BOSTON -- Fittingly enough, the Boston Red Sox's most outspoken patriot came up clutch on the Fourth of July weekend.
Jonny Gomes came on to pinch hit to lead off the bottom of the ninth, and on the third pitch of his at-bat against Baltimore Orioles reliever T.J. McFarland, Gomes slapped one to the left side of the infield, sprinting down the first-base line to beat the throw from short by a step.
David Ross' sacrifice moved Gomes to second, and then pinch hitter Jonathan Herrera came through with the heroics on the next at-bat. Facing a 1-0 count, the switch-hitting Herrera took McFarland's two-seamer opposite field into right-center. Gomes dove across home plate as Adam Jones' throw home wasn't in time.
Jonny on the spot: This one will go down as a no-decision for Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester, but he continued his run of strong starts with a terrific outing this afternoon. Working both sides of the plate, Lester gave up five hits in eight innings of work, striking out seven, walking none and allowing two unearned runs. He threw 118 pitches, 83 of them for strikes.
Lester has had some mixed history with two of Baltimore's most-feared power hitters. Entering Saturday, Nelson Cruz was a career .458/.519/1.000 in 24 at-bats against Lester, while Chris Davis was a paltry .111/.172/.296 in 27 at-bats with nine strikeouts.
Davis continued his woes, fanning twice to end up 3-for-30 for his career against Lester. But most impressive was Lester's battles with Cruz, who ranks among the major league leaders in home runs and RBIs. Cruz finished 0-for-4 against Lester. In the top of the first, Lester jammed Cruz with a 3-2 four-seamer inside for a soft 5-3 putout.
In the third, he got Cruz looking at a four-seamer away. He went away again in the sixth, getting him to chase at a four-seamer that went opposite field but died near the warning track in right. In the eighth, Cruz grounded into a pretty 6-4-3 double play turned by Stephen Drew.
More timely hitting woes: The Sox plated two runs off of six hits in the first two innings, then were left helpless for the next four as they went cold, going down in order four straight times before a two-out Jackie Bradley Jr. single in the bottom of the seventh broke the slump. Most glaring was A.J. Pierzynski, who took the designated-hitter role in place of David Ortiz. All four of his at-bats ended in popouts, three of them in foul territory; after the fourth one, he received a loud chorus of boos from the Fenway crowd.
Koji time: Koji Uehara came up crucial in the ninth inning, the 10th time this year he's entered the game with a tied score, mowing down the meat of Baltimore's order in succession. After ringing up Adam Jones to lead off, he whiffed Davis on a two-seamer for his third strikeout of the day, then he jammed Hardy with a splitter for a 6-3 groundout to end the game.
Bogaerts' slump continues: Has Xander Bogaerts hit the dreaded rookie wall? Things appear that way after the promising youngster had another forgettable day at the plate and on the field. With today's 0-for-4 performance at the plate, he has now gone hitless in 27 straight at-bats. Most notably, he came up empty in the bottom of the eighth. After Mike Napoli and Dustin Pedroia advanced on a wild pitch, Bogaerts stared at a called third strike. In the field, he made an egregious error from third base, booting a 5-3 attempt to allow two Orioles runners to score.
Drew puts on a show: You weren't dreaming. Yes, that was Stephen Drew and his .147 batting average going deep today off of Miguel Gonzalez for his first homer of the year. Drew led off the bottom of the second inning by turning on Gonzalez's first pitch, a 93 mph two-seamer, and planting it in the visitor's bullpen behind right field. For Drew, it was his first homer since Game 6 of last year's World Series, when his solo shot helped clinch Boston's third title in 10 years.
On the defensive side, Drew turned a sweet double play. Chasing a Cruz grounder up the middle, Drew slid to his left and flipped the ball to Pedroia, who fired to first to end the top of the eighth inning.