Pedroia goes to bat for Papi

BOSTON -- Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia offered a spirited, and colorful, defense of David Ortiz on a night that the slump-ridden slugger struck out twice and hit into two double plays, the second with the bases loaded in the eighth inning that nearly short-circuited Boston’s winning rally.

Adrian Beltre walked to reload the bases in the eighth, and Jeremy Hermida’s fly ball dropped behind Wall-challenged outfielder Juan Rivera for a tie-breaking, three-run double, spurring the Red Sox to their second straight win over the Angels, 5-1.

Afterward, Pedroia was in rare form when asked if he felt sorry for Ortiz.

“David’s fine,’’ he said. “He’s one of our teammates. It could have been me who hit into a double play. It happens to everybody. He’s had 60 at-bats." Ortiz actually has 67.

"A couple of years ago I had 60 at-bats and I was hitting .170 and everybody was ready to kill me too. What happened? Laser show.

“I’m tired of looking at the NESN poll, why David’s struggling. David’s fine. He’s one of our teammates. We believe in him. He came out of it last year, he’s going to come out of it this year.

“I’m going to go on line and vote on NESN.com. ‘Papi’s fine. Thanks for playing.’’’