ARLINGTON -- With two on and two outs in the top of the ninth and the game tied, Mike Aviles was hoping to do a lot more than hit the ball off the end of his bat.
But the end result was perfect. Scratching and clawing for a big hit that could end their most recent slump, the Red Sox finally got it -- just barely.
Aviles hit a looping liner just over the outstretched glove of Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, lifting Boston to a 2-1 victory.
This, after Aviles worked the count to 3-2 against Rangers closer Joe Nathan.
"When he was with the Twins, I saw him quite a bit over there, pitching against us with the Royals," said Aviles. "I know what he has in his repertoire, but he's still nasty to hit. Sometimes it pays to be a little bit lucky, I guess."
Did Aviles think he had enough of it to get it past the gifted Andrus?
"I was hoping," Aviles said. "I know I hit it off the end of the bat, but I also know I had a good bat in my hand. I was just hoping it got enough to get over. I didn't really want to play extra innings, so as soon as I hit it, I was literally inside of my head just blowing, just hoping that the ball got over his head. Fortunately, it did."
That ended a four-game losing streak at a critical juncture of the season for the 49-49 Red Sox, who are trying to fight their way back into postseason contention.
"I hope every win gets us rolling," Aviles said. "That's the name of the game -- win ballgames. Unfortunately, we hadn't won in a couple days, so any time you can get a win against a team like this, it's always good. Hopefully, we ride that momentum into tomorrow and try to take the series."
Alfredo Aceves came on in the ninth to convert the save, his 21st of the season.
Daniel Nava, who replaced Carl Crawford for defense in the bottom of the seventh, started the winning rally with a two-out walk. Pinch-hitter Jarrod Saltalamacchia also worked Nathan for a walk.
Then it was up to Aviles, and he punched Nathan's 3-2 slider into left.
"Everything was sharp until Nava," said Nathan. "I can't walk him. Saltalamacchia is swinging the bat pretty good, so you don't want to give in there and have him hit one in the gap. I'd rather take my chances with Aviles. Even though you put the winning run in scoring position, it's still right on right. If you make pitches, more times than not you get him out. The walk to Nava was the one that hurt."
Nava, who hasn't played much since Jacoby Ellsbury and Crawford have returned from injuries, was just happy to contribute to an important win.
"It's another win that we need," Nava said. "We'll go out tomorrow and try to get another one. Any time you can stop four losses, it's big."
On a night they desperately needed it, Clay Buchholz turned in a tremendous performance for the Red Sox. He went seven innings, allowing four hits and a run while walking three and striking out one.
"Every starter goes out there to do one thing, and it's to try to pitch as deep in the game as you can to give the team a chance to win," said Buchholz.
But all Buchholz had to show for it was a no-decision.
"The only thing I wish was that we could've given him the win," Aviles said. "The effort he gave us was tremendous. For him to go out there, throw seven innings like he did, and basically make his pitches the entire game, it was incredible."
For the second consecutive night, the Red Sox were largely silent against a Rangers fill-in starter. But Kelly Shoppach did hit an RBI double off the glove of Rangers right fielder David Murphy with two outs in the fourth, giving the Red Sox a 1-0 lead.
Rangers lefty Martin Perez, who was summoned from Triple-A to take the rotation spot of the injured Colby Lewis, held Boston to five hits and one run over six innings.
Buchholz was in top form in this one, holding the Rangers scoreless over the first five innings. Andrus gave Texas a big hit in the sixth, lacing a one-out double to right. Buchholz then uncorked a wild pitch, putting Josh Hamilton in good position for an RBI. Though it wasn't pretty, Hamilton got the job done, hitting a soft grounder just out of the reach of Buchholz. Aviles picked it up, but his only play was to first, and Andrus scored the tying run.
Vicente Padilla came on for Boston in the eighth, and Andrus started a rally with a one-out infield single. With two outs, Padilla and Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez tried to throw off Andrus with a quick pickoff attempt after the pitcher had just retrieved the ball back from his first baseman. But it went awry, as Padilla threw the ball away and Andrus roared to third. There was more drama for Padilla, as he hit Adrian Belte on the batting helmet with an 0-2 pitch.
Beltre was conscious, but had to leave the game. Padilla made the pitch he needed, getting Michael Young on a grounder to short. Padilla wound up earning the win.
"He's a great pitcher," said Gonzalez. "He's been unbelievable for us. That was big for us."