Youkilis delivers for Sox
He ties it in 9th, wins it in 11th
If you are looking for a reason to still believe in the battered and bruised Red Sox, last night’s game at Fenway Park would be a good place to start.
On the verge of their third straight loss, the Red Sox scored a run in the ninth inning against new Texas Rangers ace Cliff Lee. Given new life by their unexpected rally, the Sox emerged with a 3-2 victory in 11 innings.
The hero on both occasions was Kevin Youkilis, who had a double in the ninth inning that tied it and then a sacrifice fly in the 11th. On what was another scorching night at Fenway, the Red Sox somehow still had the energy to pile on Youkilis after his fly ball to center field.
“He’s a bad man,’’ teammate David Ortiz said after the Red Sox won for the first time this year when trailing after eight innings.
The depleted Red Sox used small ball and good base running to manufacture the victory.
Marco Scutaro drew a walk to lead off the 11th against reliever Alexi Ogando. Darnell McDonald pushed a bunt to the first base side of the mound. Ogando, a rookie, tried to make a play at second but the throw caromed into left field.
Scutaro got up and advanced to third, with McDonald alertly taking second. Rangers manager Ron Washington ordered Ortiz intentionally walked then called in Darren O’Day to face Youkilis.
Youkilis went after a 2-and-1 fastball and hit it deep enough to center to score Scutaro.
“You have to stick to what you do and try and not do too much,’’ Youkilis said. “I just tried to get a good pitch to hit and I was fortunate to get one.’’
It was only the third victory in 10 extra-inning games for the Red Sox.
“Youkilis is just something else. This guy constantly rises to occasions,’’ Washington said.
Manny Delcarmen (3-2) pitched an inning for the win. Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon had combined for three scoreless innings after John Lackey allowed two runs in seven strong innings.
“It doesn’t always happen but these type of wins have the ability to jump-start a team,’’ Bard said. “After two losses, coming back with a win like that is pretty important.’’
Mike Cameron nearly won the game in the 10th when he drove a pitch from Ogando deep to right. But Nelson Cruz reached over the short wall to pull the ball back.
“Thought I had it,’’ Cameron said. “But the big thing is we came back. We really needed that one.’’
Lee went into the ninth having retired 22 of the prior 23 batters, dominating the Red Sox after allowing a run in the first inning. He needed to throw only 11 pitches to get through the seventh and eighth innings.
Scutaro started the ninth with a single to center. McDonald’s bunt moved him to second. Ortiz ran the count full and fouled off two pitches before grounding to second.
With Scutaro on third, Youkilis doubled to left to tie the score at 2.
“It is great to have guys play small ball. You don’t have to hit home runs to win ball games,’’ Youkilis said. “That is one of the things I said in the dugout, we don’t need a home run, just base runners and get hits and good things will happen, and they did.’’
Before the inning started, Francona told bench coach DeMarlo Hale and pitching coach John Farrell that the Sox would be OK if they could get Youkilis to the plate.
“That’s probably wishful thinking given how good Lee is,’’ Francona said. “Guess that shows the amount of confidence we have in Youk.’’
In his second start for Texas, Lee allowed six hits and struck out six. He retired the side in order six times.
“That’s about as well-pitched a game as you’re ever going to see,’’ Francona said. “He never walks anybody and you can’t steal. He throws strike after strike after strike, it has movement, and it’s never in the middle of the plate.’’
Lee actually looked vulnerable in the first inning. McDonald doubled off the wall in left field with one out and scored when Ortiz found a hole in the defensive shift and dropped a single into right-center.
Youkilis followed with a single to left. The Sox had a chance to inflict more damage but Adrian Beltre bounced into a double play to end the inning.
Lackey was working on a three-hit shutout before the Rangers scored twice with two outs in the sixth.
Ian Kinsler started it with a single. Vladimir Guerrero then walked on five pitches, prompting a visit to the mound by Farrell.
His advice did not help. Lackey threw three straight cut fastballs to Josh Hamilton, the third of which was lined into left for an RBI single. Cruz then broke his bat on a fastball, but was able to push it into center field for a single to score Guerrero with the go-ahead run.
Lackey left having allowed two runs and seven hits over seven innings, with two walks and three strikeouts. He threw 70 of his 115 pitches for strikes.
“We’ve got a lot of things going against us right now. We keep grinding. We keep battling,’’ Lackey said. “We’ve got a lot of pros in that room that are going to be here for the long haul.’’
Lackey came back to the bench to watch the final inning.
“I was ready to jump around a little bit,’’ he said.