Koji of old shuts down Rangers

With Kimbrel unavailable, righty fans side on 14 pitches

Koji of old shuts down Rangers

ARLINGTON -- Not only is Koji Uehara keeping his role as the Red Sox's eighth-inning setup man, but manager John Farrell won't shy away from using him as the club's closer when Craig Kimbrel needs a night off.

That situation presented itself on Friday night at Globe Life Park, and Uehara looked vintage in striking out Prince Fielder, Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor in succession to end the game and cap an impressive 8-7 comeback win over the Rangers.

Uehara earned his 88th career save, and second this season with an array of nasty splitters. The performance came just two nights after the righty gave up two homers to squander a three-run lead in a painful 8-6 loss to the White Sox.

"He was crisp," said Farrell. "He was downhill with a couple more fastballs, and certainly the split had the typical finish that we've seen from him. There was a little bit of an adjustment with the mechanics, particularly his lower half, staying a little bit taller to get downhill a little bit better, and the finish to the split was outstanding."

Uehara has a 4.61 ERA this season while giving up five home runs. Junichi Tazawa, who typically works the seventh inning when the Red Sox have the lead, has also been less consistent this season. But Farrell said before Friday's game he isn't ready to shift roles for either veteran.

"There are some things individually that have been met with, both mechanical situations as well as pitch sequence type situations," said Farrell. "So that is ongoing and has been done over the past couple of days with what's transpired. But they've been so good for us over a long period of time. We're not going to run from them because there's been some bumps in the road here."

With David Price turning in a disappointing performance, giving up 12 hits and six runs over 2 1/3 innings, Boston's entire bullpen stepped up to make the comeback possible.

Most impressive was the job done by Matt Barnes, who recorded eight outs -- one more than Price -- while walking none and striking out four. Lefty Tommy Layne provided two hitless innings. Heath Hembree worked a perfect eighth and Uehara was lights-out in his 14-pitch ninth.

"And despite the recent struggles, in the ninth inning, we have complete comfort when Koji is on the mound," said Farrell. "He to me seems most at home in that role. We've got another excellent closer, but Koji, when you need him on a day to close, he's been pretty spot-on, and that was the case."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.