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Going a long way for streak

Pedroia extends it with late homer

Dustin Pedroia watches his eighth-inning home run, which extended his hitting streak to a career-best 25 games. Dustin Pedroia watches his eighth-inning home run, which extended his hitting streak to a career-best 25 games. (John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)
By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / July 29, 2011

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Had it provided a spark to a victory, things might have been different.

Dustin Pedroia might have viewed his homer to lead off the eighth inning - on a 3-and-2 count against Royals reliever Greg Holland - through a different prism.

That it provided only the final margin in the Red Sox’ 4-3 loss yesterday overshadowed the fact Pedroia’s 15th homer of the season extended his career-best hitting streak to 25 games. It also extended his on-base streak to 37 games, the longest active streak in the majors.

“I was just trying to get on base,’’ Pedroia said as he stood in front of his locker after the conclusion of a 5-2 homestand. “Holland’s got great stuff and I’m already at a disadvantage. He throws the ball real hard and I was just trying to put together a good at-bat.’’

Pedroia had failed to get a hit in his first three plate appearances, grounding out to second in the first, popping to short in the third, and drawing a walk in the fifth. The Fenway Faithful exhorted Pedroia with a thunderous ovation when he came to the plate in the eighth.

Asked if it was distracting, Pedroia said, “No, not really. We were down two runs and we were trying to win the game and that’s the most important thing and what we’re all trying to do here. It was nice of them.’’

Of the crowd reaction, manager Terry Francona said, “In the dugout you don’t hear that as much. You kind of get locked in. I just wanted him to get on base.

“I do think our fans are pretty special. They do react to things like that. It’s part of what makes Fenway so great. We don’t need to have President races or mustard racing ketchup. Our fans like our baseball. I actually really think that’s cool. Nothing against mustard.’’

There was no hot-dogging it on Pedroia’s part after he took a high fastball through the zone and crushed it, launching it toward the Green Monster seats.

“We’ve seen him get to where he gets. It took him a while this year,’’ Francona said. “There’s a lot of reasons. He was a little banged up. He finally found it and the one good thing is he keeps it. There’s going to be a game where he doesn’t get a hit. But you’re going to see this probably the rest of the year. That’s the way he is.’’

Pedroia’s solo shot kept intact a streak that dates to June 28 and ranks as the longest in the American League. It is the second-longest active streak behind Florida’s Emilio Bonifacio, who extended his to 26 games yesterday.

“At 3-2, I was just looking fastball and I hit it on the barrel and it worked out,’’ Pedroia said. “[Holland] throws it so darn hard as it is, he doesn’t give up very many runs or hits or anything, so I was lucky enough to hit it on the barrel.’’

Pedroia’s hitting streak is five games from matching the season-high 30-game streak of the Dodgers’ Andre Ethier - Pedroia’s best friend and former Arizona State teammate.

“No, no. I don’t really care,’’ Pedroia said when asked if he was coming after Ethier. “I’m just trying to come out and help us win games. That’s basically it. I really don’t care. I’d rather us win games than me hit a home run.’’

“I don’t think [Pedroia] never ceases to amaze anybody,’’ said Josh Reddick, Pedroia’s next-door neighbor in the clubhouse. “The expectations are high for him. He sets the standard really high and he’s exceeding his own standards. I’ll tell ya, he’s got that hit streak in the balance and he comes up and hits that big home run for us.

“Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough, but it’s one way to pick up the team right there.’’

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

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