Pedroia making gains, but has near miss

BOSTON -- For a moment on Sunday night, it seemed as if Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia had come through for his team once again when they needed him most.

Down by a run with two outs in the ninth, Pedroia stepped in against New York Yankees closer David Robertson with the looming presence of David Ortiz on deck. He watched Robertson’s first three pitches miss outside the zone before taking a strike. The next three he swung at, and he fouled the last two straight back as he just missed them.

Finally, on pitch eight of the at-bat, it appeared Pedroia finally had gotten all of it on a deep drive down the line in left that cleared the wall -- but just to the left of the foul pole.

“It started out fair, and then it kind of hooked foul,” Pedroia said. “Just one of those things. It was kind of up-and-in so I hooked it a little bit.”

A pitch later, Robertson successfully retired Pedroia to seal the Yankees’ 8-7 win over Boston. However, Pedroia put together a strong game, went 2-for-5 and hit a two-run home run in the second that gave the Red Sox a 5-3 lead.

The multihit game was Pedroia’s fifth consecutive, which matched his career high. Since snapping out of an 0-for-17 slump from July 18 to 22, Pedroia has hit .400 (16-for-40) in his past 10 games -- with seven multihit efforts in those games.

“I think over the last seven, eight days you’re seeing much better bat speed,” manager John Farrell said. “He misses another [home run] there in the ninth inning just foul. Just better bat speed and more freedom in the swing.”

Doing his part by singling and coming around to score in the Red Sox three-run first inning, Pedroia came up for his second at-bat after starter Clay Buchholz had surrendered three runs of his own to allow the Yankees to tie the game. With Brock Holt on second, Pedroia was all over the first pitch from Yankees starter David Phelps and hammered it over the wall in left-center for his home run.

The home run ended a drought of 146 homerless at-bats for Pedroia, dating back to June 19 in Oakland, and it was his first home run at Fenway since May 2, a career-long stretch of 160 at-bats.

“I feel good,” Pedroia said. “Got to build on it, continue to work and try to get better.”

Despite his solid effort, the frustration of another one-run loss (the team’s 21st this season) weighed on Pedroia, especially with the knowledge that he had come so close to doing his job in the ninth and moving the game forward to Ortiz.

“We had a couple of balls hit right at guys,” Pedroia said. “You’ve got to continue to battle and try to find ways to overcome that -- get the break.”