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Sox playoff hero Roberts returns for Game 2

Key contributor to 2004 ALCS comeback throws out first pitch

BOSTON -- The return of former Red Sox outfielder Dave Roberts provided an emotional lift to the capacity crowd at Fenway Park prior to Game 2 of the American League Championship Series on Sunday.

Roberts received a standing ovation when he walked onto the field to throw out the ceremonial first pitch to catcher David Ross. It was a fitting tribute to a player who played a big role in one of the biggest comeback stories in postseason history.

The former Major Leaguer is best remembered for his role in the 2004 ALCS. Boston was on the brink of elimination after trailing, 4-3, in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Yankees and facing a 3-0 deficit in the best-of-seven series.

Roberts helped change the outlook of the series when he was brought in to pinch-run for Kevin Millar. Roberts promptly stole second base off Yankees closer Mariano Rivera and then came around to score on an RBI single by Bill Mueller.

Boston went on to win the game in 12 innings and stave off elimination. That was the first step in the remarkable comeback that saw the club win the next three games in their eventual run to a World Series championship.

Roberts retired from baseball following the 2008 season. He was a career .266 hitter with 243 stolen bases and 437 runs scored. The native of California is now a first-base coach with the San Diego Padres.

The pregame ceremony also included a rendition of the national anthem performed by the St. Ann's children's choir from Dorchester, Mass.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB.
Read More: Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers