PHILADELPHIA — As Ryan Howard stepped on first base to finally end the game after an eventful ninth inning, Jonathan Papelbon turned toward the Red Sox dugout and wildly pumped his right fist twice.
It was not a celebration on par with dancing a jig on the Fenway Park infield clad in his underwear, but it was far more than is usually required for a game played in late May.
Papelbon gave up a run but left two runners stranded on Wednesday night as the Phillies beat the Red Sox, 4-3.
It was Papelbon’s second save in as many nights against his former team and clearly it had meaning for him.
The Red Sox did not share Papelbon’s vision of making him one of the highest-paid relievers in the game. They allowed him to walk away as a free agent without making an offer and Papelbon got the contract he wanted from the Phillies.
When he pitched at Fenway Park on Tuesday for the first time since his departure, Papelbon was booed when he came out of the bullpen. He responded by setting down the Sox in order and hitting 96 miler-per-hour with his fastball for the first time all season.
It was a struggle on Wednesday but ultimately produced the same goofy smile.
Papelbon came in with a two-run lead and struck out an overmatched Jackie Bradley Jr. Stephen Drew then walked on the eighth pitch he saw.
Sox manager John Farrell played his best card, sending up idled designated hitter David Ortiz as a pinch hitter. Ortiz popped to right field, chasing a low fastball.
“I was ready, man,” Ortiz said. “I was ready. You just try your best and what happens, happens. It was a good pitch, a pitcher’s pitch. Good location.”
Jonny Gomes kept the game going with a single to right field. Jacoby Ellsbury then popped a ball down the line in left field. Domonic Brown should have made the play but wasn’t able to.
The double scored only one run, Gomes being stopped at third base despite running with two outs.
Daniel Nava, who earlier homered, swung at the first pitch he saw and tapped the ball to Howard. Papelbon allowed his first run since April 3 but picked up his 11th save.
The Red Sox have lost two straight but remain in first place as the Yankees lost to the Mets again. There’s one more against the Phillies on Thursday before a weekend series in the Bronx.
• The game drew 38,831at Citizens Bank Park. It was the smallest crowd the Red Sox have drawn in 22 interleague games as the visiting team.
• Clay Buchholz said his shoulder felt tight at first then he threw before the game but improved over the course of his session in the bullpen. “Everything felt pretty much normal, just a little bit dead arm. Ball was coming out of my hand as good as it usually does,” Buchholz said.
The Sox initially had Ryan Dempster listed for Sunday. Now they’ll wait to see how Buchholz feels after throwing on Thursday.
“I want to pitch Friday. But we’ll give it a little more time to feel 100 percent like I have all year,” Buchholz said.
• Shane Victorino, who played for the Phillies from 2005-12, was shown on the scoreboard in the middle of the fourth inning and came out of the dugout to tip his cap to the fans. He received a loud ovation. “That made me feel good,” he said. “The fans were always great to me here.”