Seemingly on their way to falling out of playoff position for the first time in nearly four months, the Boston Red Sox rallied late to snap their road losing streak and maintain control of the AL wild-card race.
They’ll try to build on that lead with their fifth win in six games Saturday night against the Texas Rangers, who know they missed an opportunity by dropping the series opener.
Boston (66-49) entered the ninth inning trailing 4-2 on Friday night but scored six runs in the final frame, including five with two outs, to snap a six-game road skid with an 8-4 victory.
“When you think you’ve seen everything, you probably haven’t come close,” manager Terry Francona said. “That was probably one of the more exciting innings I’ve been a part of.”
Francona hopes his club can carry some momentum into Saturday’s contest as it tries to create some separation in the wild-card race. In danger of falling out of playoff position for the first time since April 21 on Friday, the Red Sox instead pulled 1 1/2 games ahead of the Rangers.
Before Friday’s collapse, Texas (64-50) had won 72 straight games at home when leading after eight innings, a streak dating to September 2007. Despite what looked like a disheartening defeat, the Rangers claim they’re not dwelling on it.
“It doesn’t really affect us,” said third baseman Michael Young(notes), who had a two-run homer and three RBIs. “We have so much confidence in the back end of our bullpen. It’s a fluke when this happens.”
The Rangers didn’t need their bullpen last time Derek Holland(notes) (5-7, 5.04 ERA) took the mound. The rookie left-hander, who will start Saturday, finished his first shutout Sunday, limiting the Los Angeles Angels to three hits while striking out eight and never allowing a runner to advance past first base in the 7-0 victory.
Holland improved to 2-2 with a 3.23 ERA in five starts since the All-Star break.
“He’s figuring it out,” said Rangers outfielder Marlon Byrd(notes), who homered and drove in three runs in Holland’s complete game. “He’s got good stuff, and he’s only getting better. We knew he would be good, but to be this good, this early, it’s exciting.”
In his one previous start against Boston, Holland gave up four runs in 4 2-3 innings and suffered an 8-1 road loss June 6.
Penny is 1-2 with a 4.26 ERA in three starts against the Rangers. He gave up five runs in 5 2-3 innings of a 5-1 loss to them June 5.
Texas outfielder Andruw Jones(notes), batting .224 with 17 homers in 68 games this year, is 15 for 45 (.333) with six homers, three doubles and 10 strikeouts in his career against Penny. Young is 5 for 10 against him.
The Red Sox acquired shortstop Alex Gonzalez from Cincinnati on Friday. It’s unclear if he’ll be ready to debut with his new club Saturday.