Sox outlast D-backs in extras
Lowell's sacrifice fly in 10th inning plates game-winner
PHOENIX -- Pinched out of the lineup for a night because the Red Sox were without the designated hitter in the National League venue of Chase Field, Mike Lowell waited around for more than three hours before finally getting his chance.
Serving as a pinch-hitter in the top of the 10th inning, Lowell stepped up with the bases loaded and one out and promptly gave the Red Sox just what they needed. His sacrifice fly to right scored a lumbering David Ortiz from third, serving as the difference in Boston's 4-3 victory over the Diamondbacks on Saturday night.
"I just battled and tried to pull the ball in play hard," said Lowell. "And just praying for David to get those choppy steps going."
Ortiz was the reason Lowell wasn't in the lineup. Without the DH, the star slugger played first, with Kevin Youkilis -- who sat Friday night -- occupying Lowell's position on the other side of the diamond. Sunday, it will be Ortiz's turn to sit with Youkilis and Lowell both starting against Randy Johnson.
Perhaps Ortiz's legs will appreciate the rest after his 90-foot sprint home.
"David's a good baserunner," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He doesn't have Maury Wills' speed. But he gets himself in position. He understands the game. He's carrying a lot, that's a big kid out there. But he can run the bases when he needs to."
As for Lowell, he was making the most of his down-time so he could the most of it when opportunity finally knocked.
"It felt great, bringing in the run," said Lowell. "It proved to be good enough. It's a totally different mentality. Starting in about the sixth inning, you're going down trying to get loose. It's nice that we have our own cage here, so you can take some swings and stuff. But I was loose, I was ready."
It was a satisfying win for the Red Sox, who methodically chipped their way out of an early 3-0 deficit.
Jason Varitek delivered two key hits to set up the extra frame. His two-run homer in the sixth whittled Arizona's lead to one. And Varitek's RBI double to center off former teammate Brandon Lyon in the eighth scored J.D. Drew from first to tie it.
It was Okajima who earned the win, going two hitless innings to lower his ERA to 1.14.
Then, in the 10th, Ortiz drew a leadoff walk against Juan Cruz. Youkilis and Drew followed with singles up the middle to load them up. Varitek struck out, but Lowell got the job done.
"Knowing Mikey, he stretched, he hit, he was in the cage, that's the kind of guy he is," Francona said. "He handles his responsibility, whatever it is, to the best he can. That's pretty impressive. That's the kind of professional he is."
Jonathan Papelbon came on for save No. 14 by holding Arizona scoreless in the bottom of the 10th. It was the first appearance in six games on this road trip for Papelbon, who was last seen giving up a game-winning homer to Alex Rodriguez at Fenway Park last Sunday night.
The Diamondbacks struck first, getting an RBI double to right in the second off the bat of Miguel Montero. Then, in the fourth, starter Julian Tavarez made his only big mistake of the night, surrendering a two-run homer to right off the bat of Stephen Drew that sailed right over the head of brother J.D. and into the seats.
"I tried to come inside and I left it over the plate," Tavarez said. "That's how it goes. I just put it behind me and went after the next hitter. Give my teammates a chance to come back and score some runs. I did and they came back and that was huge."
Tavarez turned in a quality start, yielding six hits and three runs over six innings, walking one and striking out five.
"He goes out there and he keeps us in games," Francona said. "Sometimes it looks like he bends but doesn't break. I think guys like playing behind him and he likes pitching and he gives us a chance."
And after losing the first three games on this seven-game journey, the Red Sox are now just a Daisuke Matsuzaka victory away from going home with a winning record, not to mention a three-game sweep of the Diamondbacks.
"It's a great win," Lowell said. "Especially if we can close it out [Sunday], we can really end the road trip on a good note after starting a way we didn't want to start."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.