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Pedroia puts Red Sox up with two-run single

CHICAGO -- The Red Sox completed the month by making it the best July in team history, running off a 20-6 mark. They did so by winning a franchise-record seventh consecutive series on the road. But after Sunday's 5-3 victory over the White Sox, there was a lack of giddiness by Boston over the recent accomplishments.

This is a team that expects to be good. And aside from a 2-10 start to the season, they've been just that.

"We've been playing good ball," said Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "We just have to keep it rolling. We don't have that big of a lead in the division, so we've got to play good baseball."

The Red Sox lead the Yankees by two games in the American League East. They have that slight margin thanks to players like Pedroia, who had a 25-game hitting streak snapped Friday, but continues to get big hits.

The latest came on Sunday afternoon, when Pedroia lined a two-run single up the middle in the top of the seventh against White Sox reliever Jesse Crain to overturn a one-run deficit and lead the Red Sox to a 5-3 victory.

"I'm excited to hit with guys on base," said Pedroia. "I'm just trying to drive the ball to the outfield and get one run in. It was lucky for us that we got two."

Lefty Andrew Miller gave up 10 hits and three runs over 5 2/3 innings, walking one and striking out a season-high eight. With the Red Sox acquiring southpaw Erik Bedard during Sunday's game, Miller's rotation spot could eventually be in jeopardy, though he is expected to make his next start.

"I'm concerned with how I pitch," said Miller, who has a 5.36 ERA. "I think that's out of my control. I can't worry about that. It is what it is."

Alfredo Aceves earned the win for Boston, turning in a scoreless inning. If the Sox hadn't been able to acquire Bedard, Aceves might have moved to the rotation. Now, he can stay right where he helps Boston the most.

"We toyed with the fact of maybe putting him in the rotation if need be, but I think we really view him as such a huge help in that bullpen, we'd rather not," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

Daniel Bard kept his sizzling stretch of pitching going by recording four outs. The righty has gone a career-high 26 1/3 innings without allowing a run.

Jonathan Papelbon came on in the ninth for the save, his 24th.

The go-ahead rally in the seventh was started on one-out singles by Marco Scutaro and Jacoby Ellsbury.

And once Pedroia was in position to come through in the clutch, he did so yet again.

"Pedey, as normal, comes up with a huge, clutch hit, and we hung on with some good pitching," Francona said.

The Red Sox, facing lefty Mark Buehrle, broke out first. In the top of the second, Darnell McDonald worked an eight-pitch walk. Jason Varitek followed by belting a two-run homer to left-center, No. 7 on the season and his second right-handed.

Miller ran into trouble in the bottom of the second. Tyler Flowers reached on a one-out single and Brent Morel drilled an RBI double to center, on which Ellsbury mistimed his leap.

Alex Rios tied it up in the bottom of the third, lining an RBI single to right. And after giving up back-to-back singles to open the fourth, Miller allowed an RBI single up the middle to Alexei Ramirez, and the White Sox had their first lead of the day at 3-2.

From there, Chicago's offense went silent.

"When you don't score runs in the American League, it's going to be hard to win games," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. "The pitchers can take you so far. Every game is game is a battle. Every game, know that one mistake can cost you the game, they can take the lead."

Adrian Gonzalez upped his Major League-leading RBI total to 90 with a one-out double in the ninth. It marked Gonzalez's seventh consecutive multihit game. The star first baseman is hitting .357.

"He's a good hitter. He's just a good hitter," Francona said. "It's nice to see that neck loosen up a little bit, because he's starting to pull the ball and hit the ball to left field."

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