TORONTO -- They were trying to stave off ignominious history, trying to erase doubts, simply trying to get back on their feet again. It wasn't easy, but the Red Sox pulled out a much-needed 4-2 victory over the Blue Jays on Monday night at Rogers Centre.
It was the first win of the season for the Red Sox, as they avoided what would have been consecutive 0-4 starts for the first time in club history.
Thanks to a comeback in the top of the ninth, Bobby Valentine garnered his first win as Boston's manager. It was also the first win for new general manager Ben Cherington.
Perhaps it should come as no surprise who the catalyst was.
"I don't have enough words to talk about [Dustin] Pedroia, because I came here at 12 o'clock and figured nobody would be here, he was already here pacing and he said we had to get the monkey off our back and let's go," said Valentine.
Pedroia had already breathed some life into the Sox in the top of the sixth, when he launched a solo shot to left to bring his team within a run at 2-1.
Down by a run to start the top of the ninth, Pedroia started the comeback against the Blue Jays with a leadoff double off closer Sergio Santos.
"He gets a high slider and puts it in the seats," said Valentine. "He gets a high fastball and starts a winning rally off of the double. He's a great player."
Pedroia moved to third on a passed ball by J.P. Arencibia and scored the tying run on a sacrifice fly by Adrian Gonzalez.
"I don't know, hopefully it sparked us," said Pedroia. "I'm just trying to put good at-bats together. This early in the season, everyone's got nerves going and everything. It's hard to settle down and find your rhythm and everything. I was just trying to have good at-bats. They have some good pitching over there."
With two outs, the Red Sox got another big hit, this one a single through the hole on the right side by Ryan Sweeney, who had also delivered his team a game-tying RBI triple on the ninth inning on Opening Day. Pinch-runner Darnell McDonald raced around from second to score the go-ahead run, as the throw from Jose Bautista to the plate glanced off Arencibia's glove. Boston padded the lead on a wild pitch by Santos.
"I knew there was a big enough hole on that side it was going to go through," Sweeney said. "Then I saw Bautista was playing kind of shallow, too, so I was hoping Darnell could score from second."
The blown save by Santos spoiled the mood of Blue Jays fans on the night of their home opener.
"It wasn't just one bad pitch, it was a lot of bad pitches," Santos said.
And this time, the Sox hung on in the bottom of the ninth, erasing -- at least for one day -- some of the concerns about their bullpen.
Scott Atchison gave Boston three glittering innings (one hit, no walks, three strikeouts) to earn the win in relief of starter Felix Doubront.
"I think what works best for me is just to try to attack the strike zone," Atchison said. "I tried to do that tonight and was successful with it. From there, you can kind of expand on them and get ahead."
Alfredo Aceves, who didn't record an out in his first two games as closer, fired a 1-2-3 ninth for his first save.
"We needed this game," Aceves said. "I felt like it's our responsibility to go out there and do the very best we can do. The results, we don't know. But I felt good."
While it wasn't the most economical of starts for Doubront, who threw 101 pitches over his five innings, it was a pretty effective one.
Doubront scattered four hits and yielded two runs, walking three and notching a career-high six strikeouts.
"Felix was awesome," said Pedroia. "He came out and attacked the zone. I thought he was great."
For the fourth time in as many games, the Red Sox did not take the lead first. The Blue Jays rallied against Doubront in the third. Colby Rasmus started it with a one-out triple. After a walk to Yunel Escobar, Kelly Johnson tapped one to the mound, and Doubront tried to make a play at the plate. Jarrod Saltalamacchia applied the tag, but Rasmus just made it in safely. With two outs, Edwin Encarnacion lined an RBI single to left, and the Red Sox were down, 2-0.
However, once the late innings rolled around, it became Pedroia's time.
And just because the Red Sox are finally in the win column doesn't mean the second baseman is going to take a late bus to the park on Tuesday.
"I just come to the field on the road. My family is at home," Pedroia said.
"Just call him Sparky," Gonzalez said as he walked past Pedroia in mid-interview.
While the moniker likely won't stick, the fact that Pedroia had come through yet again for his team was not lost on anyone.