Ziegler strikes, ends threat vs. former team

Reliever fans 3 straight to get out of bases-loaded, no-out jam

Ziegler strikes, ends threat vs. former team

BOSTON -- Stay calm. Stay relaxed. That's what Brad Ziegler kept trying to tell himself as he came into a pressurized situation against the team that traded him to the Red Sox a month ago.

The bases were full of D-backs with nobody out in the eighth as Ziegler came running in from the bullpen to try to rescue Matt Barnes, who had walked three straight batters.

Ten pitches later -- and 10 strikes later -- Ziegler had given the Red Sox a huge lift in a 6-3 win.

Ziegler struck out Rickie Weeks Jr. on on a sinker and two curves. Yasmany Tomas went down on three sinkers and a curve. Only Chris Owings could salvage the inning for Arizona. Instead, Ziegler made him look feeble on a curve, a sinker and another curve to end the inning.

The Fenway crowd roared with appreciation for a job well done. And Barnes felt like hugging his teammate.

"Yeah, he gave me a big hug in the dugout, and then he gave me another one up here [in the clubhouse]," Ziegler said. "You could tell he was pretty tired when he went back out there, and he was fighting, grinding. A lot of guys in the bullpen are fatigued. You know, it's August, so there isn't a guy on this team that doesn't have some little issue here and there. He was great the inning before.

"That's what we try to do every night, is pick each other up when we need it. There'll be another time at some point this year when he's going to pick me up, and I'll be right there to greet him, too."

It was the first time Ziegler struck out the side since April 10, 2010, when he was pitching for the A's against the Angels.

"Tonight I wasn't going for strikeouts," Ziegler said. "Maybe a little bit on the first guy, because then, at any point after that, I'm a ground ball from getting out of the inning. But just try to stay under control and know that this is a scenario, I can get out of this, I know I can, I'm going to use my defense behind me. Fortunately tonight, I just got some swing and misses."

The performance came two days after Ziegler's forgettable performance against the Yankees, when he gave up four hits and three runs in one inning.

"It sticks with you until your next outing, and sometimes that's three or four days," Ziegler said. "The good ones, they're basically gone the next day when you show up to the park. I'll enjoy tonight, have some, you know, fun text messages to answer with my family. But come to the park tomorrow, I might be in the exact scenario tomorrow, and what I did tonight means nothing."

But for the Red Sox on Saturday night, it meant everything.

"Ten pitches, 10 strikes, a number of swings and misses," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "He struck out the side in a crucial moment. A big lift in that particular inning."

As much as the D-backs enjoyed Ziegler doing his thing from 2011 until last month, it didn't help them figure out how to hit him. There aren't many submariners out there.

"We've seen him do it here," D-backs manager Chip Hale said. "So you tip your cap to him, and you hope our hitters will learn something for tomorrow in how to approach him."

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.