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Padilla continues to be key cog in bullpen

BAL View Full Game Coverage TIMORE -- Two-thirds through May, no one league-wide has been better at cleaning up other pitchers messes than a reliever who came to Spring Training as a starter.

Right-hander Vicente Padilla entered the Red Sox's 8-6 win over the Orioles on Monday with a two-run lead, the tying runs in scoring position and one out.

Padilla got a weak flyout to left from Wilson Betemit before keeping the ball out of play entirely against Nick Johnson, who struck out swinging on Padilla's ninth pitch of the inning.

In 17 appearances, Padilla has inherited 15 runners, and none have scored. No other pitcher has a streak that long this season without having allowed at least one run to score.

"It seems like I'm more concentrated on making pitches more aggressively with the fastball when there are inherited runners," said Padilla, who is 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA in 18 1/3 innings. "Maybe that's the reason why I've had success with guys on base. The game's on the line right there. You can't give up any runs. I must concentrate better.

"When I was a starter and I had guys on base, it seemed like I concentrated a little bit more and did well with guys on base."

Monday marked the third consecutive day of pitching for Padilla, something manager Bobby Valentine wanted to avoid. But when Rich Hill, who had not allowed a hit since May 4, ran into trouble, Valentine felt he couldn't keep Padilla out.

"I had a little reservation," Valentine said. "Rich Hill was going to pitch that eighth inning. Padilla was not going to, but I thought the win was at hand. He had this little thing with inherited runners and I wanted to see if we could keep it going."

Even though pitching three straight days for Padilla is something he hasn't done much of in the last decade -- he was a full-time reliever early in his career -- Padilla said he feels strong. On the season, he's struck out 18 and walked just five. In his last 11 innings and 12 outings since April 25, he's allowed three runs, for a 2.45 ERA.

Boston Red Sox, Vicente Padilla