Nobody could prevent it from finally happening this time -- not even imposing Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton, who has filthy stuff and had made Pedroia look overmatched earlier in the at-bat.
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
But on a 1-2 pitch with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Pedroia hit Broxton's 98-mph heat on the sweet spot of his bat and lined a single to right. Daniel Nava came racing home from second, diving head-first, and the Red Sox had themselves a thrilling 5-4 victory over the Dodgers.
"It was survival," said Pedroia. "He threw me some pretty tough pitches. It's not fun. I've never faced a guy like that before and he's throwing 100 with that second pitch. Honestly, when I got two strikes, I was just trying to put the ball in play and I got it on the barrel."
For Pedroia, it was the continuation of a sizzling homestand in which he is 15-for-31 over eight games.
"I know how good Broxton is but any time Pedey has something to do with the outcome of a game, we feel good," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "You know he's going to give you everything he has, and he kind of wills himself to do something good. The two breaking balls Broxton threw were filthy."
Pedroia, one of the smallest players in the game, couldn't help but notice how big Broxton -- who is listed at 6-foot-4 and 295 pounds -- looked.
"You have to have confidence that you're going to get a hit and we're going to win." Pedroia said. "It definitely was a tough at-bat. Facing a guy like that, you look at him on the mound, and it looked like he was nine feet tall. That first pitch, I was like, 'Jeez, I better wake up.' He's throwing the ball hard."
The Red Sox, who are one game back in the American League East, are finding a different way to win every day. They've reeled off a 7-1 mark entering Sunday night's finale of this homestand. Since April 20, Boston owns the best record in the Majors at 38-19.
"We're playing good," said Pedroia. "We're just trying to find a way to win, that's all."
The winning rally was started by Bill Hall, who made amends for his two errors in right field by lacing a single to open the ninth. Nava tried to sacrifice him to second, but his bunt was too close to catcher Russell Martin, and Hall was thrown out. Marco Scutaro drew a two-out walk, and that was when Dodgers manager Joe Torre called on Broxton.
"With a man in scoring position is the only time I'd bring him in like that [without a lead on the road]," said Torre.
When Pedroia's hit found some outfield grass, Nava, who had been stewing about messing up the bunt, smelled paydirt.
"I was frustrated because it was a simple job, really," said Nava. "Bunting is easy. I was trying to let it go as best I could. Once I got to second, I kind of used it as a little motivation to get going around the bases. Fortunately, I was going on the swing so that gave me that extra step, or half step. If it was early in the count, it's a little different."
Pedroia's late-game heroics washed away the sting of the Red Sox being unable to hold a 4-2 lead after six.
Tim Wakefield turned in a solid start, giving up five hits and four runs (three earned) over 6 1/3 innings. He was able to keep his team in the game despite four errors by his defense.
"I kept us in the game, and I'm very satisfied with how I've been throwing the last few starts," said Wakefield.
These days, each Wakefield start seems to bring another milestone. This was his 200th career start at Fenway Park, tying Roger Clemens for first all-time.
"I didn't know that," said Wakefield. "It's special -- just like the innings thing. It's a testament to longevity and I'm really excited that I've been able to wear this uniform as long as I have, [and] to be mentioned in the same sentence as Roger or Luis Tiant or Cy Young and some other great pitchers that have been here."
Victor Martinez and Kevin Youkilis aided Boston's cause with home runs against Dodgers starter Vicente Padilla.
Manny Ramirez singled, homered and stole a base in his second game back at Fenway since being traded by the Red Sox in 2008.
Martinez's homer was a two-run missile in the bottom of the fifth that snapped a 1-1 tie. It came on a 3-0 fastball.
"That's a beautiful swing. That's what you do with a 3-0 pitch," Francona said.
The blast by Youkilis gave Boston a two-run lead entering the seventh. But the Dodgers rallied. Garret Anderson started it with a ground-rule double. With one out, Blake DeWitt struck for an RBI double and moved to third as Hall made his second error of the game in right field.
Wakefield exited the game to a standing ovation, and Hall's error proved costly, as Matt Kemp hit a sacrifice fly to right to tie the game.
But these days, the Red Sox are accustomed to responding to each little bump.
"All of a sudden, we're looking at a tie game," Francona said. "But we're tied and we're at home -- we're not losing."
Pedroia made sure they wouldn't lose.
"I check-swung twice," Pedroia said. "It really wasn't going in my direction the first few pitches. I just stepped out and took a deep breath. The slider, the one I check-swung at, I didn't really see it that good. I just wanted to concentrate on seeing it and putting it in play and hopefully something good would happen."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less