ARLINGTON, Texas — With his team riding a four-game losing streak, Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine was looking for more than just timely hits from his team. He also wanted to see his players draw walks.
The Red Sox did both at just the right time on Tuesday night, beating the Texas Rangers 2-1 to end their skid.
Daniel Nava and pinch hitter Jarrod Saltalamacchia drew consecutive two-out walks in the ninth inning from Rangers closer Joe Nathan, then Mike Aviles blooped a tiebreaking single.
“We got some long-awaited walks,” Valentine said. “They were two great at-bats by Nava and Salty. Then Mike has been hitting in bad luck, but he got a hit on 3-and-2 off the end of his bat. A couple of walks and a bloop, and we win.”
Nathan (1-3) had issued only five walks in 38 1-3 innings pitched this season before facing Nava and Saltalamacchia. Those consecutive walks also snapped a career-long stretch of 80 straight appearances with one or fewer walks.
With Nava and Saltalamacchia on, Aviles singled just beyond the reach of shortstop Elvis Andrus. It was Aviles’ first career go-ahead hit in the ninth inning or later.
“(Nathan) put it in the strike zone and got two quick outs, then all of a sudden he couldn’t find the strike zone,”Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “Give Aviles credit, he got a good pitch, poked it over the infield and we just couldn’t get to it.”
The Rangers had a prime scoring opportunity in the eighth inning but Red Sox reliever Vicente Padilla (4-0) escaped a first-and-third jam.
Andrus beat out a single and made it to third on an unusual two-base throwing error by Padilla.
Padilla threw to first in an attempt to pick off Andrus, got the return throw from first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, then almost immediately threw back to Gonzalez, who wasn’t expecting it and the ball rolled to the wall.
With two outs, Padilla hit Adrian Beltre, knocking his helmet off and sending him to the ground. Rangers officials said after the game that Beltre did not sustain a concussion but had a head contusion. After Beltre left the game, Michael Young grounded out to end the inning.
“It was a nail-biter game — any one mistake can hurt you,” Young said.
Cody Ross scored for Boston in the fourth when he walked and Kelly Shoppach doubled on a drive that right fielder David Murphy misplayed at the warning track.
The Rangers had a player hit a double for the third consecutive inning in the sixth when Andrus doubled with one out. Andrus went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a slow groundout by Josh Hamilton.
Boston starter Clay Buchholz gave up only four hits in seven innings. Alfredo Aceves notched his 21st save of the season.
“Four losses (in a row) was big,” Nava said. “This was another win that we need.”
Martin Perez, called up from Triple-A Round Rock on Monday after starter Colby Lewis was put on the disabled list for season-ending surgery, pitched six innings, giving up five hits.
NOTES: Rangers pitcher Neftali Feliz, put on the 60-day DL on May 21 because of inflammation in his right elbow, started Tuesday for Round Rock against Albuquerque. Feliz threw three innings, giving up one hit and no runs while walking one and striking out three. He is expected to make one more start for Round Rock before returning to the Rangers. … Boston LF Carl Crawford was moved down to seventh in the batting order for the game, a move manager Bobby Valentine made since Crawford had only had 14 at-bats against left-handers this season. Crawford, who spent the first 3 1/2 months of the season on the DL following surgery on his left wrist, batted second his first seven games. Crawford went 0 for 3 with a strikeout and was replaced by Nava in the bottom of the seventh.