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Slacker Red Sox snap out of their slumber

Dustin Pedroia gets a pat on the head from Kevin Youkilis after Pedroia hit a solo homer in the third inning of Game 2.

BRIAN CASSELLA | Times

Dustin Pedroia gets a pat on the head from Kevin Youkilis after Pedroia hit a solo homer in the third inning of Game 2.

ST. PETERSBURG — Dustin Pedroia seemed unfazed by producing just one hit in 17 at-bats in the American League Division Series against Anaheim. Kevin Youkilis was equally secure despite hitting .222. David Ortiz was a little more frustrated about getting nothing meaty to hit with Pedroia struggling in front of him but he'd learned those spells don't usually last too long.

Wise, wise men. Pedroia hit two home runs, and Youkilis and Jason Bay one each through eight innings Saturday in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series at Tropicana Field.

Rays starter Scott Kazmir had seemingly settled in what was an adventurous outing entering the fifth and a two-run lead had provided some cushion. But Pedroia, who hit 17 homers during the regular season, poked his second of the game to left, and with one out Youkilis stroked another to tie it. Bay, who had homered off the C ring in the Red Sox's final regular-season trip to Tropicana Field, then hammered a chest-high fastball from reliever Grant Balfour inside the leftfield foul pole.

Pedroia started the game 3-for-4 with two homers, a walk, four runs and two RBIs.

The Boston hitting lapse began to resolve itself in a 2-0 Game 1 victory Friday. Youkilis, the all-time ALCS leader in batting average (.541), on-base percentage and slugging percentage, started the game 3-for-4 in snapping an 0-for-17 streak against James Shields, and he was 3-for-5 Saturday. Though he hit into a double play in the eighth inning, Pedroia eventually scored on a Dan Wheeler wild pitch to tie the game 8-8.

"Last year I was the same way," Youkilis said. "I didn't have that unbelievable of a first round. I felt like I hit the ball all right in Anaheim, ball hit deep to right centerfield in Anaheim that I thought could have had a chance to get out, and maybe back home if the ball carried, and lined out. I didn't feel like I was doing that bad, but I felt like I could do a lot better."

Youkilis batted .312 with 29 homers and 115 RBIs in the regular season.

"He's hitting right smack in the middle in the cleanup spot, and Shields had been so tough on him coming into the game. He took some really good swings (Friday)," manager Terry Francona said. "Any time you're sandwiched in the middle of the order or hitting right behind David, it's an important spot in the order."

The bonus for the Red Sox is Jed Lowrie and Bay have also been torrid offensively. The duo combined to produce the winning RBI and run in the Game 4 bottom-of-the-ninth ALDS clincher against Anaheim and in the fifth inning on Friday against Shields.

Bay, acquired in a trade deadline deal for Manny Ramirez, went 3-for-4 with four RBIs through eight innings, increasing his playoff total to nine.

"It's been everybody kind of leaning on each other rather than just relying on one or two horses," Bay said.

Slacker Red Sox snap out of their slumber 10/11/08 [Last modified: Sunday, October 12, 2008 12:51am]
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