ARLINGTON, Texas -- Waiting beside Coco Crisp's locker in the visiting clubhouse was a crush of reporters, anxious to hear Crisp's thoughts on his running, diving, game-saving catch to end the seventh inning. Crisp greeted them, smiled at the notion that their presence signaled a good day at the ballpark, and noted his preference for a good day and no questions to answer over a good day and a pack of media.
So, after slowly dressing, slowly donning his jewelry, and slowly packing his No. 10 duffel bag, Crisp politely declined to speak with those assembled, saying, "Thank you, though."
Quite a departure from the speed he used to recover from a bad initial move on a gap shot to right center by Frank Catalanotto with two on in the seventh, but the catch spurred on the Sox' efforts to retake the lead and claim a 6-5 series-sweeping win yesterday in front of 40,323.
"I broke the wrong way first because it was an outside pitch," Crisp did say as he rolled his suitcase away from his locker.
The ball, he ran down. The questions? He was willing to run away.
"The key was Coco's play there," said Joel Pineiro, the beneficiary of the eighth-inning comeback, as he took the win in relief of starter Julian Tavarez, who gave one of his best performances of the season. "He picked me up. He picked everybody up. That kind of gave us the momentum when we came back then, and scored those runs."
Two in the eighth, to be exact. After Kevin Youkilis led off the inning with his second single of the game and stole second, J.D. Drew singled to right, scoring Youkilis and tying the score. Mike Lowell followed with a single to left that brought Drew around, making it 5-4 Sox, and saddling Akinori Otsuka with a blown save.
Dustin Pedroia's solo homer in the ninth provided the eventual winning run.
Though Tavarez stifled the struggling Rangers' bats on one hit -- a leadoff single by Kenny Lofton -- over the first five innings, he encountered trouble in the sixth, giving up a 3-0 Sox lead on a booming three-run homer to Mark Teixeira. Tavarez walked Lofton and allowed a single to Michael Young, then Teixeira lofted one 453 feet and into the second deck in right, the fourth-longest home run hit in Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Manager Terry Francona said Tavarez decided to shake off catcher Jason Varitek on that pitch.
"One pitch, it changed the whole game," said Tavarez, who followed best buddy Manny Ramírez's slide into third Saturday night with the head-scratching play of yesterday, a bowling-like roll of the ball to Youkilis at first base for a 1-3 out in the fourth. "I left a slider right in the middle of the plate. You hang your pitches, it's going to be tough for you to win games. That pitch cost me the game right there. I let it fly away."
When the homer was followed by three straight singles, the Rangers had a 4-3 lead by the time J.C. Romero relieved Tavarez and got the third out. And as the seventh inning developed, it seemed it might be a lost game for the Red Sox. One of those getaway-day losses, with a series already in hand, that get chalked up to "Can't win 'em all."
Except, with this Red Sox team, it appears they can. Or, at least, most of 'em.
Even though, of a sweep on the road (the team's first in Texas of three or more games since 1973), Francona stated the obvious: "It's not easy."
With contributions from the struggling Drew -- a single to lead off the fourth, and that single to score Youkilis in the eighth -- combined with homers from Varitek (a three-run shot in the fourth off starter Kameron Loe, scoring Drew and Lowell) and Pedroia (his decisive solo shot came on a 12-pitch at-bat against Eric Gagne) and an impressive 1 2/3 innings of relief from Pineiro, the Red Sox headed home to face a sterner test than the Rangers provided.
"We set out today to win and we did that," Francona said. "Now we've got to move on. We go home and play a real good team. We'll get consumed with Cleveland for the next three days."
And yet . . .
"This series was huge for us," Tavarez said. "We're going back home happy. Dropping two in Yankee Stadium, come in and take three, go home at 4-2. It's been a great road trip for us.
"We just keep on winning, playing ball, and having fun."