BOSTON -- Dustin Pedroia got the American League Division Series monkey off his back in Monday night's Game 4 clincher against the Angels.
And in a big way.
While Jed Lowrie's game-winning single that gave Boston a 3-2 walk-off victory will dominate the highlight reels, let's not forget it was Pedroia's two-out RBI double off John Lackey in the fifth inning that gave Boston a 2-0 lead on a night in which runs were sparse at Fenway Park.
Hits were sparse for Pedroia in this series. In fact, the double was his only hit, as it snapped an 0-for-15 start to the series and an 0-for-19 postseason funk that dated back to last year's World Series.
"You're going to have battles at the plate and in the field and everything," Pedroia said. "This game is not easy. It's a matter of controlling your emotions and going out there and trying to relax and playing the game."
Pedroia was the first to admit he wasn't playing the game to the best of his ability in the first three games of this series. Pedroia was particularly hard on himself after Boston's Game 3 loss, telling reporters he and his 0-for-5 night should take the blame for that defeat.
One night later, doused in champagne and beer and soaking up an AL Championship Series berth, Pedroia was asked why he made those remarks.
"It's my job to score runs and get on base," he said. "I take that personal. If we're not scoring runs, then it's my own fault. I want to do great, and I want this team to do great."
Greatness finally came for Pedroia when Lackey, who was tough all night, hung a curveball with one on and two out in the fifth. Pedroia launched it off the Green Monster to give the Red Sox what seemed, at that time, a gargantuan lead.
"Tonight, I kind of relaxed and settled in," Pedroia said. "I had three out of four great at-bats. Hitting balls hard is all I can ask for."
Pedroia hit plenty of balls hard over the course of an MVP-caliber 2008 season in which he hit .326 with 54 doubles, 17 homers and 83 RBIs.
Ultimately, though, Pedroia knows those numbers and the 0-for-15 that preceded his big hit all pale in comparison to the importance of the bottom line.
"I don't care what I hit in the postseason," he said, "as long as we win."
The Red Sox won Monday night, advancing to the ALCS against the division-rival Rays. And for the first time in this series, they had Pedroia, in part, to thank.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.