Extra Bases

Red Sox grind one out, get a day off

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The Sox beat the Royals 8-1. Easy, right?

Not so much.

It was 1-1 after four innings and Jon Lester was lucky it was that considering he had put five runners on base in the first three innings.

“I didn’t think Lester was as powerful as he has been,” Terry Francona said. “Thought early on, he had to fight for everything.”

Lester (6-2 with a ERA down to 2.97) settled in and the Sox went to work on overmatched Royals reliever Brad Thompson. So much of baseball is timing and the Sox caught a day when the Royals had to use their bullpen with no starter available.

David Ortiz drove a three-run shot to left to cap his comeback month of May. The 10 homers this month were his most in a month since he hit 10 in August of 2006.

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Papi now has 328 homers in his career, tying him with Hit Dog Mo Vaughn and Shawn Green for 93rd place in history. Next up is Hank Greenberg, who had 331.

Good day for Mike Cameron, too. He had his first two RBIs of the season with a double in the sixth inning. He also played for the third straight day and in a day game after a night game. Fighting through that abdominal tear, Cameron came through.

“Today was a big day for Cam,” Francona said. “I thought his body bounced back real well. I think it was obvious the way he swung the bat. I bet you he feels good about himself.”

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Cameron came into the game hitting .250 over 15 games and 44 at-bats but without a run batted in or a home run.

“Got one of the zeroes off the board,” he said. “I’m still working on the other one. I’ve been trying for a couple of days and it won’t get up over that wall. It’ll come in the future. If I have good at-bats, those things will come.

“Once that happens, I’ll feel a whole lot better. It’s been a long time since I hit a homer. It’s hard if you try to do it. That wall is very enticing.”

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The players dressed quickly after the game. They don’t have to be back at the park until Tuesday afternoon. Getting what amounts to two days off in the middle of the season is a bonus.

Dustin Pedroia said he was going to do “a lot of nothing.” Darnell McDonald is taking his 5-year-old daughter to see the new Shrek movie. Jeremy Hermida might pop a cold beer with some friends.

The Sox went 11-6 in a stretch that saw them play 17 games in as many days, most of them against contenders. They earned the time off.

Thanks to everybody who hung out with us this weekend. There may be a post or two tomorrow, but it’s a day off for beat writers, too. Athletics-Sox on Tuesday.

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