BOSTON -- For a few years now, the Red Sox have taken a lot of their cues from Dustin Pedroia. So when a big hit was needed on Monday night and the scrappy second baseman provided it, it's no wonder his team broke out from that point on en route to a 9-5 victory over the Angels.
When Pedroia dug in during the bottom of the fifth inning against one of the game's most talented pitchers in Jered Weaver, Boston was down 2-1. There were runners on second and third with two outs, and it was an at-bat Pedroia seemingly refused to lose.
After working the count to 3-2, Pedroia fought off Weaver's nasty arsenal with five consecutive foul balls. And on the 13th pitch of the enthralling at-bat, he laced a two-run single up the middle.
For the rest of the night, it was pretty much all Boston.
"He has a way of doing that," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He fights. He doesn't give in."
Pedroia was 3-for-25 lifetime against Weaver before coming through when his team badly needed him.
"To be honest with you, man, I was just trying to put the ball in play," Pedroia said. "Jered's tough, man. I faced him in college and the first few years in the big leagues, and it doesn't get any better than him. I haven't won too many of those, but it was nice to drive in a couple and kind of get everything going."
With the arsenal that Weaver has, he isn't forced to tip his proverbial cap often, but in this case, that's exactly what he did.
"That's what he does," Weaver said. "He's a great hitter. He didn't win the MVP [in 2008] for nothing. He goes up there and he wants to battle. He's a bulldog. I feel like I'm the same way. He won that battle this time. I'm not going to change anything about how it went down. Like I said, he won the battle."
After the hit, a lot of good things happened for the Red Sox. For starters, in the top of the sixth, after Torii Hunter led off with a double to right-center, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and third baseman Kevin Youkilis combined on a stellar play to thwart a rally. On a grounder by Alberto Callaspo, Gonzalez fired across the diamond to Youkilis, who dug out the low throw to apply the tag on Hunter for a big out.
"I've done that my whole career," Gonzalez said. "It's something that, if they hit it right at me, I take my chances. I've let Youk know since Spring Training to be aware because I will go there -- to be in position. He made an unbelievable pick and applied the tag to get the out."
And in the bottom of the seventh, the Red Sox put the game away with a season-high six-run inning.
Entering the game, Boston had hit a meager .212 with runners in scoring position. But after Pedroia's key hit in the fifth, everyone seemed to relax a little.
Gonzalez ripped a bases-clearing double off the Monster, during which Jacoby Ellsbury crashed in to catcher Jeff Mathis. Pedroia was about two feet behind Ellsbury and scored also.
"Ells needs to get faster because I was creeping up on him. He's getting old. He's losing a step," quipped Pedroia.
In fact, on the aggressive play, Ellsbury suffered a left knee bruise and was forced out of the game for the final two innings. His status for Tuesday is unknown.
After hitting the Green Monster for the first time, Gonzalez was simply happy to give his team some breathing room.
"I didn't get the key hit -- Pedey did," Gonzalez said. "But that was a double that opened it up. He just made a mistake, left the ball over the plate. In that situation, I was trying to get a run in. I was able to get the three runs being as that was a double."
Youkilis drilled a double off the Monster to bring home Gonzalez. And David Ortiz ended his 88 at-bat homer drought by putting one over the wall in left, a two-run shot that made it a 9-2 game.
"Felt good," Ortiz said. "I haven't put the right swing on the ball. I've hit some balls that should've been homers, but they ain't going nowhere. I've just got to keep doing whatever I can until they start showing up. When they show up, they show up in bunches."
Meanwhile, Clay Buchholz produced his first quality start in six tries, scattering eight hits and allowing two runs over 6 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out two, improving his record to 2-3.
Buchholz gave up three straight hits to start the game, but no runs came across. Leadoff man Maicer Izturis notched a base-hit to right-center, but J.D. Drew cut him down trying to stretch it to a double. That helped short-circuit the rally.
"My objective was to go out there and try to pitch to contact, get some ground balls, get some balls hit at people and go from there," said Buchholz. "They found a couple of gaps and some holes early, and that's going to happen. They're an aggressive team. They swing the bat a lot. They've got some pretty good hitters. I just tried to do the little things right and control the controllables and go from there."
The Red Sox were able to put up a run in their half of the first against Weaver. Ellsbury led off with a single and stole second. That put him in position to score on an RBI single to left by Youkilis.
Bobby Abreu tied the game in the third on a two-out RBI single to right.
In the fifth, Buchholz gave up two walks and a hit, and the Angels wound up taking a 2-1 lead on a fielder's-choice grounder by Abreu.
However, Pedroia would get the lead back for the Red Sox, and changed the complexion of the game in doing so.
"It was awesome," Gonzalez said. "It was just one of those things that he battled, battled, battled. You could see Weaver making pitch after pitch, and he just kept fouling them off. Finally he left a fastball away that he could handle. He just took it up the middle. It was great."