Red Sox 11, Rangers 6
BOSTON (AP)—Tony Graffanino was the surprising star when the two highest-scoring teams in baseball met Monday night.
“This was a lot of fun,” said Graffanino, who hit his first homer with Boston and fourth of the season. “I think it was a lot of fun for everybody, really, but I had a good time.”
Boston’s second baseman contributed with his hitting, fielding and running. He went 3-for-3 with a tiebreaking three-run homer in the fifth, drove in four runs, helped turn two double plays and slid ahead of two tags at home on a wild pitch and an infield single. He even was walked intentionally.
“This guy came in and has really helped solidify not just second base, but our ballclub,” manager Terry Francona said. “He gives us some aspects, like going first to third, taking an extra base.”
Jeremi Gonzalez (2-1) pitched 2 2-3 scoreless innings in relief of Wade Miller as Boston won for the 10th time in 12 games. Steve Karsay (0-1) allowed four runs in two innings in his second appearance for Texas.
David Ortiz hit his 26th homer, but Boston got unusual contributions from the bottom four spots in its lineup, which combined for nine of the team’s 12 hits. Graffanino, batting eighth, is hitting .333 for Boston. Kevin Millar, batting sixth, No. 7 Roberto Petagine and No. 9 Alex Cora each had two hits.
Texas manager Buck Showalter wasn’t surprised by Boston’s offense, even though its best hitters didn’t contribute a lot.
“Maybe with most lineups, but not with this one,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of good hitters sitting there.”
Boston led 4-3 after one inning, which wasn’t shocking since it leads the majors with 620 runs—six ahead of second-place Texas.
“Everybody kind of expects this series to be high-scoring,” Texas’ Michael Young said. “It’s tough to play the Red Sox here because they score a ton of runs.”
Graffanino scored three runs and has made it unlikely that Mark Bellhorn, on the disabled list since July 18 with a sprained left thumb, will reclaim his position when he’s healthy.
“I can’t control any of that stuff,” said Graffanino, who came close to signing with the Red Sox before last season, when they won the World Series, but felt he’d have a better chance to play in Kansas City.
“Obviously, if I would have known about the year that was going to happen last year, it would have been a no-brainer.”
After the wild first inning, the pitching improved and Texas tied the game at 5 in the fifth on Rod Barajas’ RBI single.
The Rangers’ first four batters of the game reached base. Boston answered by sending 10 batters to the plate and scoring four runs in the bottom half. Starter Ricardo Rodriguez faced the first nine and was replaced by James Baldwin.
Texas tied it in the second with an unearned run. With two outs and runners at first and third, first baseman Petagine let Mark Teixeira’s grounder through his legs, allowing Gary Matthews Jr. to score.
Graffanino played a key role in giving the Red Sox the lead again in the fourth against Baldwin, who had retired all seven batters he faced to that point. Graffanino and Cora singled with no outs and Ortiz walked, loading the bases.
Baldwin then threw a wild pitch and Graffanino slid in ahead of the tag, putting Boston ahead 5-4.
The Red Sox made it 11-5 in the seventh and the Rangers scored their last run on Blalock’s sacrifice fly in the eighth.
Boston 3B Bill Mueller was a late scratch from the lineup with back spasms. Cora, scheduled to start at shortstop, moved to third and Edgar Renteria, slated for a rare day off, started at shortstop. … Through the first five innings, each team had 10 hits. … Texas left at least one runner on base in each inning. … Johnny Damon has hit safely in 46 of 48 games.