With the Boston Red Sox seemingly on their way to another defeat, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz awoke from their offensive slumbers to help end the team’s longest losing streak in 20 years.
Now the visiting Red Sox hope their stars can build on that performance and win consecutive games for the first time in more than two weeks Tuesday night against the Atlanta Braves.
Trailing 6-1 through four innings in Monday’s series opener, AL East-worst Boston (21-29) turned the game around when Pedroia hit a two-run single and Ortiz tied the game with a three-run homer in the fifth.
Ortiz, making his first start at first base, added his fourth RBI with seventh-inning sacrifice fly as the Red Sox rallied for an 8-6 win that snapped a 10-game skid – the franchise’s worst since an 11-game slide in 1994.
"It’s been too long since we last shook hands following a win,” manager John Farrell said.
Ortiz had gone 4 for 34 without an RBI and Pedroia was 8 for 41 with one RBI during the losing streak. They also had two of Boston’s three hits in four at-bats with runners in scoring position after the team had batted .197 in those situations the previous 10 losses.
”In 10 games prior, there was one RBI combined (between Pedroia and Ortiz),” Farrell said. ”That’s not to put it all on them, but they being in the middle of the lineup, their contributions are key to us.”
Farrell’s club scored its most runs since May 14 while dealing NL East-leading Braves (28-22) their third loss in nine games overall and third in their last 11 at Turner Field.
Aaron Harang (4-4, 3.32 ERA) will try to get Atlanta back on track, though he’s 1-3 with a 6.11 ERA in his last five starts after going 3-1 with an 0.85 mark in his first five. The veteran right-hander gave up four runs and nine hits over 5 1-3 innings Thursday before the Braves rallied for three runs in the seventh of a 5-4 home win over Milwaukee.
He’s 2-2 with a 5.64 ERA in four career starts versus Boston, which tagged him for seven runs over five innings in an 11-4 loss July 10 while Harang was with Seattle.
Ortiz, who had a home run and a double off Harang in that contest, is 5 for 9 with three doubles lifetime against him. Grady Sizemore has gone 9 for 22 in the matchup, but Pedroia is hitless in five at-bats.
The Red Sox counter with Jon Lester (4-6, 3.36), who hopes to bounce back after allowing a season-high seven earned runs and 10 hits over 6 1-3 innings in Thursday’s 7-2 home loss to Toronto.
After giving up just three home runs over his first nine starts, the left-hander surrendered two against the Blue Jays.
Lester is 1-1 with a 2.77 ERA in two career starts versus Atlanta. He’s also 9-2 with a 2.44 ERA in 14 career interleague road starts, including five consecutive victories.
He’ll likely have to deal with red-hot Justin Upton, who had two doubles and three RBIs in the series opener. Upton is hitting .419 with four home runs and 14 RBIs over his last nine games.
The Braves have dropped 15 of the last 20 meetings.