THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Youkilis was a big hit for the Sox, too

By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / May 17, 2011

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In the end, it was overshadowed by the two-run, walk-off double Adrian Gonzalez hit off the Wall in last night’s 8-7 victory over the Orioles. But Kevin Youkilis’s two-run double off the Monster proved a huge blow in a five-run, five-hit eruption in the sixth inning that helped the Red Sox erase nearly all of a 6-0 deficit.

“Of course, obviously everyone’s going to look at Adrian’s hit as the big one,’’ said Jed Lowrie. “But I don’t think you can discount any other hits we got tonight, especially in those last three innings. They’re all big. So you can’t discount any one of them.’’

Youkilis’s hit chased reliever Michael Gonzalez (one-third of an inning, four runs, three hits) in the sixth, triggering a revolving door in Baltimore’s bullpen. In all, Orioles manager Buck Showalter needed six relievers to get through the last four innings after Chris Tillman had thrown five shutout innings of five-hit baseball.

After walking in his first at-bat, then flying out in his second and third plate appearances, Youkilis doubled in his last two at-bats, finishing 2 for 4 with two RBIs, giving him 27 overall, second on the club behind Gonzalez (37).

“Youk’s been great,’’ said Dustin Pedroia, who scored the winning run when he drew a walk after a nine-pitch at-bat and scored from first on Gonzalez’s double. “He’s had big hit after big hit and we need that from him. He’s a guy who’s done that his whole career and we’ve kind of taken advantage of it and get used to it, but he’s pretty good.’’

Youkilis had driven in at least two runs in three of his last four games, totalling seven RBIs in that stretch.

He went 2 for 5 and hit a three-run homer in Sunday’s 7-5 win over the Yankees.

“You know, it’s been kind of an interesting run for him,’’ Terry Francona said of Youkilis before the game. “We’ve seen him take more swings maybe out of the zone and some swings and misses that maybe we’re not accustomed to [seeing], but if you make that one mistake, he’s been hitting that three-run homer. So there’s certainly that threat and there’s that production there.’’

But the two RBIs Youkilis had in the five-run sixth last night proved critical.

After Jason Varitek singled in the second run of the inning Gonzalez hit a two-out RBI single to left that scored Carl Crawford (who had reached on an error) with the third run. Youkilis then ripped his double to the left-field corner, scoring Varitek and Gonzalez to make it 6-5.

“Adrian’s not the most fleet-of-foot runner, but it knocked around the cage a little bit and gave him the time to go home,’’ Youkilis said. “So it was huge for us to try and get those two runs and get us close to back to even.’’

Youkilis did his part to try and help get Gonzalez across when he went for third, stopping three-quarters of the way to the bag in an attempt to induce a cutoff on the relay. He succeeded in doing so, then alertly hustled back to second, outracing second baseman Brian Roberts to slide safely into the bag.

“I wanted to make sure that there was no doubt that he was going to score,’’ Youkilis said. “That’s basically what that play is. You want a relay throw and if they don’t cut it off, then you’re at third base. So, we just want to make sure that run scores.’’

He represented the tying run in the eighth when he doubled to left and advanced to third on David Ortiz’s ground out to second. But Youkilis wound up getting stranded when Koji Uehara issued an intentional walk to J.D. Drew, then struck out Lowrie and induced Crawford to pop up to second.

“I mean, it was an opportunity lost,’’ Lowrie said. “I felt the first pitch was a ball and it kind of buried me. He had a great splitter and I battled him and he didn’t make any mistakes and that’s what happens.’’

Said Youkilis, “We didn’t get it there, but this team, especially here at home, it’s never over until you get that final out against us.’’

Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.

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