Boston Red Sox: Jake Peavy

Peavy suffers another tough-luck loss

July, 12, 2014
Jul 12
HOUSTON -- That booming sound out of Houston was Jake Peavy's trade value shooting through the enclosed roof at Minute Maid Park.

In the 3-2 loss to the Houston Astros on Saturday afternoon, Peavy lost his eighth straight decision, but there was a sense in the postgame clubhouse that the offense let him down again.

His name has been attached to every trade rumor mill in recent weeks. Teams have sent scouts to his last few starts. They all want to know the same thing the Red Sox wanted to know less than a year ago when they traded for him from the Chicago White Sox -- how much does he have left in the tank and can he make us a stronger contender?

[+] EnlargeJake Peavy
Bob Levey/Getty Images"I'm sure there will be [trade] rumors flying as long as I'm here," Jake Peavy said after Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Astros.
Peavy answered those questions Saturday with a gutsy performance that felt more like a playoff start than an audition.

His fastball was lively, his off-speed pitches were deadly, his location was razor sharp, and his emotions ran high.

After a grounder glanced off his glove and prevented him from turning the inning-ending double-play he wanted with the score tied in the seventh inning, he shouted at himself and smacked his glove, angrily.

The next batter drilled a grounder down the right-field line that first baseman Mike Napoli smothered and tossed to a sprinting Peavy. He slid into first, tagged the bag with his glove and rolled over in the dirt to escape the inning.

It wasn't the typical bang-bang play you see out of 33-year-old former Cy Young Award winners, but it showed Peavy's desperation for victory.

"Any time I pitch, I have nothing left to give, I can promise you that," Peavy said. "It's not even the run support. It's just finding a way to win on my day. I've pitched in tight games my whole career, and I've been able to win. I've got to find a way to get better. There are so many little, small things that happen on a daily basis."

In a clubhouse full of players and coaches feeling guilty for his latest loss, Peavy was his own biggest critic. He obsessively nitpicked over this pitch and that play, marginal differences that swung the game.

Perhaps his only mistake on Saturday was that he thew one too many pitches.

Surprising to many, Peavy jogged out onto the field to start the eighth inning, and Jose Altuve hit his 103rd pitch -- a fatigued 88 mph fastball -- for a double. Red Sox manager John Farrell immediately pulled Peavy in favor of Andrew Miller, who got the Red Sox to two outs before Junichi Tazawa came in and surrendered the go-ahead run, dropping Peavy to 1-8 on the season.

Peavy struck out a season-high nine batters, his most strikeouts in nearly 15 months. He allowed three runs on six hits and one walk.

The Red Sox have scored just two runs in the last 20 innings that Peavy has pitched. Although he has pitched at least six innings in all but three of his 19 starts, only twice has he left games with more than three runs of support on the scoreboard.

"I think his run support is probably less than three runs a game on the year," Farrell said. "The way he has pitched isn't reflected in his win-loss record. He can only control so much, and what he was able to control today, he was outstanding at, and that was leaving guys in scoring position."

When asked how he would personally assess his first half of the season, however, Peavy zoned in on the statistic Farrell disregarded.

"Not good," Peavy said. "1-8. Not good."

Peavy said he has not been updated by the Red Sox front office on its plans for him, but he said he looks forward to a much-needed All-Star break.

"I know it's a possibility, I know it's a reality," Peavy said. "I'm hoping with all of me that it's not the case, but I'm sure there will be rumors flying as long as I'm here. I don't want to leave a man in this room, and I think the organization knows that. That being said, I wouldn't be upset or disgruntled at the organization for doing what they think is best."

Despite the lack of run support on Saturday, there was no lacking of hits.

Napoli was the only starter who failed to get a hit. Rookies Brock Holt, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts all had multi-hit games.

"The last couple of days, the bottom of the order has done very well," Farrell said. "When you consider what Jackie's done, what Mookie did today, our offensive approach was really good today. It's just that in key moments, we didn't get a hit."

On Sunday, the Red Sox will send Clay Buchholz to the mound to try to end the first half of the season on a positive note before the All-Star break.

Oh, and good news -- the Red Sox have scored at least five runs in five of Buchholz's last six starts.

No contingency in place if Peavy dealt

July, 11, 2014
Jul 11
HOUSTON -- Less than 24 hours before Jake Peavy's next anticipated start, the Red Sox currently have no contingency plan in place in case he gets traded.

Red Sox manager John Farrell said before Friday's game against the Houston Astros that he has no knowledge of any possible trade of the veteran starter at this point.

"I think if I'm made aware that something is imminent, there will be a contingency plan," Farrell said. "But there's no contingency for now."

Peavy acknowledged Tuesday night that he might have made his last start with the team he won a World Series with in 2013.

Peavy -- who is 1-7 with a 4.64 ERA so far this season -- is expected to start in Saturday's game against the Houston Astros. But Farrell's latest comments suggested that nothing is certain with the All-Star break on the horizon.

"There's no way that I would have ever -- in any way, shape or form -- thought this would be the situation we'd be faced with," Peavy said Tuesday. "That being said, this is a humbling game. There are a lot of intangibles and variables that go into putting together a championship ball club. And this shows, on a year-to-year basis, just how tough it is."

The St. Louis Cardinals sent a scout on a one-day mission to see Peavy pitch in his last start. In a no-decision result against Baltimore, Peavy pitched six innings, allowing two runs -- one earned -- six hits and two walks, while striking out three. He has pitched at least five innings in 17 of his 18 starts this season, pitching at least six innings in all but three of those.

Peavy has allowed just three runs over his last 12 innings.

Farrell further empathized with Peavy's situation and the fact that the veteran's name is being tossed heavily in the trade rumor mills for the second time in less than a year.

"They’re well aware and have seen it many times over," Farrell said of veterans in Peavy's situation. "He was traded last year to us, so he having gone through it personally, I don’t see it taking away or distracting the way he’ll go about his game tomorrow."

The San Diego Padres traded him to the Chicago White Sox, who traded him to the Red Sox, who are now sorting through their options to find another landing spot. Along with St. Louis, the Atlanta Braves have been mentioned as possible suitors.

• The Red Sox on Friday will face veteran Houston Astros starter Scott Feldman, who they hit well in 2013. In three starts, Feldman went 0-2 against Boston last season, allowing 16 runs in just 12 1-3 innings pitched, good for a 9.49 ERA.

• Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. will bat sixth for the first time in his career Friday night as the Red Sox begin their three-game series with the Houston Astros. Brock Holt is back in the outfield after spending the last two games in the infield after Xander Bogaerts got the day off on Thursday.

Here's the full Red Sox lineup:

1. Brock Holt, RF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Mike Carp, 1B
5. Daniel Nava, LF
6. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
7. Xander Bogaerts, 3B
8. Stephen Drew, SS
9. Christian Vazquez, C
SP -- John Lackey, RHP

Peavy trade to Cards could happen quickly

July, 8, 2014
Jul 8
PM ET's Jayson Stark, following up on a report that the St. Louis Cardinals are interested in Red Sox right-hander Jake Peavy and sent a scout to Boston to watch his start on Sunday, reported that a source told him a deal could be made "quick."

That leaves open speculation that the Red Sox would like to strike a deal before game time Wednesday, when they would like to activate right-hander Rubby De La Rosa for a start again against the White Sox. That would preclude Boston from having to make another roster move to create space for De La Rosa.

Could it happen that quickly? The Cardinals need rotation help, and they were very close to trading for Peavy at last year's deadline -- so close that Peavy thought he was going to the Cardinals.

Peavy keeps spot; De La Rosa demoted

June, 28, 2014
Jun 28
NEW YORK -- With only one win in 16 starts this season and an 0-4 record and a 5.87 ERA in five June starts, Jake Peavy's place in the Red Sox's starting rotation appeared to be hanging by a thread.

But then manager John Farrell announced on Friday that Peavy would be starting Monday at Fenway Park against the Chicago Cubs, and on Saturday, rookie right-hander Rubby De La Rosa, who had dazzled in his past two starts, was optioned back to Pawtucket.

[+] EnlargeJake Peavy
AP Photo/Elaine ThompsonJake Peavy is holding on to a spot in Boston's starting rotation -- for now.
Farrell had said De La Rosa pitched well enough (2.51 ERA in five starts, including back-to-back starts of seven innings in which he allowed a total of one run) to warrant staying here, and there is a school of thought that he should have displaced Peavy in the rotation.

Peavy doesn't belong to that school. He was defiant in his declaration that he can still be a productive member of the rotation.

"I know I can," he said. "Absolutely. There ain't any doubt in my mind that I'm going to help. I've got plenty of baseball left."

General manager Ben Cherington, who just promoted another rookie, infielder-outfielder Mookie Betts, was asked if it was hard to justify sending down De La Rosa, given how well he has pitched and the fact that wins have been hard to come by.

"It was hard, but I still think it was the right thing to do," Cherington said. "Just because it was hard doesn't mean it's not the right thing to do.

"We bought as much time as we could, in part because of how well he pitched. We wanted to make sure the rest of the guys were OK. We knew we had to get back to 13 position players sooner than later. He was the guy. He'll be back at some point, and pitch in this league for a long time."

De La Rosa, who hasn't pitched since last Saturday in Oakland, is scheduled to pitch Tuesday for Pawtucket.

"It wasn't an easy conversation," Farrell said of breaking the news to De La Rosa, "but to Rubby's credit, he looks at himself as a pitcher who needs to pitch, whether it was here or in Pawtucket. He did everything in his power to impact the decision, and the additional days in the major leagues are a reflection of [how we were] trying to find a fit for him. It was a difficult decision, but that means we have quality guys to choose from."


Who should be the Red Sox's No. 5 starter, assuming Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz and Brandon Workman are in the rotation?


Discuss (Total votes: 3,188)

Peavy has endured difficult stretches before and bounced back. He also noted that the past two Cy Young Award winners in the American League, Justin Verlander (2012) and David Price (2013), have had their issues this season, too.

Verlander was winless in five June starts, going 0-3 with a 6.82 ERA. Price has reeled off five straight starts with 10 strikeouts or more, but he also has yielded an AL-leading 17 home runs, one more than Peavy.

De La Rosa is scheduled to pitch Tuesday for Pawtucket. With the Red Sox having an off-day Thursday, he would be on track to take Peavy's next turn on Sunday, should the Sox elect to make a move then. It would require an injury to do so. Once a player is optioned back to the minors, he must remain there for a minimum of 10 days before he can be recalled, except in the case of an injury.

Nine of Peavy's 16 starts have been quality starts (6 innings or more, 3 earned runs or fewer), but only two of the past nine have fit that definition. Manager John Farrell pointed out, correctly, that a pitcher often has limited control over his won-loss record, and the Red Sox have given Peavy an average of 3.19 runs in run support, according to

Peavy has pitched much better at home (0-2, 3.91 ERA in 8 starts) than he has on the road (1-4, 6.00 ERA in 8 starts).

Asked if his track record had earned him the right to stay in the rotation, Peavy said:

"That ain't for me to decide. It is what it is. I don't know. What we're about is trying to win right now. They've got to do what's best to win right now. I don't know what anybody else is saying. We'll see. It's not for me to decide."

Asked if he still has Farrell's confidence, Peavy said: "I don't have a comment there. I would like to think so."
NEW YORK -- Jake Peavy is scheduled to take his regular turn on Monday night in Fenway Park against the Chicago Cubs, said manager John Farrell, who abandoned plans to restore left-hander Felix Doubront to the rotation and said the team is still trying to figure out what to do with rookie Rubby De La Rosa.

De La Rosa has not pitched since last Saturday, after back-to-back strong starts in which he held the Twins to one hit in seven scoreless innings and allowed the Athletics a run on four hits in seven innings in his last start. Farrell has given every indication that De La Rosa has pitched well enough to warrant staying here, but for now the Sox pitching is lined up as Peavy on Monday, Clay Buchholz on Tuesday and Brandon Workman on Wednesday.


Who should be the Red Sox's No. 5 starter, assuming Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz and Brandon Workman are in the rotation?


Discuss (Total votes: 3,188)

Peavy has outstanding career numbers against the Cubs, going 7-4 with a 2.76 ERA in 17 career starts. The Cubs roughed him up in his only start against them in 2013, when he was pitching for the White Sox and faced the Cubs in Wrigley Field, where he allowed six runs on eight hits in four innings.

Peavy has won just once in 16 starts this season, his overall record 1-6 with a 4.93 ERA. In June, he is 0-4 with a 5.87 ERA in five starts, and was routed for seven runs on eight hits, including two home runs, in five innings last Tuesday night in Seattle.

It appears the Sox have decided to give him at least one more start before taking the drastic step of removing the former Cy Young Award winner from the rotation, though De La Rosa is a tantalizing option. Peavy is being paid $14.5 million this season, which means the Sox likely would take a significant financial hit if they trade him, although there are no talks currently percolating, according to a club source. Another option would be to find a creative way to place Peavy on the disabled list, giving him time à la Clay Buchholz.

Peavy has a lot of mileage on his gifted right arm -- this season he went over 2,000 innings, his total now at 2,043 innings. But he has fought his way back from rough patches before, and with his fierce competitive nature, the Sox may be hesitant to quit on him too soon.

Barring an injury, the Sox may have no other option but to return De La Rosa to Pawtucket, probably while offering assurances that his demotion will be a short-lived one. Farrell has said the club wants to get back to its full complement of 13 position players, and hinted that move could come as soon as Saturday.

Doubront, meanwhile, has been told he will remain in the bullpen, Farrell said, the change in plans a result of the Sox designating veteran Chris Capuano for assignment. Doubront would maintain the Sox quota of three lefties in the pen, along with Andrew Miller and Craig Breslow.

"His initial reaction suggests that -- he does view himself as a starter," Farrell said. "But as it was explained to him, that's where our need currently is, in the bullpen for him, and as well as other guys in our rotation are ahead of him.

"There are ways to get back into the rotation. That's to pitch your way back into it."

Peavy's bottom line isn't pretty

June, 25, 2014
Jun 25

SEATTLE -- Manager John Farrell, in contemplating how the Red Sox can make room on the roster for young starters Brandon Workman and Rubby De La Rosa, noted Tuesday this is a bottom-line business. Results, in other words, matter.

Bottom line, Jake Peavy hasn’t been getting the results.

Tuesday’s outcome: The Seattle Mariners routed the Red Sox for the second straight night, 8-2. The Sox are 1-5 on this trip, 9-14 in June, 15-24 on the road. They are 8 ˝ games behind the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East.

Body by Jake: Sixteen starts into the 2014 season, Peavy has one win. The Sox have lost eight of his last nine starts. He has lost six straight decisions, the longest such streak of his career. After the Mariners took him deep twice Tuesday, he has allowed 16 home runs, tied for most in the American League.

Peavy fights, scratches, cusses and competes. Most nights he has given the Sox a chance. This was only the fifth start he has left with the Sox behind by more than two runs. With a better win-loss record, he would qualify as a perfectly serviceable No. 4 starter.

[+] EnlargeJake Peavy
AP Photo/Elaine ThompsonJake Peavy heads back to the mound as Seattle's Brad Miller scores one of seven runs yielded by Peavy in five innings.
With a 1-6 record and 4.93 ERA, that case becomes tougher to make. Especially after a night in which he was rocked in five innings for seven runs and eight hits, including home runs by Kyle Seager and Mike Zunino. Seattle had scored 13 runs on its recently completed five-game trip. They’ve scored 20 runs in two games against the Sox. Seager’s home run struck the glassed-in Hit It Here Café in the second deck in right field.

Would the Sox contemplate taking Peavy out of the rotation, even temporarily?

“We just ended here about 10 minutes ago,’’ Farrell said. “We’re considering everything available to us. We know by early afternoon a roster move has to be made, we’ll take a look at everything.’’

The Sox have to make a roster move to open a spot for Clay Buchholz, who comes off the disabled list to start here Wednesday night.

Peavy fell behind, 2-0, in the first inning after a leadoff single by Endy Chavez, a walk and a ground ball by Seager that took a bad hop over Mike Napoli’s glove for an RBI double. Logan Morrison’s sacrifice fly accounted for the second run.

Chavez tripled into the right-field corner for a third run in the second inning, but it was a 3-2 game in the fifth when Seager unloaded with two runners aboard for his 11th home run. Two batters later, Zunino cleared the left-field fence with his 10th home run. Seager and Zunino are the only two hitters in the Seattle lineup who have reached double figures in home runs, but that still gives the weak-hitting Mariners one more than the Sox, who have David Ortiz (17) and no one else.

“I settled in [after the first] and felt better,’’ Peavy said. “But I got in trouble and made a bad pitch to Seager. I was trying to be too fine, trying to save every last run you can save, but you try to throw a cutter and overthrow it, and it stays middle in.

“It’s not fun. There’s nothing fun about getting beat, especially when you don’t do your job and get beat. It’s frustrating when you get beat, playing from behind all night.’’

Holt ... and little else: Brock Holt hit a two-run home run in the fourth, his second home run of the season, to account for the Sox runs. Holt also doubled. After scoring seven runs in Oakland Sunday, the Sox have gone dry again. They’ve scored three runs or fewer in 10 of their last 11 games, Sunday’s game the only outlier.

Empty calories: A.J. Pierzynski came to the plate with nine runners on base. None of them scored.

[+] EnlargeA.J. Pierzynski
Otto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesA.J. Pierzynski, who stranded nine runners, grounds out with the bases loaded to end the top of the first.
He came up in the first inning with the bases loaded, Seattle starter Erasmo Ramirez having issued three walks. Pierzynski swung at the first pitch and grounded to second to end the inning. He came to the plate with runners on first and second in the third and flied to right for the third out. He chased an off-speed pitch off the plate to strike out with runners on first and second with one out in the fifth. And first-pitch swinging again, he popped out in foul territory with runners on the corners with one out in the seventh.

“Look, I know I haven’t hit the way I know I can hit and somebody’s going to pay,’’ said Pierzynski, 1-for-18 on the trip and an overall slash line of .250/.280/.357/.637. “Hopefully it starts tomorrow, but I know we have better hitters than we put out there and I believe these guys are going to get going.’’

Pierzynski saw nine pitches in his four at-bats and has seen 44 in 20 plate appearances on the trip.

“We know A.J.’s an aggressive hitter,’’ Farrell said. “We kind of live and die with aggressiveness in his case. When he’s hot, it’s very productive.’’

Pierzynski said that in the first, he got exactly the pitch he was looking for, in the location he wanted it, from Ramirez, a changeup down and in.

“I was 100 percent sure he was going to throw me a changeup,’’ he said. “I was 100 percent looking for it. He threw it where I wanted it. It just didn’t work out. Next time, I’ll take my chances again and I’ll get it next time.

“If I take a better swing at that pitch and hit it up the middle and there’s two runs on the board, you guys [reporters] are like, ‘Wow, good hitting.’ I’m not playing that game anymore. I’m going to play the game the way I’ve played it the last 15 years and not listen to what other people say.’’

Pierzynski’s on-base percentage dropped below .300 for the first time last season, when he posted an OBP of .297 with the Rangers. Pierzynski (.280) and fellow catcher David Ross (.237) have the lowest OBPs of anyone on the team with 50 or more at-bats.

Drew still dragging: Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew went 0-for-3 and is now hitless in his last 23 at-bats.

A good night for JBJ: Rookie center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. had two line-drive singles and made a leaping catch at the center-field fence of Logan Morrison’s drive to end the seventh.

Doubie in relief: Felix Doubront, sent to the bullpen for the next two series, pitched two scoreless innings.

A.J., Sox come up a little short in Oakland

June, 20, 2014
Jun 20
A.J. PierzynskiAP Photo/Ben Margot
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Dustin Pedroia was on second base after a one-out double, and the Boston Red Sox, trailing Oakland 4-2, were down to their last out Thursday night when A.J. Pierzynski came to the plate.

A's reliever Dan Otero threw a first-pitch changeup, and Pierzynski ripped it on a line to center field. Pierzynski thought he hit it out, but former Red Sox center fielder Coco Crisp made a catch at the wall.

"I hit that ball good," Pierzynski said. "The guy jumped up at the top of the wall and caught it. What can you do? Just frustrating, you know?"

The Red Sox used back-to-back home runs by David Ortiz and Mike Napoli in the bottom of the 10th inning Wednesday to beat the Twins 2-1 and sweep that three-game series.

Those timely blasts didn't signal an end to Boston's offensive slump. The Sox scored five runs in those three wins against Minnesota and have now scored a combined seven runs in their past four games. The Red Sox came into the game batting .244, tied for 11th in the American League.

[+] EnlargeDustin Pedroia
Jason O. Watson/Getty ImagesDustin Pedroia circles the bases after hitting a two-run homer off Scott Kazmir.
Pedroia had two of Boston's five hits against Oakland, a two-run homer off left-hander Scott Kazmir in the sixth and the double off Otero.

Kazmir struck out eight, walked none and gave up just two runs on four hits, improving to 9-2.

"We faced a tough pitcher," Pedroia said. "To be honest with you, I think our at-bats weren't that bad. We had some guys hit some balls at people. We got to find a way to have a big inning and get some momentum."

Red Sox manager John Farrell said he thought he was watching some more ninth-inning magic when the ball left Pierzynski's bat in the ninth.

"Off the bat I thought it was gone," Farrell said. "It could have been off the wall. Coco runs it down, and he's in that spot right where if it had a little more elevation it's a tie game."

Red Sox right-hander Jake Peavy had a decent start, allowing four runs, just three of them earned, over 6 1/3 innings while striking out four and walking three. He gave up a solo home run to A's left fielder Yoenis Cespedes in the third inning. Then in the fourth, former Red Sox shortstop Jed Lowrie hit a one-out double and scored on Stephen Vogt's bloop single with two outs.

The way the Red Sox are hitting, Peavy needed to be much better to avoid losing his fifth straight decision. He fell to 1-5 and hasn't won a game since April 25 at Toronto.

"We know the situation we've been in as a team," Peavy said. "Going out there you can't put your team too far behind. I certainly try not to do that. Kazmir was good."

[+] EnlargeJake Peavy
AP Photo/Ben MargotJake Peavy gave the Sox a chance Thursday night but fell to 1-5.
Peavy said he "physically didn't feel very good" in the early innings but found a better rhythm later in the game.

"I thought Jake battled, kept multi-runs off the board in any given inning," Farrell said. "He pitched around some trouble at times. Once again, we're in the ballgame going into the seventh inning. We didn't have too many opportunities. Kazmir has got a year started, halfway through. You see what he's put up not just against us but throughout the season so far. Once again, we're scrambling to create some opportunities."

And once again, Peavy came away with a loss.

"I don't feel sorry for myself one bit," Peavy said. "I got to get better and got to find a way to win."

Peavy blamed himself for a defensive mistake in the second inning that led to an unearned A's run. He gave up a leadoff single to Josh Donaldson, who lined a ball off the left-field fence, a foot from going out, then walked Lowrie.

Catcher Derek Norris then hit a hard ground ball back to Peavy. But instead of throwing to second to start a likely double play, he threw to third for the force. Third baseman Xander Bogaerts caught Peavy's throw on the run then made an off-balance throw to first for an error. Both runners advanced, and Lowrie scored on a ground out.

"If I go to second base on the ground ball, we probably don't give up a run on that unearned run," Peavy said.

Peavy solid but bullpen can't pick him up

June, 14, 2014
Jun 14
BOSTON -- When all was said and done after the first six innings of Saturday's game, Red Sox right-hander Jake Peavy had done his part on the mound.

He pitched a quality outing, holding the Cleveland Indians offense to one run on seven hits. He battled through tough spots, keeping their bats hitless in seven chances with runners in scoring position. Above all, he left with a chance to pick up a win, one that would be his first since April 25 against the Toronto Blue Jays.

[+] EnlargeJake Peavy
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesJake Peavy turned in his best performance Saturday in almost two months but had nothing to show for it as the Sox bullpen couldn't protect a one-run lead.
However, in his own words, things weren't meant to be for that win to go down in the books.

In a series of frustrating events, the Red Sox lost the one-run lead Peavy staked them to in the seventh inning, allowing two unearned runs to score and leaving Peavy winless for the ninth consecutive start in their eventual 3-2 loss. The right-hander remains at 1-4 on the season, the lowest number of wins among American League pitchers with 14 or more games started.

"Wins and losses are all that matter," Peavy said. "We lost so obviously there's disappointment anytime that goes down."

Entering Saturday's contest, the Red Sox offense had averaged 3.19 runs with Peavy on the mound, the second-lowest mark among starters in the AL. With the team mustering only two runs against Cleveland left-hander T.J. House, it was more of the same for Peavy, who voiced his frustration.

"Obviously it's been tough to score on my day, that's something I'm not going to shy away from," Peavy said. "I'm not blaming anybody. I've got to be better. The guys have got to be better on my day to find a way to win. It's frustrating, there's no doubt. At the end of the day it's frustrating to lose."

Although Peavy refrained from pointing the finger, several of his teammates owned up to their roles in the loss. Craig Breslow, who came on in relief of Peavy in the seventh and was charged with the two runs, said it's his and the rest of the bullpen's job to maintain a lead regardless of the circumstances. Meanwhile, catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who committed a key error in the seventh on a tag at home plate to allow the tying run to score, was particularly hard on himself.

"[Peavy] was great, he deserved a win," Pierzynski said. "He battled the whole six innings, one run. He left with the lead. We had a chance to shut them down and we didn't do it. It's all my fault."

After being told what Pierzynski said, Peavy stood up for his battery mate, acknowledging that "stuff happens." Still, having grinded through an Indians lineup that stacked five lefties and three switch-hitters against him, resulting in 25 of the 28 batters he faced batting from the left side of the box, Peavy knew that he had done his job.

"You just try to do what you can do to win," he said. "We'll try to do as much as we can to get ready for Oakland and give us a chance to win."

Sloppy seventh inning is Sox's undoing

June, 14, 2014
Jun 14

BOSTON -- Much of the season for the Boston Red Sox has been about searching for positives amid an otherwise negative campaign. On Saturday against Cleveland, that search was not difficult. With the exception of the seventh inning.

There were many silver linings in the 3-2 loss. Jake Peavy had perhaps his best start in over two months, even if he had to wiggle out of trouble in a few innings. For the most part, the defense was sound. And Boston created plenty of chances against five Indians pitchers. Alas, those chances too often came and went without a run and a few plays in the seventh proved to be the difference.

"We played great team baseball," said Peavy, who allowed a run in six innings and left with a 2-1 lead. "So many good plays, everybody was in the right position, playing hard. Just wasn't meant to be today."

Peavy helped contribute to an 0-for-11 showing with runners in scoring position for Cleveland. Once he left, however, an unfortunate series of events made his chance for his first win since April 25 vanish.

[+] EnlargeA.J. Pierzynski
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesA.J. Pierzynski's error on Dustin Pedroia's throw home allowed the tying run to score.
The Indians opened the seventh against Craig Breslow with Asdrubal Cabrera's infield hit on a ball that Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli could not scoop. Shortstop Jonathan Herrera made a great stop on the ball and the throw beat Cabrera, but the sure-handed Napoli could not pull in the one-hopper.

Another single put runners on the corners and set up the key play of the game. Jason Kipnis grounded one to Dustin Pedroia, who was playing in just a tad at second base. Pedroia could've gone to second base for an easy double play, conceding the tying run but setting the Sox up for a quicker escape.

That's not Pedroia's nature, however, and his throw home to nail Cabrera looked to be a wise choice as it beat the runner by a few steps. Catcher A.J. Pierzynski was unable to hang on and the tying run scored without an out being recorded, opening the door for the Indians to inflict more damage.

Pedroia said his momentum was pulling him to the first-base side and it caused him to yank the throw a bit. Pierzynski, who was charged with an error, pinned all the blame on himself.

"Pedroia made a great play and I tried to make a tag and missed the ball," Pierzynski said. "I just missed it. Pedey made a great play, that's why he's a Gold Glover and that's why I'm not."

That made for two agonizing plays that could have been made and maybe even should have been made, both going against Boston. When Breslow walked the bases and Junichi Tazawa came on to walk in the go-ahead run, they loomed even larger. That's not to say there was any second-guessing.

"Pedey felt like he's got a chance to cut down the runner at home," manager John Farrell said. "Throw was on the backhand side of A.J., just enough to where he doesn't field clean. But can't second-guess that. That's a good, aggressive defensive play.

"Unfortunately we started to nitpick a little bit on the strike zone. Taz just misses a couple of fastballs to [Carlos] Santana for the difference in this one."

Breslow had not worked since June 7 but Farrell was confident bringing him in to protect the 2-1 lead.

"There's complete confidence in him, he had had good success against that part of the lineup," Farrell said. "A couple of ground balls found their way through, and the walk to [David] Murphy puts us in a bases-loaded situation unfortunately. I'd still go back to Bres in that situation again."

Farrell could also express confidence in the results of one of his other big decisions on the day, that being the somewhat unorthodox maneuver to give Brock Holt a start in right field, a position he had never played.

Holt made a couple of challenging catches and also played every hop, carom and roller along the wall with aplomb. He manned the position well enough and handled his various opportunities such that the Indians were never able to push the issue on several balls hit down the line. That's a tricky area for players with whom it is unfamiliar, but Holt had the look of a seasoned veteran.

Group that with Peavy's positive step after a relatively rough stretch, nine hits for an offense that has shown signs of life in the series, and several other solid plays in the field and the Sox had plenty to feel good about.

"Jake gives a quality start, thought he and A.J. worked well together," Farrell said. "We played some very good defense behind him, particularly [Napoli] at first and Brock out in right field. He cut down 90 extra feet that they could've taken. Just ... we came up short."

That's been a theme often in 2014. On Saturday, at the very least, there was no need to second-guess and no issues finding a few positives.

Peavy sharp in season-high eight innings

May, 30, 2014
May 30
BOSTON -- Having spent 13 seasons in the majors, Red Sox starter Jake Peavy knows when it's his time to step up.

After Clay Buchholz eventually ended up on the disabled list after his ineffective start on Monday (eight walks in three innings pitched), Peavy recognized what his role as a starter was to the rest of the team.

[+] EnlargeJake Peavy
AP Photo/Winslow TownsonJake Peavy pitched a season-high eight innings in Boston's 4-3 win, though he settled for a no-decision.
"We've used our bullpen an awful lot," Peavy said. "We know as starters we've got to go out and give our team [a strong effort] to win. [Jon] Lester and [John] Lackey have been doing that and I expect to do the same."

Lester and Lackey both did their part with wins against the Braves on Tuesday and Wednesday. Although he didn't get a win Thursday, Peavy did his part in helping the Red Sox walk away with a 4-3 win that sealed a four-game sweep of the Braves. The right-hander went a season-high eight innings, allowing three runs on eight hits and posting his seventh quality start this season.

"I thought Jake was in control of this game right from the start," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "He's a veteran guy. You begin to have a certain expectation and dependability that Jake has shown over the course of his career."

Peavy faced little challenge his first time through the Braves lineup, allowing only a leadoff single in the second that failed to materialize into anything for Atlanta. However, in his second time up against Peavy, Braves leadoff man Jason Heyward crushed a hanging changeup over the right field wall to give Atlanta a 1-0 lead in the third.

After a leadoff walk to start the fourth inning, Peavy once again found himself battling, this time against a balk call by second-base umpire Bob Davidson. Believing that there was no way he balked, Peavy wasted no time walking toward Davidson to argue the call, prompting second baseman Dustin Pedroia to run in and turn him back to the mound before the pitcher could say too much. The balk eventually led to a run as Braves catcher Evan Gattis singled with one out to put the Braves up 2-0.

"I didn't feel like I balked. That cost a run," Peavy said. "I didn't do anything. I didn't feel anything, I didn't move. I didn't feel like I made any kind of balk move at all."

However, Davidson, commonly referred to as "Balkin' Bob" for his frequent balk calls, seemed to believe differently.

"Bob Davidson likes calling balks, I think we've established that at this point in time," Peavy said. "I didn't get an explanation, I was too upset. I didn't think I should probably talk to Bob anymore."

Instead of letting his frustration derail him, Peavy settled in, retiring seven consecutive Braves hitters at one point between the fifth and the seventh innings and entering the eighth inning for the first time this season at 97 pitches. After giving up a leadoff single to B.J. Upton, who came around to score on a Freddie Freeman double, Peavy got the next three Braves hitters to ground out and finish his night.

"Even with two outs in the eighth inning, pitch count climbing up, he makes a good pitch to [Chris] Johnson to leave a guy standing at third base that looms large," Farrell said. "You point back to Jake Peavy's eight innings giving us an opportunity to win this game tonight."

The going gets tougher for snakebit Sox

May, 25, 2014
May 25

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- So, if scoring five runs in the first inning against Tampa Bay's David Price, one of the best left-handers in baseball, isn't sufficient to end a losing streak, what exactly is Plan B?

How about trying to win with a minor league call-up making his fourth big league start, backed by a tapped-out bullpen and a lineup that when healthy wasn't producing, and now has a huge fault line running right down its middle?

Those are the prospects Sunday facing the Boston Red Sox, who went 15 excruciating innings Saturday before losing their ninth straight game, 6-5, to the Tampa Bay Rays, a team that made franchise history with its third straight walk-off win while Andrew Miller extended a run of personal agony unmatched by any Sox reliever in at least 40 years, if ever.

[+] EnlargeAndrew Miller
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsAndrew Miller has been on the hook for four walk-off losses in 11 days.
Miller has now been charged with four losses in the span of 11 days, the most losses of any American League reliever, and all have come in walk-off fashion -- two in Minnesota, one in each of the first two games here. The one Saturday was particularly torturous: Miller gave up a leadoff single to James Loney, who grounded a ball through a vacant spot in Boston's shifted infield. Brandon Guyer then lay down a bunt that went undisturbed by either third baseman Brock Holt or Miller, each thinking the other was going to make a play.

The next batter, Desmond Jennings -- who on Friday night drew a walk off Miller, stole second and scored the winning run on a base hit by rookie Cole Figueroa off Burke Badenhop -- hit a comebacker to the left-hander, who fielded it cleanly, whirled and threw the ball past an uncovered second base into center field.

A pale-looking Miller lamented that he was unable to hold up on his throw when he realized that neither shortstop Jonathan Herrera nor second baseman Dustin Pedroia had arrived at the bag.

"Perfect storm," he said. "It happens. You'd like to think you could do something different about it. If I check up and get the out at first, I can still get a strikeout or a popup or put somebody on and still get the double play.

"We have options. Just the way it unfolded, I didn't react quick enough to shut it down, to realize I didn't have a play, or didn't like the play I had."

That ended a 5-hour, 16-minute exercise in which neither team had scored since the fifth inning. The Red Sox, who were missing Mike Napoli, David Ortiz and Shane Victorino, managed just two hits after the first inning, and advanced only one baserunner to second base the rest of the way, when Holt chopped a ball over the head of pitcher Cesar Ramos in the 13th and Ramos threw wildly to first. The Sox could not exploit that error, Ramos recovering to strike out Herrera and Mike Carp sandwiched around an intentional walk to Pedroia. The Sox went down on strikes 16 times, and from the ninth inning on had two strikeouts in four innings.

[+] EnlargeJake Peavy
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsHanded a 5-0 first-inning lead, Jake Peavy gave it all back over six innings.
"There is no 'give up' in this group," Farrell said. "You do the best you can with what you have, where you are. That's the mode we're in right now."

The Rays' clubhouse reverberated with shouts after Miller's misplay made them winners.

"He's been through a tough stretch," Farrell said. "No question. Every [late] inning situation he's in, he's coming up on the short end. We're aware of it. We're conscious of it. We've got to go with who's available.

"The stuff is there -- there's no backing up the stuff. He's not catching a break right now, nor are we."

And so, with the Sox now eight games under .500 (20-28) and seven games behind first-place Toronto, they search for a way to avoid a third straight series sweep. Right-hander Brandon Workman, who started three games last season for the Sox and has had so-so results in Pawtucket this spring, is Sunday's emergency starter, Felix Doubront having gone on the disabled list after losing a one-on-one confrontation with a car door last week. The Sox went through seven relievers Saturday, so they were casting about for a way to keep another minor league call-up, reliever Alex Wilson, here for another day so they'd have at least one fresh arm behind Workman.

The lineup is in disarray. Right fielder Victorino went on the disabled list for a second time in less than two months with a strained right hamstring, prompting the recall of Daniel Nava; Victorino's first stint on the DL lasted 22 games. First baseman Napoli may soon join him on the DL as the roster move required to keep Wilson; unless the Sox can somehow get creative, that is the most obvious path available.

Farrell said Napoli is still bedeviled by the flu-like symptoms that sidelined him for two games last week, has hamstring and calf issues, and has never given the dislocated ring finger on his left hand a chance to fully heal, because he's tried to play through it.

Admirable, to be sure, but Napoli hasn't been the same hitter since dislocating the finger with a headfirst slide into second base April 15 in Chicago against the White Sox. Since then, Napoli has continued to draw his share of walks -- 24, which matches the number of hits he has gotten in that span -- but has just two home runs and 13 RBIs in that time.

[+] EnlargeA.J. Pierzynski
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsThe Sox seemed to be sitting pretty after A.J. Pierzynski's three-run homer, but the Rays rattled off six unanswered runs to hand Boston its ninth loss in a row.
"It's impacted [him]," Farrell said before Saturday's loss. "To what extent, it's hard to say, but ever since the injury it's pretty clear. He's not one to make excuses, but at the same time coming off the flu and everything he's dealing with, he needs at least a couple more days. This isn't a one-day thing; we're hopeful it's not 15."

In addition to Victorino and Napoli, DH Ortiz also sat in what Farrell called a planned day off to deal with a calf issue, though Ortiz did pinch hit for Jackie Bradley Jr. in the 10th and grounded out. Given Ortiz's numbers against Price (8-for-37, .216, no home runs), and the fact he had just one broken-bat single in his past 19 at-bats, the decision to rest him made sense. And when the Sox piled on Price for five runs in the first, the last three coming on A.J. Pierzynski's first three-run home run of the season (he also has a grand slam), it looked like the Sox might get away with their undermanned lineup.

But the Rays pecked away with single runs against Jake Peavy in the second and fourth, then tied the score in the fifth with three straight singles and a two-run double by Guyer, who whacked a hanging full-count curveball after Peavy had jumped ahead in the count, 0-2.

"That's the pitch," Peavy said, "that's going to haunt me all night."

The Sox clubhouse hasn't exactly turned into a ghost town, but without the music that blares after a win, it has become eerily quiet.

"I feel like I've got what, four losses, attached to my name in the last 11 days," said Miller, who had struck out Matt Joyce to end the 14th, the eighth straight inning in which seven Sox relievers had held the Rays scoreless, on four hits.

"That [stinks]. The goal is to win, not to feel good about yourself afterwards. Right now I'm the one who has been stuck on the field a bunch of times, and it feels like crap. I don't want to be there anymore. My job there is to put up a zero, however you get there, and I didn't do it.

"We're grinding it out. It's tough. Nobody wants to lose a game, let alone a streak we're on right now. All 25 guys, we're in a hole we've got to dig ourselves out of. I'm as much a part of that as anybody."

Gentlemen, start your shovels.

Peavy, Sox need to do better

May, 19, 2014
May 19

BOSTON -- David Ortiz, the elder statesman of the Boston Red Sox, was 7 years old the last time the Sox were swept at home by the Detroit Tigers prior to this weekend’s one-sided set, which culminated in a 6-2 Detroit victory Sunday night.

While that alone is quite notable, there is much more to take away from the weekend. Here are some reactions to the game, the series and the current state of the Sox, who fell to 20-23.

Pet Peavy: Starter Jake Peavy was knocked around for five runs on 11 hits in six innings. Detroit boasts a monstrous offense, but the fact that Peavy is giving up roughly two hits a frame over his past two starts, and that he has allowed a home run in every outing this season, is worth addressing.

So what’s the primary issue?

“The one thing Jake doesn’t do is back away from whoever is in the box at a given moment,” manager John Farrell said. “You can probably point to some mislocated pitches. That’s when balls go out of the ballpark. They haven’t gotten to the intended area. Setting aside tonight and the five runs allowed, Jake, regardless of the home runs allowed, he has pitched well for us to put us in a position to keep the game in control. ... Against quality major league hitters when you don’t locate, that’s what can happen.”

Peavy agreed with that assessment.

“Bad pitches. As my career has went on, I get the ball hit in the air just as much, even more so, than I get the ball on the ground,” he said. “Got to do a better job of keeping the ball in the ballpark. For the most part those home runs have been solo shots and haven’t kept me from having quality starts. Got to do a better job of keeping the ball in the ballpark, that’s for sure. I expect to do that.”

[+] EnlargeDavid Ortiz
AP Photo/Michael DwyerThe first four-game losing streak since 2012 has brought out some frustration from David Ortiz and the Red Sox.
Road warriors: The Tigers have won 11 straight on the road and are clicking on all cylinders. It is difficult to find an issue with the AL Central heavyweights.

“They’re very good,” Farrell said. “There doesn’t appear to be a weak link. Their bullpen pitched outstanding. Their defense overall played very well. Starting rotation was strong. And as well as the top half of that lineup is swinging the bat right now, they’re a very good team.”

The quartet of Ian Kinsler, Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez combined to go 17-for-38 with three home runs atop the order over the final two games of the series.

Stumbling Sox: Boston’s four-game losing streak is its longest in Farrell’s tenure. The Sox were outscored 13-3 in the series and outhit 32-16. The team that played so flawlessly throughout 2013 looked completely inferior to its opponent in falling to 10-14 at Fenway Park.

“We’ve got to regroup, we’ve got to be better in all phases as Toronto comes in here and that’s a team that’s been playing well,” Farrell said of Tuesday’s opponent, the only AL East team with a positive run differential. “Collectively we have to be better all the way around.”

Frustration setting in?: The Sox clubhouse was an exceptionally dormant place Sunday night into Monday morning. Getting whipped three straight can prompt quite a reality check.

“Everybody that’s in here is frustrated, we get frustrated when we lose,” Peavy said. “Detroit’s as good a team in baseball, you have to play flawless baseball to beat them. Obviously we didn’t do that in any game and that’s frustrating. The guys in here certainly aren’t anything other than frustrated.

“We believe we have the talent and we’re going to keep working. Tomorrow’s a day off, we can get our breath back and get going against Toronto. Still a lot of ball left to be played, there’s nothing more than frustration. The biggest thing you’ve got to do is channel that frustration the right way and work hard to come out of it.”

Slumped over: Among those struggling the most at the plate is first baseman Mike Napoli, who is 9-for-51 with no home runs this month.

Catcher A.J. Pierzynski is 2-for-25 over a seven-game span.

Outfielder Grady Sizemore was 1-for-12 in the series.

Outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is 1-for-13 with six strikeouts over a four-game stretch.

Running game restart: Farrell recently put an effective end to the running game until the team could figure out some of its woes on the bases and pick and choose the right moments to get moving again. The engines finally revved back up Sunday as both Shane Victorino and Brock Holt swiped bags in the first two stolen base attempts for the team in more than a week.

Baserunning was one of the unsung qualities of the 2013 team, but this year’s squad has become almost station-to-station. Maybe the dashes by Victorino and Holt will begin to open things up.

2014 versus 2013: The players are probably tired of comparing their past two campaigns. However, some of the disparities among win-loss records are striking. Here are a few:

• In 2013, the Sox were 65-43 against right-handed starters. They are 10-19 this year.
• In 2013, they were 75-11 when scoring five or more runs. They are 13-6 this year.
• In 2013, they were 62-31 when hitting a home run. They are 13-12 this year.
• In 2013, they were 32-21 in series finales. They are 5-9 this year.

Jake Peavy

BOSTON -- The Detroit Tigers are looking for a Sunday sweep of this 2013 American League Championship Series rematch with the Boston Red Sox, having won 1-0 on Friday and 6-1 on Saturday behind dominant pitching.

Two all-too-familiar adversaries will be dueling in the finale.

The defending world champion Red Sox will try to muster some offense against Anibal Sanchez, who will make his first start since going on the 15-day disabled list on April 27 with blister problems on his right middle finger. Sanchez left the third inning of a game against Minnesota the day before, having allowed no hits through 2⅔ innings.

His counterpart, Jake Peavy, is looking to shake off some rust as well -- and regain command on his sputtering two-seamer -- in what has been a turbulent May that followed a solid April. In three starts this month, he is 0-1 with a 5.94 ERA, with just nine strikeouts and 11 walks.

Jake Peavy, Anibal Sanchez
Getty ImagesJake Peavy and Anibal Sanchez are set to face off on "Sunday Night Baseball."
For the season, Sanchez is 0-2 with a 3.13 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 23 innings. Peavy has made eight starts and is 1-1 with a 3.94 ERA, striking out 41 batters in 48 innings and allowing eight home runs.

Sanchez, of course, initially came up through the Red Sox system before being shipped off to the Marlins following the 2005 season, as part of the deal that brought Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston in exchange for Hanley Ramirez. On Sept. 6, 2006, Sanchez no-hit the Arizona Diamondbacks in his 13th career start, the only no-no of his career.

Since coming to the Tigers before the 2012 trade deadline, Sanchez has pitched well, going 18-16 with a 3.16 ERA. Last season, he finished fourth in AL Cy Young voting after posting a 14-8 record with a 2.57 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 202 strikeouts in 182 innings.

This will be Sanchez's first matchup against the Red Sox since his two battles with them in the ALCS. In Game 1, Sanchez threw six innings of no-hit ball, striking out 12, to pick up the win in a 1-0 Tigers victory. Game 5 was a different story, as he surrendered nine hits and four runs (three earned), including a two-run homer to Mike Napoli, in a 4-3 loss.

Sanchez's lone regular-season appearance against the Sox came in his second career start with the Marlins. He was roughed up for seven runs on eight hits over 4⅓ innings, including three homers, in an 11-5 Sox win. Among current Red Sox, Shane Victorino has had the most luck, putting up .233/.298/.326 totals with a homer and two RBIs in 43 at bats. Only one other current Sox player, David Ross, has registered more than 10 regular season plate appearances versus Sanchez.

Earlier this week, Boston flipped Peavy and Felix Doubront in the pitching rotation, setting up Peavy for this Sunday night battle (8 p.m. on ESPN). He hopes to do better than his last start against the Tigers, Game 4 of the ALCS, in which he was shelled for seven runs (all earned) in three innings of a 7-3 Tigers victory.

The Tigers know Peavy quite well from his tenure with the Chicago White Sox from 2009 to 2013. In the regular season against the Tigers, Peavy is 4-5 with a 4.83 ERA, allowing 13 homers and striking out 78 in 76⅓ innings.

It's no surprise that Miguel Cabrera has found the most success against Peavy among current Tigers. The reigning AL MVP has put up .289/.347/.511 totals with three home runs and nine RBIs in 45 career at-bats against the veteran right-hander.

The Red Sox have been struggling at the plate, as Xander Bogaerts' fifth-inning solo home run Saturday night broke an 18-inning scoreless streak, the only run for Boston in a 6-1 loss in which they stranded 12 runners.

Following up reigning AL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer's three-hit, seven-inning gem on Friday night, Rick Porcello was sharp in eight innings Saturday, scattering six hits and striking out four while surrendering Boston's lone run.

Red Sox flip-flop Peavy, Doubront

May, 13, 2014
May 13
The Red Sox made a change Tuesday, flip-flopping Jake Peavy and Felix Doubront in the rotation. Peavy will now start tonight’s series opener in Minnesota and Doubront will pitch Wednesday.

The switch means the right-handed Peavy will face the Tigers next Sunday night at Fenway instead of the southpaw Doubront. The Tigers are hitting an AL-best .293 against lefties. For the record, they also lead the AL in batting average against righties (.274).

Here is tonight’s Red Sox lineup:

1. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
2. Shane Victorino, RF
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Mike Napoli, 1B
5. Grady Sizemore, LF
6. A.J. Pierzynski, C
7. Xander Bogaerts, SS
8. Will Middlebrooks, 3B
9. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
SP -- Jake Peavy, RHP

Rapid Reaction: Red Sox 4, Reds 3

May, 7, 2014
May 7

BOSTON -- Takeaways from the Fens, where the long New England nightmare is finally over.

After eight failed previous attempts to reach the .500 mark, the defending world champion Red Sox can now proudly declare they have won as many games as they have lost in 2014. The Sox are now 17-17.

The result: It wasn't easy -- of course, it wasn't easy -- but the Sox came from behind to beat the Cincinnati Reds 4-3, their second one-run win by that score over their National League cousins in two nights. And for the second straight night, a struggling Sox hitter came through with a late-inning hit that might give him a much-needed lift.

Middlebrooks delivers: In 14 previous at-bats, third baseman Will Middlebrooks had grounded out nine times, whiffed three times and had two line-drive singles. Wednesday, he'd grounded out to short in the third, hit into an inning-ending double play in the fifth and walked in the seventh. His batting average was down to .200, a drop of 94 percentage points since his first game back from the disabled list.

But Middlebrooks, in a duel with Reds reliever J.J. Hoover, laid off some tough pitches to work a full count, fouled off another tough pitch, then hit a hard shot up the middle for the single that scored Jonny Gomes with the go-ahead run.

The decisive rally: Mike Napoli, who has reached base in a career-best 28 straight games, drew a one-out walk from Reds left-handed reliever Manny Parra. When manager John Farrell sent up Gomes to hit for Grady Sizemore, Reds manager Bryan Price countered with right-hander Hoover. Gomes spoiled that strategy by drawing another walk.

A.J. Pierzynski then hit a ball that one-hopped the low wall along the right-field foul line for a ground-rule double, and Napoli scored the tying run. Rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. was issued an intentional walk to load the bases, and Middlebrooks followed with his base hit.

Customary Koji: Reliever Koji Uehara, who has been something less than his ninja self in recent outings, returned to form in a big way, striking out the side in the ninth to record his eighth save.

BresloWW: Reliever Craig Breslow, who hadn't won a game before this series, was credited with his second win in two nights after pitching a scoreless eighth. The highlight of that inning for the left-hander was inducing the dangerous Joey Votto to ground into a double play after issuing a leadoff walk to Skip Schumaker.

Perils of Peavy: Jake Peavy pitched into the seventh and gave up just four hits but was charged with three runs, two scoring on Skip Schumaker's home run in the third. Peavy departed with the bases loaded and none out in the seventh. One run scored on Roger Bernadina's chopper off lefty Chris Capuano before Burke Badenhop recorded two more ground ball outs to limit the damage.

RISP, not R.I.P.: Three singles, the last by David Ortiz, and a double by Napoli drew the Sox even at two in the sixth before the Reds took the lead again.

Four-K night for Pedey: Dustin Pedroia struck out four times, only the second time in his career he has done so. The other occasion was May 4, 2011, against the Los Angeles Angels.