The Boston Red Sox are hoping the smallest player on their roster just ended their biggest slump of the season.
After Dustin Pedroia helped awaken their slumbering offense, the Red Sox seek a second straight victory over the San Francisco Giants when the teams continue their three-game interleague set Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park.
Pedroia, a rookie second baseman who is listed at 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, hit a two run-homer in the first inning of Friday night’s series opener and finished with five hits and five RBIs - both career bests - as the Red Sox routed the Giants 10-2. The 10 runs equaled Boston’s output from the previous five contests, three of which were losses.
The Red Sox (42-24) had lost nine of their last 14 games before Friday, causing their AL East lead over New York to shrink from 14 1/2 games to 7 1/2 in just more than two weeks. After the Yankees lost 2-0 to the New York Mets on Friday, Boston’s lead inched back up to 8 1/2 games.
Pedroia is batting .417 over his last 32 games to raise his average from .172 to .331.
“The first month of the season, we spent so much time trying to defend him. He wasn’t hitting,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “But he plays the ball all over the ballpark. And, man, he makes contact. There’s a lot of things in his favor.”
The Red Sox got an umpiring call in their favor in the top of the first inning, when Giants (30-36) slugger Barry Bonds hit a fly ball that went above the Pesky Pole in right field. After a brief hesitation, first base umpire Charlie Reliford waved the ball foul and Bonds remained stuck at 747 career home runs - eight shy of Hank Aaron’s all-time record.
“He said it was clear in his mind,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Reliford. “It was one of those where it was so high. I think if you ask everybody, it might have been one of those 50-50 deals. Some probably thought it was fair, some thought it was foul. He was right there.”
Bonds finished 1-for-3 with a single and a walk in his first career game at Boston. Including a home interleague series in 2004, he has never homered against the Red Sox.
After playing his first game at Fenway Park on Friday, Bonds will face a new pitcher on Saturday in Daisuke Matsuzaka (7-5, 4.52 ERA). The Japanese rookie right-hander is trying to avoid losing his fourth straight start after a personal six-game winning streak.
Not all of the losing streak has been Matsuzaka’s fault, as he’s received just three runs of support over his last three outings. At Arizona on Sunday, he yielded just two runs and four hits over six innings while walking four and striking out nine, but got outpitched by Randy Johnson in a 5-1 defeat.
Giants starter Matt Cain (2-6, 3.31) is also suffering from a lack of run support. The 22-year-old right-hander is 0-3 despite a 3.51 ERA over his last five starts as the San Francisco offense has scored only nine runs for him in that span.
Cain limited Oakland to one run and five hits in seven innings Sunday, but took the tough-luck loss in a 2-0 defeat.
Friday’s loss was the second straight and fifth in seven games for the Giants, who are an NL-worst 6-14 since May 25.
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