BOSTON -- Adrian Gonzalez promised that between those white lines, this was going to be just another game, even if it was against his hometown team -- the one for which he emerged into stardom.
True to his word, Gonzalez stepped up for a pivotal at-bat in the bottom of the seventh and treated the Padres just like he has treated just about all comers this season.
With the game on the line, Gonzalez lofted an RBI double off the Green Monster which snapped a tie and led the Red Sox to a 14-5 victory on Monday night at Fenway Park.
Given the way the night unfolded after that, it was hard to remember this was a 3-3 game heading into the bottom of the seventh. But once Gonzalez put the Red Sox in front, they erupted, scoring 10 runs in the inning.
The emotion of playing against his former team is something the ultra-focused Gonzalez had no problem setting aside when it mattered most.
"You only [banter with teammates] between pitches and once you get ready for the pitch, you refocus," Gonzalez said. "You have about a 10- or 15-second span where you can have fun, and then it's right back to being ready for the game."
It was the latest key hit in what has been a monster season for Gonzalez, and quite a way to put an exclamation point on his first head-to-head encounter with the Padres since the blockbuster trade back in December.
After Jacoby Ellsbury led off the inning with a walk, Dustin Pedroia helped set up Gonzalez with his all-out hustle, narrowly being out what would have been a 6-4-3 double play.
Pedroia then roared all the way around from first on Gonzalez's wall double.
"That seventh inning was all created by Pedey getting to first base on that ground ball," Gonzalez said. "If he's not able to stay away from that double play and get down the line, my double doesn't score the run. There's a runner on second and two outs. And just after that the guys continued to have quality at-bat after quality at-bat and kept the guys moving on down the line."
San Diego's bullpen had a full-blown implosion in that seventh. Righty Ernesto Frieri walked pinch-hitter J.D. Drew to load the bases, then hit Marco Scutaro and Jason Varitek to force in two runs. Josh Reddick came off the bench and lashed a two-run single to right.
On and on it went. Gonzalez came up again and smashed a two-run single, his third hit of the night. Kevin Youkilis roped a two-run double.
"Our bullpen has been the best in baseball, top to bottom," said Padres manager Bud Black. "Tonight showed that these guys aren't invincible. Bad inning. That's the only way you can write it. You're trying to stop the bleeding."
The Red Sox have made a lot of opposing pitching staffs look bad of late. On this homestand, they've had at least 10 hits and 10 runs in three of the four games, batting .352 and scoring 38 runs.
"It's just great at-bats," said Gonzalez. "It's a lineup that consistently has good at-bats, professional at-bats and you wear down a pitcher."
For a while, it looked like the Red Sox would control this one from start to finish. Lanky lefty Andrew Miller was impressive in the first five innings of his Red Sox debut.
But with one ill-placed pitch in the top of the sixth, the 3-0 lead the Red Sox had built for Miller disappeared on a three-run homer off the bat of Orlando Hudson.
"It was probably the worst fastball I threw," said Miller. "It didn't come out as good as some of the other ones had earlier. It wasn't in enough. I think, if I throw a better pitch, the situation doesn't come up. Unfortunately, I left it out there for him and he made me pay."
Miller took a no-decision, while Matt Albers, who recorded four key outs while the game was tied, notched the victory.
All in all, though, it was a positive first step for Miller.
"I thought he was really good, and it was really encouraging," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "It's kind of a shame. He left a fastball to Hudson over the plate. He tried to come in, didn't quite get it there. It was three runs, [and] all of a sudden it's a 3-3 game. Fortunately for our team, we have a huge inning later. But his velocity was good. Changeup was really good. He's always had a feel for a breaking ball. There's a lot to be encouraged about. He just made a bad pitch and paid for it."
Miller seemed to thrive on the opportunity to pitch in front of a packed house.
"It's a lot of fun," Miller said. "Anytime you get to pitch at Fenway is going to be fun -- especially to go out there with a Red Sox uniform, it was a blast. Unfortunately, the last inning kind of brought me down to reality a little bit, but, all in all, it's hard to beat that experience."
The Red Sox had an immediate rally against San Diego starter Wade LeBlanc. Pedroia started it with a one-out double in the bottom of the first. In Gonzalez's first at-bat against his former team, he laced a single to left. Youkilis worked a walk to load the bases. David Ortiz then worked one of the best at-bats of the season, pushing it to a 14th pitch, which he ripped into left for an RBI single that gave the Sox a 1-0 lead.
"You love that," said Francona. "The way it finished is even better, but any time someone sees that many pitches, it almost costs the starting pitcher an inning. It's great."
When Boston made more noise in the third, Ortiz was again the central figure. Youkilis started the two-out rally with a single up the middle. Up stepped Ortiz, who mauled an RBI double into the corner in right, scoring Youkilis all the way from first.