Youkilis provides more walk-off drama
Scutaro's heads-up baserunning sets stage for Sox's victory
BOSTON -- The walk-off sequel was set up by, of all things, a tag-up from first. With the misery of a five-game losing streak over, the Red Sox have made some dramatic things happen the past two nights at Fenway Park.
Quite simply, they've needed to, because Wednesday night was the seventh successive game the Red Sox have played from behind. For the second consecutive night, they came storming back, this time riding a walk-off double off the Green Monster by Kevin Youkilis en route to an 8-7 victory over the Rangers in 12 innings.
But before it got to Youkilis, Marco Scutaro set the winning rally in motion with a one-out single through the hole and into left. Scutaro then made what was the pivotal play of the game, tagging up from first on a fly ball by J.D. Drew that was hit to fairly deep center, yet didn't quite reach the warning track.
"I'm just trying to make something happen," said Scutaro. "As soon as I see J.D. hit the ball, I knew the ball wasn't gone, but was kind of deep enough to try to take an extra base. It was one of those plays where it's do or die. You're trying to make something happen. Like I say, it's one of those plays where if you make it, everyone's happy. If you don't make it, a lot of people are going to be mad."
Scutaro just slid in safely, surprising Rangers center fielder Julio Borbon, who does not have a strong arm.
"I wasn't in a good position to make the throw," said Borbon. "He caught me off-guard. That's on me. The throw wasn't all that bad, but if I was able to get behind it, he would have been out or it would have been closer."
With Dustin Pedroia at the plate and first base open, the Rangers issued an intentional walk, putting the game in the hands of Youkilis. The logic of Texas manager Ron Washington was sound, considering Pedroia was 5-for-11 lifetime against Rangers reliever Dustin Nippert and Youkilis had been 0-for-5.
But Youkilis got ahead 3-0 and then ripped the 3-2 pitch off the Monster, giving the 6-9 Red Sox another chance to celebrate in the middle of the diamond.
"You've just got to battle, and this team is battling right now -- we've had some injuries, guys aren't playing up to the top of their game and it's still so early that there's time to figure things out," said Youkilis. "Guys are picking each other up and helping each other out."
This win came directly on the heels of a 7-6 thriller on Tuesday that ended with an unlikely hero (Darnell McDonald) scraping the Monster with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
It was the first time the Red Sox have had back-to-back walk-off wins since April 29-30, 2008, against the Blue Jays.
"They're valuable in the win column, they're valuable any way," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "That was a tough grinding win tonight. We'll take them any way we can get them. It would be nice to play with the lead, but if we end up with it, we'll take it."
The slumping Drew gave Boston a chance early, belting a grand slam in the bottom of the third that overturned a 4-1 deficit.
Just when the Red Sox thought they were in a comfortable position -- they had ace Josh Beckett on the mound with a 7-4 lead in the top of the seventh -- Josh Hamilton silenced Fenway with a game-tying three-run homer to center.
"It was a fastball right down the middle," said Beckett, who gave up seven hits, seven runs and five walks over seven innings. "I knew as soon as I threw it that it wasn't going to be a good outcome."
But Boston's bullpen picked Beckett up. Daniel Bard went two scoreless innings, punching out three. Closer Jonathan Papelbon also went a pair and kept the Rangers off the board. Hideki Okajima worked a scoreless 12th with two K's to earn the win.
"They were terrific," credited Francona. "We had Bard up and I felt good about Beckett. I thought he was maintaining his stuff. And as that ball was leaving the ballpark, I'm not feeling too good about myself."
Drew's grand slam was the fifth of his career, and it came against Texas starter Matt Harrison.
"J.D.'s swing got things going in a hurry," Francona said. "He stayed back enough and used his hands, and hit it right where we needed him to hit it. So that changed the game in a hurry."
The Rangers, who have lost six in a row, nearly tied it in the top of the fourth, but a potential sacrifice fly by Michael Young to center field turned into an inning-ending double play. McDonald's throw looked like it would be late, but catcher Jason Varitek blocked the plate well and tagged Borbon.
"I tried to stay in there as long as I could while the ball got there, and fortunately he slid headfirst," Varitek said.
McDonald, fresh off his heroics from Tuesday night, ripped a solo homer to center in the fourth to boost Boston's lead to two runs. McDonald became the first Red Sox player since Sam Horn (July 25-26, 1987) to homer in his first two games with the club. Mike Lowell (solo homer in the second) added an RBI single off the Monster to make it 7-4.
"Oh man, we'll take this anytime," said Lowell. "It's not really the way you want to script it, getting down by a bunch of runs, battling back, then giving up a three-run lead and still keeping it together and coming out with a victory. But I think you're going to have games like that during the regular season, where things go up and down, and as long as you can maintain your composure, you can come out on top -- and we did."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.