BOSTON » Dustin Pedroia just wouldn’t give in. Facing the top pitcher in the AL, he kept fouling off pitch after pitch.
In all, Pedroia fouled off nine pitches in a 13-pitch at-bat against previously unbeaten Jered Weaver before lining a go-ahead, two-run single that helped the Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels 9-5 last night.
"I faced him a lot in college and the first few years in the big leagues and it doesn’t get any better than him," Pedroia said. "I haven’t won too many of those, but it was nice to drive in a couple and kind of get things going."
He fouled off four early and, when the count was full, it was five more until he lined his key hit to center.
"He has a way of doing that. He fights. He doesn’t give in," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.
Weaver (6-1), who was scratched Sunday due to a stomach virus, gave up three runs and six hits, struck out six and walked one over six innings. He failed to become the first pitcher since 1891 to go 7-0 by May 2 or sooner. Sadie McMahon of the Baltimore Orioles from the American Association was the last to open 7-0 by the second day of May.
Weaver, who entered the game with an 0.99 ERA, thought he could have retired him a few times.
"That’s what he does," Weaver said. "He wasn’t an MVP a couple of years ago for no reason. I made some good pitches. It was a 3-2 count. Some good sliders and good changeups. He just won the battle this time. Sometimes you lose them."
Two innings later, David Ortiz hit a two-run homer during a six-run burst to break it open.
A soldier dressed in fatigues, seated next to the Red Sox dugout, held up a flag and led fans in a chant of "U-S-A" early in the game. Ortiz hugged him on the way back after his shot into the Monster seats.
Ortiz said the soldier gave him a patch from the uniform of a buddy that "went down" after the slugger walked back earlier in the game.
"Maybe it was good luck," he said, smiling.
With the Red Sox trailing 2-1 in the fifth, Carl Crawford doubled and Jason Varitek walked before Jacoby Ellsbury bounced into a fielder’s choice, erasing Varitek at second. During Pedroia’s lengthy at-bat, Ellsbury stole second before the 2008 MVP won his battle with the two-run single to make it 3-2.
"Phenomenal at-bat," Varitek said. "He didn’t have the greatest first two at-bats. He just hung in there, hung in there, hung in there."
Adrian Gonzalez had a three-run double and Clay Buchholz (2-3) pitched 6 2⁄3 solid innings for the win.
Boston won its second straight after dropping four of five and improved to 5-0 against the Angels this year.