PHILADELPHIA -- We have, we can confidently report, the makings of a trend.
Namely, that the Red Sox are now playing very good baseball, in all facets of the game.
And Bobby Valentine, who earlier this season said managers can go into slumps, also is on a roll.
Despite playing woefully shorthanded this weekend, the Red Sox took two out of three from the Phillies and have won eight of their past 10 games to draw within a game of .500 (20-21).
Mike Aviles became the first Sox player in 99 years to lead off consecutive games with a home run, joining Hall of Famer Harry Hooper, who did it in 1913. Aviles also singled in a run.
Valentine elected to use Jarrod Saltalamacchia behind the plate even though catchers customarily aren’t asked to catch a day game after a night game, saying he “might as well ride that horse when he’s feeling good."
Saltalamacchia responded by blasting a 466-foot, three-run home run onto the left-center-field plaza known as “Ashburn Alley.” It was the third-longest home run of the season in the majors and longest by a member of the Red Sox since the mythical Wily Mo Pena hit one 470 feet in 2007.
Reliever Vicente Padilla entered with two on and two out in the eighth and walked Hunter Pence on a full count to load the bases, then retired the potential tying run, Ty Wigginton, on a ground ball to end the inning.
Padilla has now inherited 13 runners and stranded all of them.
And David Ortiz, playing back-to-back games at first base because the Sox were shorthanded in the outfield, flashed some serious leather.