Drew’s dramatic homer lifts Bosox to 70th win

Add another dramatic win to Boston’s 2013 season. Trailing 5-4 in the ninth, Stephen Drew slammed a three-run homer off Houston closer Josh Shields to propel the Red Sox to a 7-5 come-from-behind victory Wednesday night. Junichi Tazawa picked up the win in relief of Boston starter Ryan Dempster while closer Koji Uehara struck out the side in Houston’s half of the ninth to pick up his 11th save in 14 tries. With the win Boston becomes the first American League team to reach 70 victories this season; Atlanta likewise has 70 wins in the National League. The decision also helped Boston take the series two games to one over the Astros and maintain at least a 1.5 game lead over Tampa in the tight A.L. East race.

David Ortiz began Boston’s ninth inning by stroking his fourth single of the game, the second night in a row Ortiz singled four times. Pitcher Drake Britton pinch ran for Ortiz and moved to second on a walk to Jonny Gomes, setting the stage for Drew’s ninth round-tripper of the year, a laser shot over the right field wall.

Boston grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the second when Brick Holt registered a fielder’s choice RBI, scoring Jonny Gomes who lead off the inning with a walk. The Red Sox made it 2-0 an inning later. Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz singled with Pedroia coming home to score on Mike Carp’s fielder’s choice RBI. Ortiz strung out the play to avoid a double play long enough to permit Pedroia to cross the plate.

Houston struck back quickly in the bottom of the third. Jake Elmore reached Dempster for a double and Robbie Grossman followed with a towering two-run homer to right center to tie the score at 2-2.

Boston squandered a prime opportunity to bust the game open in the top of the sixth when Astro’s pitchers walked the bases loaded. But Houston escaped the jam when reliever Wesley Wright caught Ellsbury looking for a third called strike for the second out of the frame and fellow reliever got Shane Victorino to strike out on a check swing to end the threat. Moments later Victorino was ejected from the Red Sox dugout for chirping at third base umpire Brian Knight who ruled his check swing was strike three.

Houston promptly cashed in for three runs in the bottom of the sixth. Robbie Grossman doubled off Dempster, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored one run on Jose Altuve’s RBI single off the glove of Boston third baseman Brock Holt. Altuve scored on Jason Castro’s double into the right field corner and Castro came home on a SacFly by Marc Krauss to make it 5-2 Houston.

Boston mounted a threat in the top of the seventh with some two out magic. Mike Carp drilled a single to right and Jonny Gomes crushed his 10th home run of the year over the left field fence to draw Boston within 5-4.
Ortiz’s third single of the game Wednesday marked the 9th time this season he has collected three hits in a game, and was a follow-up to his four-for-four performance Tuesday night against the Astros, all singles.

Dempster once again did not factor in a pitching decision, going six innings, yielding 5 runs on 7 hits while walking none and striking out 7. Tazawa pitched two scoreless innings of relief for Boston to help push the Red Sox to a season best 24 games over .500 at 70-46.

(Bosox Medical Front) Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli got encouraging news from his latest MRI related to his hip condition. Taken on July 21, the MRI indicated no further hip deterioration for the veteran who suffers from avascular nerosis, a condition that restricts blood flow to the hip joints. The medical situation played a big role in his final contract agreement with the Red Sox heading into the season. Leading into Wednesday night’s game against Houston, the last time Boston will see the Astros this year, Napoli was hitting .251 with 58 runs scored, 96 hits, 28 doubles, 2 triples, 14 home runs 48 walks and 64 RBI. He is on pace, however, to exceed 200 strike outs, with a current total of 147 on the year.

Lefty reliever Matt Thorton, who strained a right oblique in his last appearance, threw off flat ground Tuesday and reported progress. How much better he feels by Thursday will determine a roster move that may force him to the DL.
John Lackey, who deserved better than the “L” he received when the Red Sox were shut out 2-0 in the series opener earlier this week against the Astros, reports he will be ready for his next start despite a swollen ankle. Lackey rolled his ankle badly in the second inning of his start, but remained in the game to gut out seven innings.

(Bosox Up Next) Boston continues its current road trip Thursday, opening a four-game series at Kansas City. Lefty Jon Lester gets the call and will try to bounce back in the series opener against the Royals. Lester, (10-6, ERA 4.52), lasted just 4-and-one third innings last Friday against Arizona, yielding six runs on 11 hits. He will face Royals southpaw Bruce Chen, 4-0 on the year with an impressive 2.03 ERA.

(Red Sox Perspective) What a difference a year makes. Boston entered Wednesday’s game against Houston with a record of 69-46, tying the team’s best 2013 won/loss ratio at 23 games over .500. On August 4 of the dismal 2012 season, the Red Sox were a pedestrian 53-55 and not much better 10 days later at 57-60. In August of 2012 Boston finished the month with a paltry 9 wins against 20 losses. Thus far, through the first six days of August, the Red Sox have already registered 4 wins against 2 losses. Never too early to mount your campaign for John Ferrell for American League Manager of the Year.


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