BOSTON -- Takeaways from an emotionally charged Fenway Park, where poignant ceremony and hardball heroics once again made for a potent combination on Yawkey Way on Sunday night, this time on the eve of the 118th running of the Boston Marathon.
The result: With Dustin Pedroia scoring in the bottom of the ninth on a throwing error by Orioles left fielder David Lough, the Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 6-5. The victory, the first walk-off win for the Sox this season after having 11 in 2013, came on a night that the Sox paid tribute before the game to the victims of last April’s Marathon bombings and honored all those who lent their assistance in the aftermath of the tragedy.
“We’ll now take a moment to remember those who lost their lives and salute those who saved our lives and to thank those who helped us heal,” Sox PA announcer Henry Mahegan said during the ceremony.
Drama in the last of the ninth: After coming all the way back from a 5-0 hole, the Red Sox won it in the ninth. Pedroia doubled high off the left-field wall against Orioles left-hander Brian Matusz, with second-base umpire Paul Schrieber signaling fan interference after a spectator appeared to contact the ball with his glove. The play was reviewed, but the call on the field stood.
Matusz then threw a pitch that Orioles catcher Matt Wieters could not find at his feet, Pedroia taking third on the wild pitch. Orioles manager Buck Showalter elected to walk David Ortiz intentionally, then brought in right-hander Darren O’Day to face Mike Napoli. O’Day drilled Napoli in the left knee, filling the bases.
In one more round of managerial machinations, Farrell brought in Mike Carp to pinch hit for Jonny Gomes, who had doubled and homered earlier. Carp lined a ball to left, right at Lough, who was playing shallow, but his off-line throw skipped wildly around the backstop as Pedroia, who had broken toward the plate, came back to tag up, then bolted home, signaling safe after he slid into the plate.
“Obviously, they were in close,” Pedroia said. “I broke real quick -- if it had fallen in he would have had a chance to throw me out at home. Just one of those things, it was great positioning on their part. Worked out for us, it’s kind of a crazy deal.”
Carp thought he'd won the game when he first smoked his liner. “[Then I] realized, ‘Crap, it’s not deep enough.’ I looked down for one second coming off the field, turned around and everybody’s going nuts. It’s a great feeling.”
Carp must have had a chance to see a replay afterward because he had an amusing take on Pedroia's trip home.
“He was going in circles, he was running around everywhere,” Carp said. “[But] the only thing that matters is him sliding into home plate and we got the win.”
A win reminiscent of last season?
“We won some crazy ones and this was just a little wild but we’ll take it,” Pedroia said. “We did some good things, they got some great starting pitching and we fought back and put some good at-bats together.”
Lough's error was the third of the night for the Orioles, who had made just four in their first 16 games.
The early deficit: A sellout crowd of 33,947 had barely settled into their seats when the Orioles jumped on Sox starter Jake Peavy for three runs in the first inning, a rally touched off by a one-out home run by Baltimore newcomer Nelson Cruz, his third in a half-dozen games against the Sox this season. A couple of hits and Lough’s ground-rule double made it 4-0 in the fifth, and Peavy was knocked out in the sixth when Ryan Flaherty doubled and scored on a two-out single by Adam Jones.
“I felt OK,” said Peavy, who pitched in near-freezing temperatures in his last start in Chicago and didn't get a break from the weather Sunday night, with the temperature at 44 for the first pitch and dipping into the 30s as it went along. “The first inning I made some real bad pitches 0-and-2 and just couldn’t get in sync. It was a tough night to try to find my groove and get in sync.
“[But] any day that we go out there and it’s my day and we win, I’m as happy as the day is long, I promise you that. Good day, we’ll be back at them tomorrow.”
Boston Strong-man: Gomes, who in many ways came to embody the Boston Strong resilience adopted as the mantra for the team and city it represents, hit a three-run home run off Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez in the sixth, after the right-hander had checked the Sox on two hits through five scoreless innings, to draw within 5-3.
“They had us down early and it looked like they were going to put us away and Jonny, how many times has Jonny come up with a big home run to get us right back in the ballgame?” Carp said. “[We] kept battling, kept fighting and pulled it out in the ninth inning in typical Red Sox, Fenway Park fashion. Walk-off at Fenway.”
All the way back: The Sox rallied to tie the score in the seventh, with the help of errors by Orioles infielders Ryan Flaherty, who dropped a throw at second base on the dreaded transfer play, and Jonathan Schoop, who threw wildly home on an attempted force play at the plate. Both errors by the normally sure-handed Orioles came following Baltimore manager Buck Showalter's shuffling of his infield after Steve Lombardozzi hit for shortstop J.J. Hardy, who came out with a sore hamstring, triggering the switcheroos.
“The much talked-about transfer play comes into our favor tonight,” Farrell said, "and we’re able to chip away with two runs to tie things up.”
An “A” in penmanship: The Sox bullpen continued its phenomenal early-season run. Chris Capuano, unscored upon in eight appearances, relieved Peavy and registered five outs, two on strikes. Junichi Tazawa retired the dangerous Cruz, the only batter he faced, on a popup in the eighth, and is unscored upon in 10 appearances. Andrew Miller replaced Tazawa and struck out Chris Davis to end the eighth with a man on base, then gave up a double to Jones to open the ninth.
A ground ball to the right side by Wieters advanced the runner to third, but Miller retired Lombardozzi on a tapper to the mound, Jones holding third, before John Farrell went to the bullpen again, summoning Edward Mujica, who struck out Lough to strand Jones.