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Bedard is finally over hump

Lefthander picks up first Sox win

Working with a big lead after the Sox’ eight-run fourth inning, Erik Bedard was able to get comfortable on the mound. Working with a big lead after the Sox’ eight-run fourth inning, Erik Bedard was able to get comfortable on the mound. (Barry Chin/Globe Staff)
By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / September 4, 2011

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It took a month for Erik Bedard to earn his first victory with the Red Sox. But it also took that long for the Sox to produce enough runs to provide Bedard with a comfortable margin for error.

In Bedard’s first five starts for the Sox dating to Aug. 4, he recorded a 3.46 ERA. Since 1919, no Sox starter had been winless in his first five starts with an ERA that low.

In those five games, the Sox produced a total of 11 runs. But they surpassed that in six innings in a 12-7 win over the Texas Rangers yesterday.

“It was great putting 12 on the board, it makes it easier on the pitcher,’’ Bedard said. “You’re not going to quiet this offense for long. It’s a matter of time before they score a lot of runs - and they did.’’

This did not start out as the most efficient of Bedard outings.

The Rangers held a 3-1 lead and Yorvit Torrealba doubled to lead off the fourth. But David Murphy grounded out and Adrian Gonzalez grabbed a popped-up bunt by Craig Gentry, tagging Torrealba for a double play.

The Sox scored eight times in the fourth inning, matching the run production Bedard had gained in 21 innings in four previous starts dating to Aug. 9.

But Bedard was on the verge of trouble in each of the first four innings, rescued by the combination of his own resourcefulness and the fielding of Gonzalez.

“It starts out they’re scoring and he’s able to stop it,’’ Sox manager Terry Francona said of Bedard. “And we had the big inning and the game completely turned around.’’

Gonzalez also had an unassisted double play in the opening inning.

“That got [Bedard] an extra inning,’’ Francona said. “First and third and one out and all of a sudden we’re coming off the field one pitch later.’’

Francona noted Bedard’s difficulties have related to recovering from a knee sprain.

“There is some soreness and instability in there, so he ends up throwing with his arm instead of [using] his legs,’’ Francona said.

Bedard believed in the inevitability of the Sox to provide support. And it also seemed like a matter of time before Bedard would get a victory against Texas - he had failed in eight previous starts against the Rangers with a record of 0-3 and an ERA of 4.23.

“I threw a lot of pitches the first couple innings,’’ Bedard said. “I just kept battling and throwing strikes and trying to keep the ball down, and eventually I did.

“I was missing with my fastball early, but as the game went on I got better and better.’’

Whether Bedard was taking his time getting warmed up, or he was inspired by the Sox offense, the last two innings of his six-inning stint were spectacular.

Facing the top of the Rangers’ lineup, Bedard struck out four and did not allow a hit in the fifth and sixth innings.

But Bedard is still finding his comfort zone with the Red Sox and working on not getting his signals crossed with his catchers.

“It’s a process,’’ Bedard said. “But as [Jarrod Saltalamacchia] gets to know me, it gradually gets better every day.’’

Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at f_dellapa@globe.com.

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