06/18/08 6:03 PM ET
Drew stays hot, propels Sox past Phils
First-inning three-run homer among right fielder's four hits
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
The moral of the story, however, is that the Red Sox had enough healthy bodies to field a team. And these days, that's all the defending World Series champions seem to need.
The lineups are interchangeable, but the wins keep coming. The Sox took the rubber match of this three-game series at Citizens Bank Park, riding the ridiculously hot bat of J.D. Drew and the vibrant young arm of Justin Masterson to a 7-4 victory over the Phillies.
Nobody has played a bigger role in the recent success of the Sox than Drew. Since replacing Ortiz in the No. 3 spot in the batting order, the right fielder has been downright Big Papi-esque. Drew went 4-for-5, including an early three-run homer, to lead the Boston bats.
"It's pretty impressive," said Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell, who aided the win by following Drew for back-to-back shots in the first. "It's come at a really nice time for us. Any time you don't have Manny, David and Youk, and then Coco comes out and we put seven runs on the board, it says that a lot of guys are picking up the slack and doing their job."
The Red Sox are 46-29 after winning eight of their past 11 games. And even more significant is that they finished with their first winning road trip (4-2) since April 14-17, when they took three out of four in a mini-trip through Cleveland and New York.
Befitting the recent theme of the Red Sox, Masterson is another guy who has been thrust into more responsibility thanks to injury. Though Masterson clearly didn't have his best stuff in this one, he got the job done in place of Daisuke Matsuzaka, who will return from the disabled list on Saturday.
Matsuzaka's return doesn't mean Masterson's stint is over. With Bartolo Colon being placed on the disabled list on Tuesday, Masterson will stick around for a couple of more weeks, at least. He looks like a man who doesn't ever want to pitch in the Minor Leagues again.
"I was feeling good before David [Ortiz] went down, and I'm just continuing to do that and not trying to change and become David Ortiz. I play a little bit of a different game. I just try to keep everything simple."|
|-- J.D. Drew|
"I thought he was a little bit inconsistent with his arm slot, which created a lot of pitches for five innings," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "But he competed like he always does. He made some real good pitches when he needed to."
All in all, it was a relaxing afternoon for the Sox, who got a three-run blast from Drew in the first and had a 7-1 lead by the fourth inning.
In fact, Masterson had a 4-0 lead before he threw a pitch.
"It's awesome," Masterson said. "It gives you that extra confidence. It's always nice to pitch when you have the lead. I thought it would allow me that ability to pound the zone. Unfortunately, I was throwing a few more balls than I wanted."
As for Drew, his streak has been eye-popping. With 10 more games before the calendar turns to July, Drew is hitting .441 this month, with nine homers and 21 RBIs.
"He's been right smack in the middle of the order, and he's just been phenomenal," Francona said. "He took beautiful swings today. And again, he's right in the middle of our rallies and he's creating rallies. It's been huge for us. While David has not been in there, J.D. has stepped right in and been tremendous."
Despite the torrid display of hitting, Drew has maintained his low-key demeanor.
"I was feeling good before David went down, and I'm just continuing to do that and not trying to change and become David Ortiz," said Drew. "I play a little bit of a different game. I just try to keep everything simple."
This game itself got complicated for a bit after Masterson's exit. Craig Hansen came on in the seventh and faced three hitters without getting any of them out. It was suddenly a 7-4 game.
But Manny Delcarmen came on and rescued Hansen, working two near-perfect innings (one walk, two strikeouts, no hits). Delcarmen has been highly dependable in recent weeks after a slow start to the season.
"He was commanding three pitches," Francona said. "He's got a good fastball and a changeup that he can throw to right-handers that you don't always see from right-handers. He's got a good breaking ball."
In the ninth, Papelbon came on for save No. 21, retiring all three batters he faced.
Just like that, the Red Sox were finished with their road trip and are ready to return to Fenway Park, where they are 28-7 this season.
"J.D. is definitely stepping it up," said Delcarmen. "Coco has been swinging the bat well, everybody is doing what they have to do right now to make the team better. Once we get David back and everybody will be healthy, it's going to be a pretty good season."
As if it isn't already.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.