- Joe McDonald, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOSTON -- Youth prevails once again for the Boston Red Sox.
Trailing late in Thursday's game against the Miami Marlins, the Sox battled back and finished off the three-game series with a 6-5 victory.
Rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks provided a two-run homer to tie the game at 5-5 before teammate Daniel Nava drove in the would-be game-winning run with a broken-bat single to center field in the bottom of the eighth inning to help Boston to its fifth straight victory.
Middlebrooks finished the night 3-for-4 with four RBIs.
The late offensive push by the Sox took the heat off starter Daisuke Matsuzaka.
It was only Matsuzaka's third start of the season since returning from the disabled list after missing almost an entire year due to Tommy John surgery. He struggled early, then found his groove and worked 5 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on four hits with one walk and four strikeouts. He tossed a total of 101 pitches (70 strikes).
When he was removed from the game, the Sox were trailing 4-3, but thanks to a strong effort by the offense, Matsuzaka was off the hook and able to settle for a no-decision.
Matsuzaka started poorly, allowing three runs on three hits and three stolen bases in the top of the first inning, throwing 33 pitches. He settled down in the second, however, and retired the side in order on 10 pitches.
Matsuzaka found his rhythm and retired a total of 14 in a row before he allowed a solo home run to the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton with one out in the top of the sixth inning to give Miami a 4-3 lead.
The Marlins scored again off Red Sox reliever Andrew Miller for a 5-3 advantage.
Boston pushed three across in the bottom of the eighth before Red Sox closer Alfredo Aceves earned his 18th save of the season.
0H-FER: Red Sox slugger David Ortiz entered Thursday's game with three home runs in as many games, but went 0-for-3 with a walk. Earlier in the day he popped off about the media creating undeserved drama surrounding the Red Sox and said he's not happy.
BUSTED: After a brutal first inning, Dice-K retired the next seven batters he faced, including the Marlins' Greg Dobbs to lead off the top of the fourth inning. Red Sox left fielder Daniel Nava made a nice catch at the base of the Monster to retire Dobbs, but the outfielder's glove busted on the play and he needed to run from left field all the way to the dugout for a new mitt. Fortunately, the brief break in the action did not bother Matsuzaka and he then retired the next two batters to make it nine in a row.
UP NEXT: With the Marlins series in the books, the interleague schedule continues for the Red Sox as they host the Atlanta Braves in a three-game series this weekend at Fenway Park. The series begins Friday night when Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester (4-4, 4.53 ERA) faces the Braves right-hander Jair Jurrjens (0-2, 9.37). On Saturday, lefty Franklin Morales (0-1, 3.14) gets the nod for Boston, while Atlanta sends righty Randall Delgado (4-7, 4.12) to the hill. For Sunday's 1:35 matinee game, Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz (8-2, 5.53) will face the Braves' Mike Minor (3-5, 6.04).