BOSTON — Dustin Pedroia just wouldn’t give in. Facing the top pitcher in the AL, he kept fouling off pitch after pitch.
In all, Pedroia fouled off nine pitches in a 13-pitch at-bat against previously unbeaten Jered Weaver before lining a go-ahead, two-run single that helped the Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels 9-5 on Monday night.
“I faced him a lot in college and the first few years in the big leagues and it doesn’t get any better than him,” Pedroia said. “I haven’t won too many of those, but it was nice to drive in a couple and kind of get things going.”
He fouled off four early and, when the count was full, it was five more until he lined his key hit to center.
“He has a way of doing that. He fights. He doesn’t give in,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.
Weaver (6-1), who was scratched Sunday due to a stomach virus, gave up three runs, six hits, struck out six and walked one over six innings. He failed to become the first pitcher since 1891 to go 7-0 by May 2 or sooner. Sadie McMahon of the Baltimore Orioles from the American Association was the last to open 7-0 by the second day of May.
Weaver, who entered the game with an 0.99 ERA, thought he could have retired him a few times.
“That’s what he does,” Weaver said. “He wasn’t an MVP a couple of years ago for no reason. I made some good pitches. It was a 3-2 count. Some good sliders and good changeups. He just won the battle this time. Sometimes you lose them.”
Two innings later, David Ortiz hit a two-run homer during a six-run burst to break it open.
A soldier dressed in fatigues, seated next to the Red Sox dugout, held up a flag and led fans in a chant of ‘U-S-A’ early in the game. Ortiz hugged him on the way back after his shot into the Monster seats.
Ortiz said the soldier gave him a patch from the uniform of a buddy that “went down” after the slugger walked back earlier in the game.
“Maybe it was good luck,” he said, smiling.
With the Red Sox trailing 2-1 in the fifth, Carl Crawford doubled and Jason Varitek walked before Jacoby Ellsbury bounced into a fielder’s choice, erasing Varitek at second. During Pedroia’s lenghty at-bat, Ellsbury stole second before the 2008 MVP won his battle with the two-run single to make it 3-2.
“Phenomenal at-bat,” Varitek said. “He didn’t have the greatest first two at-bats. He just hung in there, hung in there, hung in there.”
Adrian Gonzalez had a three-run double and Clay Buchholz (2-3) pitched 6 2-3 solid innings for the win.
It was Boston’s second straight win after dropping four of five, and raised its record to 5-0 against the Angels this season. The Red Sox, who swept four games in Anaheim from April 21-24, have beaten Los Angeles 14 of the past 15 games.
Vernon Wells hit a two-run homer for the Angels, who had won four of six since being swept by Boston.
Buchholz, coming off a career-high 12 hits in a 4-1 loss at Baltimore in his last outing, held the Angels to two runs on eight hits, walking two and fanning two.
“That was awesome,” Buchholz said of Pedroia’s key hit. “That was the turn of the game for sure. It just shows you what kind of player he is. He’s up there, he didn’t give in, fouled off some really good pitches from probably one of the best pitchers in the game right now.”
Gonzalez’s double, Kevin Youkilis’ RBI double as well as Ortiz’s homer made it 9-2.
Boston grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first on Youkilis’ RBI single.
The Angles tied it on Bobby Abreu’s RBI single after Maicer Izturis doubled with two outs, reaching second on a close play. Replays showed he was tagged just before he slid into the bag. In the first inning, he singled and was out trying to stretch it when he overslid the bag.
Los Angeles made it 2-1 in the fifth on Abreu’s run-scoring fielder’s choice.
There was a large flag draped over the 37-foor Green Monster for the national anthem, something usually reserved for Holidays and Opening Day. Members of the military lined up along the edge of the grass at the warning track in left and helped carry the flag off the field. Both teams lined up along their respective foul lines in front of their dugouts during a moment of silence and the anthem.
The moment of silence was held for victims of 9-11 and those that lost their lives since fighting for the country. The PA announcer also asked fans to thank those that have risked their lives.’
NOTES: Ellsbury left the game with a bruised left knee. … Francona said RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka, who left Friday’s start with tightness in his elbow, was pushed back two days to Friday. The reshuffled rotation has Jon Lester on Tuesday, Josh Beckett Wednesday and John Lackey on Thursday.