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Monday, June 23, 2008

Youk helps salvage one marathon game against the Cardinals

Down 2-0 going into the bottom of the seventh yesterday afternoon, the Red Sox looked like they were about to be swept by a pesky St. Louis Cardinals club at Fenway.

It took a long time to clinch it but after going ahead 3-2 in the ninth and seeing closer Jonathan Papelbon blow the save, the Red Sox (47-31) finally finished off the Cardinals (44-33) in the bottom of the 13th when Kevin Youkilis (3 RBIs, walk) hit a two-run shot over the Monster-his second homer of the day-to give Boston a 5-3 win.

After a 50-minute rain delay, the game ironically enough was a pitcher's duel between Jon Lester (7.1 innings, 9 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts) and former Sox bum Joel Pineiro (7 innings, 7 hits, 2 runs, 1 strikeout) before it turned into a battle of middle relievers.

Cards midget Aaron Miles was 5 for 6 (all singles) but didn't score a run. Adam Kennedy pinch hit and eventually finished 3 for 3 with an RBI.

For the Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia was 4 for 5 with a run and his eighth steal of the year (which is ridiculous because the guy is painfully slow). Mike Lowell was 3 for 5 with a run and an RBI.

Brian Barton doubled in Brendan Ryan to give St. Louis a 1-0 lead in the sixth. Ryan Ludwick knocked in Barton with a single.

Youk picked up his first homer in the seventh off Pineiro and the Sox tied it in the eighth when Coco Crisp (who had tripled when Rick Ankiel fell down in center field) scored on Julio Lugo's sacrifice fly. After Pedroia singled and stole second, J.D. Drew, Manny Ramirez and finally Mike Lowell each worked walks to score Pedroia.

Papelbon struck out Ankiel and Yadier Molina to start the ninth but walked Chris Duncan. Kennedy pinch hit at that point and delivered with an RBI double over Coco's head in center.

In extra innings, the teams traded perfect scoring opportunities with neither cashing in until the 13th. Boston put the lead-off man on base in each inning but couldn't push them across. St. Louis had Duncan thrown out at home by Drew in the top of the 13th with one out.

After Dice-K's disastrous start on Saturday (when he lasted 1 inning), Boston somehow got another great performance from numerous relievers yesterday. Manny Delcarmen struck out both men he faced. Hideki Okajima recorded five outs despite allowing four hits and a walk. Craig Hansen also got five outs but didn't allow a hit or walk and struck out three. Finally, Javier Lopez survived two hits to earn the win (2-0).

It was a memorable win after such a forgettable previous two games. The Sox' final interleague foe to come to Fenway this season will be the Arizona Diamondbacks. After such a hot start, the Diamondbacks have come back to earth (since they can't hit) but they still have one of the top rotations in the game. Evidence of that: Josh Beckett takes on Dan Haren tonight. Boston desperately needs Beckett to last deep into the game.

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