Pedroia's 100th homer, a grand slam, sinks A's
Second baseman's first long ball of season backs strong Buchholz
BOSTON -- The elusive big hit finally appeared for the Red Sox on Friday night at Fenway Park, and it was a game-breaking grand slam from Dustin Pedroia.
With one swing of the bat, Pedroia belted career homer No. 100, his first long ball of 2014 and the second grand slam of his career.
The blast led the Red Sox to a 7-1 victory over the Athletics in the opener of a three-game series at Fenway Park.
As impactful a hit as it was, Pedroia was thinking small as he stepped to the plate.
"Honestly, [I was] just trying to drive one run in," Pedroia said. "You know, as a team we've been scuffling a little bit with guys on, so I kept my weight back, which is nice. I haven't been doing that lately. I kind of hit it off the end, but I back-spun it and was just able to get it over the Monster."
For weeks, Boston had been plagued by its inability to cash in on opportunities. Pedroia came through in dramatic fashion on this occasion, pushing a one-run lead to five with one swing.
"Pedey gets his 100th home run in kind of grand fashion," said manager John Farrell. "And yeah, I think just a little bit of relief given that we were able to get a couple of runs driven in in a bases-loaded situation."
Pedroia also joined Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski in an exclusive Red Sox club, becoming the second player in club history to compile 100 homers and 100 stolen bases.
"They told me that after the game," said Pedroia. "That's crazy. I guess I'm getting old. Having your name said anywhere with his is an accomplishment."
The Athletics showed brief hope of getting back in the game in the eighth, putting two on with one out against Edward Mujica.
But Jackie Bradley Jr. thwarted the rally with a tremendous catch against the wall in center to rob Yoenis Cespedes of extra bases. The play turned into even more than that when Josh Donaldson got too far off first and was doubled off to end the inning.
"I knew right away that I was going to have a play," Bradley said. "Right off the bat, I kind of felt like I knew where it was going to go. I started running back and I looked back to check where it was again. From there on, I only had a few more steps left to gauge it. I didn't even think anything about the double play.
"Actually, I caught it, looked up and saw the middle infielders just going frantically, waving their hands, so I just tried to make a strong throw to one of them and let them deal with the rest."
Clay Buchholz produced a strong performance for the Red Sox, giving up three hits and a run over 6 1/3 innings. The righty walked three and struck out five in his best all-around start of the season.
"I felt good," said Buchholz. "It's been a process between last start to this start, and as far as arm strength and everything, it seems to be coming along pretty well. That was the last phase I was getting through -- getting my arm strength fully back and trusting the pitches that I throw."
Finally playing in some nice weather, the Red Sox put together an early rally in the second. Grady Sizemore started it by lofting a double off the Green Monster. A.J. Pierzynski continued his recent surge with an RBI single for the game's first run.
And with two outs, Bradley unloaded for a double to the gap in left-center, and Pierzynski came roaring all the way around from first.
"I don't know how often we're going to see A.J. score from first, but thankfully he did tonight," said Farrell.
The Athletics rallied in the third. John Jaso led off with a triple to center that Bradley couldn't get as he crashed into the wall. Jaso wound up scoring on a wild pitch, and it was a 2-1 game.
It stayed that way until the sixth. Xander Bogaerts started Boston's rally with a single up the middle against reliever Dan Otero. Pierzynski followed with a single to left. Bradley drew a walk to load the bases.
Pedroia did the rest, walloping his first slam since Aug. 27, 2008, against A's righty Ryan Cook.
"I just hung it," Cook said. "It was the right pitch, I felt like. I think if I execute it, he swings over the top of it or maybe I even get a ground ball, a double play. That was really the thought process behind it. I didn't execute it, and he did what he's supposed to do."
And the Red Sox had a moment to remember.
"That's a moment I'll always remember -- being on base as he hit his 100th, and it also being his 500th RBI," said Bradley. "That was special. After a tough day yesterday, to come back out the way we did today, play the ball we were capable of, it feels good."
If Pedroia, who dealt with a thumb injury all last season and had a wrist ailment earlier this year, can get his power back, it could mean big things for the Red Sox. It was the first homer for Pedroia in 159 at-bats, dating back to last season.
"I'm feeling good," said Pedroia. "I'm still trying to make adjustments every day, trying to get better. I was pretty excited to hit a home run. It's been a while; I had to make a lot of adjustments last year with my thumb deal. I'm still trying to get back to swinging hard like I normally do."