PHILADELPHIA — The Red Sox had their first baseman in right field on Saturday night and their designated hitter took a rare turn at first base despite a case of stomach flu.
The catcher played a day after he got knocked in the side of the head with a ball and needed 12 stitches to piece together his left ear.
There was a rookie at third base, an independent league discovery in left field and the bench was short a player because of an injury.
The starting pitcher had a sore back.
Oh, and they were playing on the road against a team with the longest active win streak in the game.
“It was very entertaining,” said David Ortiz after the Red Sox found a way to beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 7-5.
Ortiz, the reluctant first baseman with a queasy stomach, hit a two-run homer. The rookie, Will Middlebrooks, had a solo shot. So did the catcher with the mangled ear, Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Mike Aviles led off the game with a home run and started three double plays from shortstop. Adrian Gonzalez, playing right field for the fourth time in his career, made two nice catches.
The Sox also benefited from one of the best defensive plays of the season, a spectacular diving catch by center fielder Ryan Sweeney in the seventh inning that saved two runs.
“That was a complete ball game,” said manager Bobby Valentine, whose team has won seven of its last nine games and is starting to develop a likable personality.
“It was a good win for us tonight to be able to grind that one out and be on top,” said Jon Lester, who went six innings for the win despite a sore back. Vicente Padilla, Rich Hill and Alfredo Aceves closed it out.
How about that trio? Padilla came to spring training on a minor league deal. Hill was on the disabled list recovering from surgery and Aceves was trying to make the rotation. But they’re the core of a bullpen that has become pretty reliable.
The Phillies had 15 hits but stranded 11 runners on base. They were 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position.
Ortiz was the last player out of the clubhouse after the game, moving slowly after having tumbled over Philadelphia first baseman Hector Luna trying to leg out a single in the third inning. That left him with a sore hip.
But Big Papi hung in until Gonzalez returned to first base for the ninth inning. It was that kind of night for the Sox.
“This our team. At times we’re flashy but we’re not a flashy team,” Lester said. “We have grind everything out and that’s what we’re figuring out about ourselves. We have to bust our ass to the end.
“We’re playing good baseball now and starting to develop an identity There were a lot of moving parts but we’re figuring out ways to get it done.”