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Doubront, Aceves get job done

They come up big in the series finale

By Alex Prewitt
Globe Correspondent / July 30, 2012
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In a house he once called home, in a game he once blew, Alfredo Aceves drove his throwing fist toward the dirt and let out a scream, the verbal cap on a loud statement made Sunday night by the Red Sox pitchers.

After allowing the game-tying single in the eighth inning, the Sox closer pitched two frames of no-hit ball, staring down the heart of New York’s order in extras and, with that manic, animated passion he’s come to embody, got Mark Teixeira to fly out, Robinson Cano to ground out, and — after hitting Nick Swisher to put the tying run on — ended Raul Ibanez’s nine-pitch at-bat by getting him to strike out swinging.

“Ace gave an incredible performance,” reliever Andrew Miller said.

Aceves, who was released by the Yankees after the 2010 season and latched on with the Sox shortly after, bookended a phenomenal start from Felix Doubront, who limited the Yankees to four hits and one run over 6 innings, the lone blip a solo shot to right from Russell Martin, a likely out in most other stadiums.

“Felix was great,” manager Bobby Valentine said. “For a guy people thought shouldn’t be pitching in this series, he pitched his heart out.”

With their offday following the Texas series, the Sox had the opportunity to shuffle their rotation and slot Clay Buchholz into a crucial rubber game against their bitter rivals. Valentine instead stuck with Doubront, and it paid off.

“He had great stuff,” Valentine said. “He gets tougher with men on base, I think . . . I’m getting used to it. I’ve seen it since April. I think he’s made of the right stuff.”

Making his first career start at Yankee Stadium, Doubront was 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA lifetime against New York, striking out 19 in 17 innings. Sunday, he flashed similar dominance, striking out Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson each twice, but walked five and found himself in jams on multiple occasions. Each time, he bailed himself out.

With runners on base, the Yankees were 0 for 7 against Doubront.

“It was fun,” Doubront said. “I wasn’t scared. I went out there and pitched my game.

“That was big for us. We needed to win the series. It didn’t matter how we did it.”

With runners on the corners in the seventh and the Sox clinging to a 2-1 lead, Miller got Granderson to pop out to left and Teixeira to ground out to third, two crucial strands for the lanky lefty, who gave way to Aceves in the eighth after allowing a two-out double to Andruw Jones, who scored the tying run.

“We’re all out there coming in to try to pick each other up, and you come into a situation like that, all you want to do is leave those guys out there,” Miller said. “Fortunately, I was able to do that. I wish I hadn’t given up that double to Andruw Jones . . . Fortunately, we were able to grind something out at the end.”

Aceves provided the exclamation point, even after blowing his fifth save of the season, even in his second-longest outing this season.

After plunking Swisher, Aceves summoned first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to the mound for a conference. Pitching coach Bob McClure soon joined them. But Aceves patted him on the back, ushering him off the field with a smile. Everything will be fine, he seemed to be saying.

Ibanez then fouled off five pitches, including an upper-deck shot he yanked into the into the right-field seats. Then on a 2-and-2 count, Aceves dealt an 81-mile-per-hour hook. Ibanez whiffed. And suddenly, everything was fine.

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