PHILADELPHIA -- The play cost Adrian Gonzalez a hit but may have won the Red Sox a game.
Gonzalez’s fourth-inning line drive Thursday afternoon struck Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels in his nonthrowing hand. “It didn’t hit his glove, it hit his hand,’’ Gonzalez said.
Hamels’ glove went flying, but he was able to recover the ball in time to throw out Gonzalez at first. “I wish he hadn’t put his hand out,’’ Gonzalez said. “It would have been a base hit up the middle.’’
The Phillies, however, had more reason to rue the play. Hamels stayed in the game for one more out to end the fourth, but did not come out for the fifth inning of what was then a scoreless game. The Phillies announced he had a bruise and X-rays were negative.
In his absence, the Red Sox broke out of their offensive funk, scoring five times and hitting three home runs -- two by Jason Varitek, one by Dustin Pedroia -- against a short-handed (sorry) Phillies bullpen.
“I hope this kid [Hamels] is OK,’’ Red Sox manager Terry Francona said after Boston’s 5-2 win over the Phillies to salvage the finale of a three-game set, “but Gonzie’s hit was ... [Hamels] was going right through us. He’s one of the best pitchers in the game and that was probably our best way to get him out, because he wasn’t going to leave anytime soon. Obviously, when you get to the bullpen before they want you to, that gives you a chance.’’
The Red Sox had gone seven consecutive games scoring four runs or fewer, their longest such streak of the season, and had been held to one run and six hits in their first two games here, their only RBI produced by a pitcher, John Lackey.
But as soon as Hamels left, Sox bats came to life against replacement David Herndon. Josh Reddick tripled and scored on a base hit by Drew Sutton, who took third on Marco Scutaro’s hit-and-run single and scored on a base hit by Jacoby Ellsbury. That made it, 2-0 Sox, in the fifth. Varitek hit his first home run of the game in the sixth, also off Herndon, and Pedroia and Varitek went back-to-back in the eighth off Drew Carpenter.
It was the third time in the last 11 games the Sox have hit three home runs, but oddly, have not hit any home runs in the other eight games during that stretch.
Thursday, the Sox not only were playing without their DH, David Ortiz, but they didn’t have Kevin Youkilis, either. Youkilis had fouled a ball off his left foot Wednesday and underwent X-rays Thursday morning. They were negative, but he was too sore to play.
Without their usual 4-5 hitters, Francona used a lineup in which Pedroia batted cleanup, Varitek fifth, and Sutton played third. Reddick was also in the lineup, making his first start this season against a lefty, as the Sox had released Mike Cameron before the game. All the moves paid off.
“Sometimes you get lucky,’’ Francona said.
Francona had used Pedroia for a stretch as cleanup hitter three years ago, and Pedroia responded by batting an ungodly .667 (12 for 18) in a five-game span (four starts). The manager described Pedroia’s reaction to Thursday’s lineup card before the game.
“It expanded his chest size,’’ he said.
Pedroia went out quietly his first three at-bats, then launched an opposite-field home run to make it 4-0. “I got some pretty good numbers,’’ he cracked about hitting in the 4-hole. “It’s about time.’’
Said Francona when asked about employing the smallest guy in the team in the spot usually reserved for the heaviest hitters: "He may be small in stature, but not in his own opinion of himself.”
The Sox now head for Houston, and a three-game set that will wrap up this nine-game excursion through National League cities. The Astros have the worst record in baseball, and began the day with a staff ERA that was next to last in the NL.
“We’re collectively not swinging the bats great,’’ Gonzalez said. “Today was a good day to come out and get those five runs. I think those two days off threw us off our rhythm. Hopefully we’ll build on this tomorrow.’’