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Up north, Pedroia quickly went south

By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / September 9, 2011

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TORONTO - When he came up with two men on base and two out in the top of the ninth inning last night against the Blue Jays, Dustin Pedroia wasn’t seeking redemption as much as he was seeking a pitch to hit.

In his four previous games, Pedroia struggled mightily, going 1 for 18 with three strikeouts.

Although he knew his at-bat wasn’t going to change any of that, Pedroia was determined to provide the Red Sox a late spark, or go down swinging.

He did the latter when he took a mighty cut at a 95-mile-per-hour fastball from reliever Frank Francisco and struck out to end a 7-4 loss before 17,189 at Rogers Centre.

It was Pedroia’s third strikeout in an 0-for-5 performance.

“I was trying to put a good at-bat together and I didn’t,’’ Pedroia said. “That was basically it.’’

Pedroia is now hitting .298 for the season, the first time his batting average has dipped below .300 since July 25, a span of 45 games.

He wound up leaving Toronto miffed after going 1 for 20 with six strikeouts in the four-game set, the Sox’ final trip north. He’s 1 for 23 in his last five games.

Pedroia had gone 2 for 5 with a double and three RBIs in a 12-7 victory over the Rangers Saturday at Fenway Park.

“Just felt like I swung the bat [expletive] for five games,’’ Pedroia said. “There will be a time where I swing the bat for five games and where I won’t get out. We’ll see what happens.’’

His only hit in this series came on a sharp single off Brandon Morrow in the first inning of Wednesday night’s 11-10 loss.

“He’ll be all right,’’ said David Ortiz. “He’s a machine who wants to produce every day. The games have their ups and downs that you have to deal with. I think even going through tough times right now, he’s still having a great season.

“It’s just him coming out of one game and getting a few hits and watching Pedey go again.’’

Pedroia seemed to be pressing when he struck out in his first two at-bats against Toronto lefthander Ricky Romero, who picked up the win after giving up three runs on five hits and three walks over 6 2/3 innings while striking out seven.

“He threw the ball good,’’ said Pedroia, who entered the game batting .500 (8 for 16) against Romero. “He’s got great stuff, great numbers, and he’s a great pitcher, so he did what he does. He did a great job.’’

That it came at the Sox’ expense as they tried to gain ground on the Yankees, who lost for the second time in as many games to the lowly Orioles, only added to Pedroia’s frustration.

“He’s probably trying a little too hard,’’ said Sox manager Terry Francona. “He feels so much responsibility when we’re not clicking to do it by himself. That’s one of the characteristics that we love about him.

“When he doesn’t get hits, and I want him to get hits, we don’t worry about him too much.’’

Asked if he had tried to take on more of a burden with the Sox struggling (seven losses in their last 10 games), Pedroia replied, “Not really.’’

“We’re all trying to do great things,’’ he said. “We’re trying to win games. It’s that time of year when we’ve got to do that, so it’ll turn.’’

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

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