BOSTON -- Takeaways from the Fens, where the long New England nightmare is finally over.
After eight failed previous attempts to reach the .500 mark, the defending world champion Red Sox can now proudly declare they have won as many games as they have lost in 2014. The Sox are now 17-17.
The result: It wasn't easy -- of course, it wasn't easy -- but the Sox came from behind to beat the Cincinnati Reds 4-3, their second one-run win by that score over their National League cousins in two nights. And for the second straight night, a struggling Sox hitter came through with a late-inning hit that might give him a much-needed lift.
Middlebrooks delivers: In 14 previous at-bats, third baseman Will Middlebrooks had grounded out nine times, whiffed three times and had two line-drive singles. Wednesday, he'd grounded out to short in the third, hit into an inning-ending double play in the fifth and walked in the seventh. His batting average was down to .200, a drop of 94 percentage points since his first game back from the disabled list.
But Middlebrooks, in a duel with Reds reliever J.J. Hoover, laid off some tough pitches to work a full count, fouled off another tough pitch, then hit a hard shot up the middle for the single that scored Jonny Gomes with the go-ahead run.
The decisive rally: Mike Napoli, who has reached base in a career-best 28 straight games, drew a one-out walk from Reds left-handed reliever Manny Parra. When manager John Farrell sent up Gomes to hit for Grady Sizemore, Reds manager Bryan Price countered with right-hander Hoover. Gomes spoiled that strategy by drawing another walk.
A.J. Pierzynski then hit a ball that one-hopped the low wall along the right-field foul line for a ground-rule double, and Napoli scored the tying run. Rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. was issued an intentional walk to load the bases, and Middlebrooks followed with his base hit.
Customary Koji: Reliever Koji Uehara, who has been something less than his ninja self in recent outings, returned to form in a big way, striking out the side in the ninth to record his eighth save.
BresloWW: Reliever Craig Breslow, who hadn't won a game before this series, was credited with his second win in two nights after pitching a scoreless eighth. The highlight of that inning for the left-hander was inducing the dangerous Joey Votto to ground into a double play after issuing a leadoff walk to Skip Schumaker.
Perils of Peavy: Jake Peavy pitched into the seventh and gave up just four hits but was charged with three runs, two scoring on Skip Schumaker's home run in the third. Peavy departed with the bases loaded and none out in the seventh. One run scored on Roger Bernadina's chopper off lefty Chris Capuano before Burke Badenhop recorded two more ground ball outs to limit the damage.
RISP, not R.I.P.: Three singles, the last by David Ortiz, and a double by Napoli drew the Sox even at two in the sixth before the Reds took the lead again.