Break point: Sox use homers to reach .500

Break point: Sox use homers to reach .500

Break point: Sox use homers to reach .500
BALTIMORE -- The road trip where the Red Sox patched things together and simply found a way was capped off in the most fitting fashion imaginable on Wednesday afternoon at Camden Yards.

In a 6-5 victory over the American League East-leading Orioles, the Red Sox got three home runs.

None of them came from Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis or some of the other usual suspects.

Instead, the long balls were delivered by Daniel Nava, Scott Podsednik and Kelly Shoppach, the 7-8-9 hitters in Boston's lineup.

That's the way things are going right now, and manager Bobby Valentine will take it.

It was the first time since Aug. 3, 2003, that the Red Sox got homers from the last three hitters in the lineup (Trot Nixon, Bill Mueller and Doug Mirabelli) in one game.

For the Red Sox, it was a sweet way to finish off a grueling stretch of 20 games in 20 days.

"Well, that top part of the lineup has been doing so much work in 20 days," said Valentine. "They really were a little under the water, I think, and the bottom third, [hitting coach] Dave Magadan, whose done such a fabulous job, just said, 'Hey, let's leave it to those guys. They're going to do something.' They did a lot."

It wasn't just that those three hitters were batting in the last three spots in the order and went deep. Everyone from the trio had a unique storyline.

"There's not pressure for us to have to step in and be the guy, because of our lineup, because of what they can do," said Nava, who wasn't invited to Spring Training and is now hitting .350. "And that allows you to play your game and not try and do too much. I think most guys will tell you when you're able to simplify it, you give yourself a better chance to succeed."

Podsednik last played in the Major Leagues in 2010 before being summoned from Triple-A on Tuesday.

"It felt real good," Podsednik said. "It's good to be back in the big leagues. I got a pitch up, an offspeed pitch up, and I put a pretty good swing on it."

Then there is Shoppach, the backup catcher who has been used less frequently of late given the emergence of Jarrod Saltalamacchia. When Shoppach wasn't in the lineup Tuesday against lefty Brian Matsusz, he walked into Valentine's office and wondered why. He didn't leave that conversation any more satisfied than when he started it.

But Shoppach let his bat talk for him on Wednesday, belting his second homer on the season.

"Let it be known he came in yesterday wondering why he wasn't playing," Valentine said. "[He] left angry. I won't complain when he's angry, I guess. I wanted to plan to give Salty two days in a row [including Thursday's off-day]. I didn't think an off-day yesterday and a morning game today was really what he needed.

"Shop playing against a right-hander proved that he could do it. He threw out a guy at second, worked with Daniel [Bard]. He milked Daniel through those innings. There wasn't an at-bat that was really an easy one. They did a really good job."

In completing this three-city road trip with a 5-3 mark, Boston has won 10 of its last 13 games to pull back even at 22-22.

"Well, like I said before the game -- and I told the guys if they were listening after the game -- just an amazing effort by a group of fabulous professionals who played through a lot of adversity, played through time zones, played through weather," said Valentine. "They did one heck of a job winning these last two series. Going home at .500 is, I think, a feather in their cap. They played great."

Following Thursday's off-day, their first since May 3, the Red Sox will try to get over .500 for the first time this season when they open a three-game Fenway series against the Rays.

Bard (4-5, 4.89 ERA) didn't have his best stuff, but he did enough to get the win, giving up five hits and two runs over 5 1/3 innings, walking four and striking out two.

"My head's in a good place," Bard said. "I'm feeling confident out there, but I'm having trouble repeating the delivery at the same time. It's a little bit of the opposite of what I had the few outings before this, where the delivery was locked in, but I wasn't trusting the ball to the middle of the plate, and that's where the walks came from. I feel like I'm in a good place. It's just a matter of finding that delivery I can repeat consistently."

Bard was lifted after striking out Adam Jones for the first out of the sixth. The righty threw 90 pitches, 49 of which were strikes.

"He showed that he had a sense of humor," said Valentine. "As he struck out Jones and I came to get him, he said, 'What's wrong? Don't you like my high slider?' But he gets a win, and maybe that's what he needed to move forward."

When Bard left, the Red Sox had a 5-2 lead. Andrew Miller gave up a two-run homer to Nick Johnson in the seventh, and it was a one-run game.

But in the eighth, Podsednik ripped his homer to right for some insurance.

And in the bottom of the eighth, Che-Hsuan Lin made a game-saving diving catch in right-center against Wilson Betemit. Valentine had just put Lin in for defensive purposes, moving Adrian Gonzalez back to first base.

"Well, when you're moving people around and you try to figure out the right time to do it," Valentine said. "I figured with the lead [that was the time], and my coaches were right there with me. He did save the game. That was a fabulous play. He came out of nowhere. He just closed the gap. I didn't think he had any chance. The ball was slicing away from him. You know, he saved the game."

Ian Browne is a reporter for Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.