the first six innings against Wright, 30, a journeyman who has restarted his career with the knuckleball. They did not have a runner in scoring position until the seventh when Starlin Castro led off with a double to right. He crossed to third on a flyout but was thrown out trying to get back to the bag after deciding against trying to score on a pitch in the dirt. Castro, who was picked off second base four games ago, hurt a rib on the play and was pinch-hit for in the ninth, but Girardi said he did not consider the injury serious and expected Castro to play Monday night when the World Series champion Royals open a four-game set at the Stadium.

Chapman will be there, too. Can the Yankees give him reason to get into the game. Yankees fans can only hope so.

Jeter runs it out as usual in final big-league game

Once you saw Carl Yastrzemski on the field at Fenway Park before Sunday’s season finale that marked Derek Jeter’s last major-league game you know this was a big deal. Yaz is one of the most reclusive former athletes in the world. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989 and has gone back for a ceremony only twice, in 2000 and 2009 for the inductions of former teammates Carlton Fisk and Jim Rice, respectively.

So there was Yaz on the Fenway infield with other Boston stars of the past – Rice, Luis Tiant, Rico Petrocelli, Fred Lynn, Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek – all decked out in Red Sox jerseys to pay homage to a star of the Yankees. The Red Sox did it up big for the Yanks’ captain. Along with Varitek, DJ’s counterpart with the Red Sox, former captains of Boston’s other pro sports teams – Bobby Orr (Bruins), Troy Brown (Patriots) and Paul Pierce (Celtics) – were on hand for the pregame ceremony as well.

The Red Sox had taken a tongue-in-cheek approach to Mariano Rivera’s farewell last year, and it laid a huge egg. They made up for that this year with a grand sendoff for Jeter. David Ortiz and Red Sox shortstop Zander Bogaerts presented Jeter with a sign made up of Fenway scoreboard lettering reading, “Re2spect,” and second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who became friendly with Jeter when they were teammates on the USA team in the World Baseball Classic several years ago, handed the retiring icon second base with No. 2 in pinstripes across the front. The Red Sox organization also gave Jeter a $22,222.22 donation to the Captain’s Turn2 Foundation, equaling the largest check he received from an opposing team, that of the Mets. Major League Baseball had also given Jeter a check for that amount, but not surprisingly the Yankees came up with the largest donation of all — $222,222.22.

There had been some speculation that Jeter might pull a Ted Williams and not play in the three-game series following his triumphant final game at Yankee Stadium Thursday night when he had the game-winning hit. Teddy Ballgame homered in his final Fenway at-bat in 1960 and decided not even to go to New York for the last series considering the Yankees had already clinched the American League pennant. Well, the Yankees were out of contention this week, too, something Jeter was not accustomed to, but out of respect for the game and the supporters of the Yankees’ biggest rivals he made the trip to Boston.

There were no such things as farewell tours years ago. Players would receive a standing ovation and then just go home. In fact, Jeter’s last game came on the 46th anniversary of Mickey Mantle’s last big-league appearance, also at Fenway Park. The Mick started at first base but never took the field. He batted in the first inning, popped out to shortstop, and was replaced at his position by Andy Kosco. Unlike Jeter, however, Mantle did not announce his retirement in that season of 1968 but rather the following March before the start of spring training in 1969.

Jeter had made a pact with manager Joe Girardi that he would make two plate appearances as the designated hitter, the same as he did Saturday. Jeter did not play Friday night because he was exhausted from all the tension and excitement of his Stadium exit game as well as his last as a shortstop. DJ lined out to short in the first inning. Batting with Ichiro Suzuki on third base after hitting a two-run triple in the third, Jeter hit chopper off the plate and beat it out for a single that drove in a run, his 50th RBI of the season, and settled his career hit total at 3,465, sixth on the all-time list.

At that point, Jeter came out of the game for a pinch runner, of all people, Brian McCann, one of the slowest runners in the majors (he even lost a pregame footrace to Mark Teixeira). Unlike last Thursday night when his emotions nearly got the best of him, Jeter was calm and flashed often his signature smile. While he left the game, he did not leave the dugout and cheered on his mates through a 9-5 victory.

The Red Sox had one more cool surprise for Jeter. They arranged for Bernie Williams, former Yankees center fielder and current road musician, to play “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on his guitar for his old teammate during the seventh-inning stretch, a poignant moment that echoed the end of an era for the Yankees. Perhaps that is why the Red Sox celebrated the day.

Jeter, not always comfortable with the out-of-town attention this year and under some criticism lately for what seemed at times an over-merchandizing of his farewell tour, was grateful to the Red Sox for this parting glass.

What I will take mostly from this game was Jeter’s hit itself. He ran hard to first base as he did from Day One in a Yankees uniform, forcing an infielder to hurry and eventually be unable to make the play. Most Yankees fans would have surely loved to see Jeet rip one over the Green Monster to finish off his career, but the dash to first base exemplified what Jeter was all about the past 20 years. You run everything out. It is the only way he played every day.

Yanks find out Red Sox have not quit on 2014

The change in the calendar should have given the Yankees a sense of urgency. The dog days of August are upon us with each game becoming more and more pivotal. Friday night at Fenway Park proved a major disappointment in the first game after the non-waiver trade deadline as the Yankees failed to do much damage against a rookie pitcher one season removed from Double A ball and fell to the Red Sox, 4-3.

Righthander Anthony Ranaudo, with scores of relatives and friends from New Jersey in the yard, held the Yankees to two runs and four hits and got away with four walks, three of them leading off innings, over six innings to earn a victory in his major-league debut. Another rookie, center fielder Mookie Betts, applied a rally-killing play in the eighth when the Yanks threatened to tie the score. After Derek Jeter homered leading off the inning against Junichi Tazawa, Jacoby Ellsbury hit a drive to his old center field stomping grounds where Betts now roams and made a diving, one-handed catch and slid across the warning track. That play was amplified when Mark Teixeira followed with a double to left field. Tex got to third base with two out but was stranded as Chase Headley grounded out.

Headley was 0-for-4 at the plate, but he made three dazzling plays at third base in Graig Nettles-like style. Newcomer Stephen Drew, shortstop by trade, did a nice job in his first big-league shot at second base and took part in a pair of double plays. Martin Prado arrived in Boston just before game time and entered as a pinch hitter in the seventh and remained in the game in right field where he is expected to play most often. He was 0-for-2.

Carlos Beltran continued his hot streak by driving in two runs. He homered leading off the fourth against Ranaudo and touched the rookie for an RBI single in the sixth that scored Ellsbury, who set it up with a key steal of second base. Since returning from the 7-day concussion list July 18, Beltran leads the Yankees with a .373 batting average in 51 at-bats. He is hitting .329 with five home runs over his past 21 games and 82 at-bats. Beltran has an eight-game hitting streak during which he has hit .448 with three home runs and eight RBI in 29 at-bats. In 11 games at Boston this season, Beltran is batting .356 with five doubles and five home runs.

In his second start for the Yanks, Chris Capuano had a solid outing and pitched into the seventh. He had a rough third inning allowing two runs and four hits, three of them for extra bases, but he settled down after yielding a run in the fourth and retired nine batters in a row before Betts led off the seventh with a single to right. Brock Holt bunted Betts to second, and Dustin Pedroia got him home with a single to center that proved the deciding run.

It was another quiet night offensively for the Yankees, who have lost five of their past six games and dropped six games behind the first-place Orioles in the American League East. Boston’s recent trading off of pitchers Jon Lester and John Lackey indicated they have put up a white flag on the season, but they were not conceding anything Friday night.

Red Sox outlast Yanks to take series

You could feel the air come out of Yankee Stadium in the third inning Sunday night when David Ortiz blasted a 0-1 pitch from Chase Whitley into the right field bleachers for a three-run home run and a 4-0 Red Sox lead.

The Stadium crowd was pretty lively until that point but turned gloomy at the reality of seeing the offensive-struggling Yankees down that much early against as solid a pitcher as Boston’s John Lackey.

Whitley had given up a run in the second inning on a double by Mike Napoli and a one-out single by Stephen Drew, but it was the Ortiz bomb that spelled disaster for the Yankees. It was career homer No. 450 for Big Papi, who ranks 37th on the all-time list. The Yankees would have some fireworks of their own, however, to work themselves back into the game.

It began with a gift run in the bottom of the third. Ichiro Suzuki reached base on a throwing error by third baseman Brock Holt. After Ichiro stole second base, Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter put Lackey to work. Gardner grounded out at the end of a 10-pitch at-bat with Suzuki crossing to third. Jeter then pushed Lackey to 11 pitches, pushing a single to right field on the last one to get the Yankees on the board.

The fireworks came in the fourth as Mark Teixeira (No. 15) and Carlos Beltran (No. 8) took Lackey deep to make it a one-run game. That brought the crowd back into play, but Yankees fans were not pleased at all with what came next.

Whitley came out of the game after he walked Jackie Bradley Jr. to begin the fifth. Shawn Kelley was not any better. He walked Holt and Daniel Nava, which loaded the bases with no outs and no hits. Dustin Pedroia lofted a flare just over first base for a two-run single that also sent Nava to third base.

Lefthander David Huff came in to face Ortiz and kept him in the yard with a flyout to shallow left field. Huff picked Pedroia off first base, but the runner kept himself in a rundown long enough for Nava to cross the plate while the out was made at first base. Just like that, the Yankees were down by four runs again.

Whitley, who was called up from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in mid-May to pitch in the rotation after CC Sabathia went on the 15-day disabled list with right knee inflammation, did well in his first seven starts as he went 3-0 with a 2.56 ERA during that stretch. In his past two starts, however, the righthander has allowed 13 earned runs and 19 hits in 7 1/3 innings for a 15.95 ERA that has driven his season ERA to 4.70.

Unlike Saturday night’s 2-1 Boston victory, Sunday night was more like Yankees-Red Sox games we have come to know. The Yankees got two runs back in the bottom of the fifth on a triple by Suzuki, a double by Gardner and two infield outs.

Ichiro’s triple was a drive to right on which rookie Mookie Betts attempted a diving catch only to have the ball bounce past him. Ichiro’s 40-year-old legs got to third base, but there was a time he would have made it all the way home on such a hit.

Betts was playing in his first major-league game. He got his first hit, a single, in the fourth. I am amused at the idea of a player named Mookie with the Red Sox. Baseball’s only other Mookie — Wilson — broke Sox fans hearts with his tapper past first baseman Bill Buckner that won Game 6 of the 1986 World Series for the Mets. It turns out that Mookie Betts was not named after Wilson but after Mookie Blaylock, his mother’s favorite NBA player.

The Yankees finally got a pitcher who threw strikes consistently when Dellin Betances entered the game in the sixth and inherited a bases-loaded, no-outs situation. The Red Sox got minimal damage with one run on a sacrifice fly by Pedroia after Nava struck out. Betances won the battle against Ortiz, who grounded out to second.

Pushed to 96 pitches, Lackey was gone after the fifth. The Yanks lost a scoring opportunity in the sixth against Burke Bradenhop when Carlos Beltran, who had doubled with one out, was thrown out at the plate by Bradley on a single to center by Kelly Johnson.

In the seventh, Betances struck out Napoli with a high fastball. What an idiot.

Napoli did not fare any better in the ninth when he was called out on strikes against Jose Ramirez. By then, the die had been cast. Boston was polishing off an 8-5 victory saved by Koji Uehara. The Red Sox took the series, two games to one, as the Yankees once again failed to capitalize on Toronto and Baltimore both losing and remained in third place in the American League East. They also fell to 6-6 in the stretch of 15 games against AL East competition that concludes with the three-game set against the Rays starting Monday night at the Stadium.

Tanaka bested by Lester in classic pitching duel

Does anyone actually think Masahiro Tanaka should not have pitched the ninth inning for the Yankees Saturday night? I mean, really? Talk about severe second guessing. Yankees manager Joe Girardi was asked why he did not have David Robertson pitch the ninth instead of Tanaka.

Look, if Girardi knew that Tanaka was going to give up a solo home run to Mike Napoli on a ball that barely cleared the right field wall on a 1-2 pitch, then, sure, he would rather have D-Rob out there. But, come on, Tanaka was pitching a gem, deserved a better fate and certainly did not deserve his manager having to be grilled for staying with his best pitcher.

Yes, this one hurt, a 2-1 loss to the Red Sox for the Yankees, who failed to take advantage of Toronto and Baltimore both losing earlier in the day. But as good as Tanaka was, Red Sox starter Jon Lester was slightly better.

For one thing, Lester kept the ball in the yard. Both the runs off Tanaka were on solo homers. The other was by catcher David Ross in the third inning. If a pitcher is going to give up home runs, let them be with nobody on base. You hear that all the time, so cut Tanaka some slack.

Look at what he did in the fourth inning when Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz scorched him for a single and double, respectively. Strikeout, strikeout, groundout to the next three batters, slamming the door.

The Yankees’ only run off Lester was unearned due to an error by Boston shortstop Stephen Drew in the bottom of the third. Lester took a no-hitter into the sixth, withstood three singles that inning and continued to keep the Yankees off balance.

For a wild moment there in the eighth, it appeared as if the Yanks had taken the lead. Jacoby Ellsbury seemed to have stolen second base, continued to third on an errant throw by Ross and then headed for the plate that was uncovered. What Ellsbury and most of the people in the Yankee Stadium sellout crowd of 48,433 did not know was that the pitch Ellsbury stole on was a called third strike by plate umpire Andy Fletcher on Mark Teixeira.

The Red Sox did hit Tanaka hard in the ninth. Pedroia led off the inning with his third hit, a line single to center. Ortiz hit a blistering one-hopper gloved by third baseman Yangervis Solarte on the overshift that became a double play. Tanaka got two strikes on Napoli only to lose the battle when the Boston first baseman hit an opposite-field homer. Koji Uehara closed it out for the Red Sox with a 1-2-3 ninth for his 17th save.

Tanaka has lost consecutive starts for the first time this season. His three complete games are the most for a Yankees rookie since 1998 when Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez had the same total. It was a tough loss for Tanaka, but I for one applaud the manager for leaving him in the game.

Dueling video reviews

With help from a video review, Red Sox lefthander Jon Lester still had a no-hitter through five innings Saturday night. Although the Yankees had a run on the board, they had yet to get a hit when Yangervis Solarte appeared to have broken up Lester’s bid with an infield single with two outs in the bottom of the fifth.

It was an official scorer’s nightmare for Howie Karpin, who ruled the play a single. Solarte hit a dribbler near the third base line. Boston third baseman Zander Bogaerts made a nifty, bare-handed pickup, but his throw to first base was in the dirt. First baseman Mike Napoli stretched for the throw and made a nice scoop, but first base umpire Mark Wegner called Solarte safe.

Karpin was forced to credit Solarte with a hit because of the degree of difficulty Bogaerts had in making the fielding play. It all became incidental when Red Sox manager John Farrell asked for a review. Video replays clearly showed that Napoli’s foot was on the bag before Solarte reached first base, so Wegner’s call was overturned keeping Lester’s no-no in place for the time being.

The Yankees came right back in the sixth with a review request of their own when Dustin Pedroia led off with an apparent double. That call was also overturned when replays showed that Pedroia slid into the tag of second baseman Brian Roberts.

Lester’s no-hit bid did not last for long. Brett Gardner led off the sixth with a ground single through the middle for the Yankees’ first hit. Gardner was quickly erased when thrown out attempting to steal second base. Derek Jeter and Jacoby Ellsbury restarted the rally with singles, but Mark Teixeira flied out and Carlos Beltran struck out.

The Yankees had scored in the third inning without a hit. Shortstop Stephen Drew bobbled a grounder by Roberts for an error, and Lester hit Solarte with a pitch. Gardner advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt. Roberts scored as Jeter grounded out to shortstop. Solarte crossed to third base but was stranded as Ellsbury also grounded out to short.

The Red Sox had gotten on the board in the top of the third on a solo home run by David Ross. Masahiro Tanaka showed off a good slider and splitter, but in the fourth Boston hit him hard with Pedroia lining a single to right and David Ortiz almost decapitating Pedroia with another liner to right for a double. Tanaka held firm, however. He struck out Napoli and Drew and retired Bogaerts on an infield grounder.

Aggressive play on bases proves costly

The Yankees ran themselves out of a potentially big inning in the first Sunday night and did so with two of their best base runners. Carlos Beltran, who singled with one out, was at third base and Jacoby Ellsbury, who followed with a double, was on second when Alfonso Soriano hit a fly ball to center field.

It appeared to be a routine sacrifice fly as Beltran trotted toward the plate. As it turned out, it would have been better if Beltran ran a bit harder. Ellsbury also tried to tag up, and that was where the run was lost.

Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. made a strong throw to third base that cut down Ellsbury before Beltran crossed the plate, nullifying the run the Yankees thought they had. In hindsight, Ellsbury might have been better off staying at second base. That way, Beltran would have scored easily with Bradley throwing to third base. Yet aggressiveness on the bases is a big part of Ellsbury’s game. It took a perfect throw to get him. Bradley unfortunately unleashed one.

While the Yankees were playing without Derek Jeter, the Red Sox were without their spark plug, second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who returned to Boston to have his painful left wrist examined. Pedroia jammed the wrist last week. The condition worsened to the point that he could not complete batting practice before the game and was scratched from the lineup.

Sabathia suffers birthday blues

In the future, CC Sabathia might be better served if he took his birthday off. Sabathia, who turned 33 Sunday, has made four starts in his career on his birthday and has yet to win. As a birthday boy, Sabathia is 0-2 with two no-decisions and a 7.48 ERA in 21 2/3 innings.

The lefthander got an early birthday present from his teammates, who took a 3-0 lead off Ryan Dempster in the first two innings. Sabathia gave it back and more, however, when the Red Sox scored four runs in the third on an RBI single by Dustin Pedroia and a long, three-run home run by Mike Napoli off a 1-2 fastball.

An inning later, Sabathia hit the leadoff batter and gave up three straight singles that resulted in two more runs for Boston. Jonny Gomes led off the fifth with a towering home run, the career-high 23rd off CC this year. Sabathia lasted one batter into the sixth but got one more birthday gift from his teammates when they rallied to tie the score in the seventh and get him off the hook.

But Sabathia could not be pleased with having squandered the early lead and failing to post a winning decision for the third straight start, a stretch during which he has allowed 13 earned runs in 18 innings (6.50 ERA) with 24 hits allowed, including five home runs. Sabathia’s record stayed at 9-8, but his ERA rose to 4.37. His career record at Fenway Park is 3-4 with a 4.93 ERA.