Aviles lifts Sox in ninth
Clutch RBI single beats the Rangers
ARLINGTON, Texas — Mike Aviles was in position to be a hero for the Red Sox Tuesday night, coming to the plate with two runners on and two outs in the ninth inning of a tie game.
He hit the ball in the air, but off the end of his bat. For a few seconds, it looked sure to land in the glove of Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus.
“I was just hoping that it got enough to get over. I didn’t really want to play extra innings,” Aviles said. “Inside in my head I was just blowing, hoping that the ball would get over his head.”
On this night, the Sox caught a break. Andrus jumped as high as he could but the ball did get over his glove. A run scored and the Sox were on their way to a 2-1 victory.
The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Sox. It was only the second time since Rangers Ballpark opened in 1992 that they won a game scoring two or fewer runs.
Texas closer Joe Nathan (1-3) got two quick outs in the ninth before walking Daniel Nava and pinch hitter Jarrod Saltalamacchia. That gave Aviles a chance. He worked the count full, fouled off a slider then delivered the game winner.
Aviles had seen plenty of Nathan when both were in the American League Central, Aviles with the Royals and Nathan with the Twins.
“I know what he has in his repertoire but he’s still nasty,’’ said Aviles, who is 3 for 5 against Nathan. “Sometimes it pays to be a little bit lucky, I guess.”
Aviles was being modest. He is 28 of 82 (.341) with runners in scoring position and his 51 RBIs are the most among American League shortstops. That compensates for a .283 on-base percentage.
“Lot of big hits,” manager Bobby Valentine said. “I don’t necessarily want Mike to walk. If he’s going up there trying to walk and getting behind in the count, I’m not sure that’s exactly where he needs to be.
“He needs to stay aggressive and be aggressive and drive the ball when they make a mistake or he gets his pitch. He’s good at that. A lot of people make a good living doing that.”
Alfredo Aceves picked up his 21st save in relief of Vicente Padilla (4-0) and Clay Buchholz.
Buchholz allowed one run over seven innings against the highest scoring team in baseball. He gave up four hits, walked three, and struck out one.
Buchholz has a 2.47 earned run average in his last eight starts. After a ragged start of the season, the righthander has become the most reliable starter on the staff.
“It’s all about a comfort level,” he said. “Whenever you’re out there and you’re comfortable throwing pitches to both sides of the plate and letting them work rather than having to go out there and force it to work. Results will happen that way. It the process of getting to that point.”
Padilla had an interesting eighth. He struck out pinch hitter Brandon Snyder before Andrus singled. Padilla then struck out Josh Hamilton. He tried to work a pickoff play but threw the ball before first baseman Adrian Gonzalez was expecting it. The ball got away and Andrus went to third.
Padilla hit Adrian Beltre in the back of the helmet with an 0-and-2 fastball.
Beltre left the game but was able to walk off the field. Michael Young then grounded out. The crowd of 41,237 booed Padilla, who was released by Texas in 2009 because of conflicts with teammates.
Valentine called Texas manager Ron Washington after the game and was told that Beltre appeared to be fine.
Buchholz shut the Rangers out for five innings, allowing three hits. He took a 1-0 lead into sixth inning.
Andrus doubled into the right-field corner with one out. With Hamilton up, Buchholz threw a wild pitch and Andrus went to third base. With the infield in, Hamilton hit a slow grounder up the middle. Aviles charged and looked at the plate. But he had no play and took the out at first as Texas tied the game.
For the second consecutive game, the Rangers turned to an emergency starter because of injury. With Roy Oswalt out with a bad back that required a cortisone shot, 21-year-old rookie lefthander Martin Perez was called up from Triple A Round Rock and made the start.
Perez was impressive in his fifth major league appearance, holding the Sox to one run on five hits over six innings. On Monday, Scott Feldman filled in for an injured Colby Lewis and held the Sox to one run over seven innings.
Cody Ross drew a walk to start the fourth inning. With two outs, Kelly Shoppach doubled to right field and Ross scored. David Murphy looked to have a play going back on the ball but could not quite catch up to it.
The double gave Shoppach 17 extra-base hits in 107 at-bats. He had 14 extra-base hits in 221 at-bats all last season for the Rays.
Buchholz kept the game tight, giving Aviles his shot.
“He was on fumes and guts and did a great job of getting us through,” Valentine said.
Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com.