for this game

Pedroia, Youkilis help Red Sox clinch playoff berth

Sep 24, 2008 - 4:36 AM By Tony Lee PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

BOSTON (Ticker) -- Through injuries, adversity and the headline-grabbing exodus of a superstar slugger, the Boston Red Sox never took their eyes off the prize. Here they are with another chance to grab it.

Behind two RBI apiece from Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia and a bend-but-don't-break bullpen, the Red Sox clinched their fifth playoff berth in six years with a 5-4 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday at Fenway Park.

"We've had to handle, this year, a lot of frustration and that's always a key point in having a successful ballclub," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "Especially the last six, seven weeks we've really done that well."

The Red Sox (92-65) still trail Tampa Bay (95-62) in the American League East Division by three games but have assured themselves a chance to claim a third World Series crown in five years.

Management said it's never something they take for granted.

"We wanted to build a franchise that could be counted on to be in just about every October," general manager Theo Epstein said. "That's not easy. We wanted to be like the Braves or like the Yankees, to the point where when you think of October baseball you think of the Red Sox. That's five out of six years, we're starting to get there and feel pretty good about it."

Boston's clinch will keep the rival Yankees from the postseason for the first time since 1993. Like Epstein said, though, it was not easy.

The Red Sox reached this point despite a serious wrist injury to star David Ortiz, multiple stints on the disabled list for stalwart Mike Lowell, a subpar seasons from ace Josh Beckett and catcher Jason Varitek, and a major midseason drama that saw disgruntled cleanup hitter Manny Ramirez traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"We've been through a lot of ups and downs and injuries," said Ortiz, who doubled ahead of Youkilis' two-run homer in the fourth inning Tuesday. "I missed two months myself. So we had to come back from injuries and things like that, we had a lot of guys go through it. But we've made it to the playoffs and we'll do it once again."

Jason Bay, the return for Ramirez in a three-team trade, said after a loss in Monday's series opener that he normally counts the days away at this time of year. After delivering the decisive RBI in a three-run fourth, he found himself drenched in champagne and a world away from his old team in Pittsburgh.

"Like anything, people can try to explain to you what it feels like but until you go through it yourself you have no idea," Bay said before dashing to the field to celebrate with teammates on the diamond.

Needing just one win in their final seven games to clinch, the Red Sox stranded 12 runners in a maddening loss to open the four-game set Monday. However, they were 3-for-7 with runners in scoring position Tuesday to get the better of AL Cy Young Award front-runner Cliff Lee (22-3).

Youkilis' 27th blast in the fourth opened the scoring and, after some sloppy defense allowed Cleveland to take a 4-2 lead in the top of the fifth, Pedroia tied it with a two-run double in the bottom half.

One out later, Indians manager Eric Wedge elected to intentionally walk Youkilis - one of four times he reached base - to pitch to Bay, who singled to left to cap the scoring.

That made a winner of Tim Wakefield (10-11), who allowed four runs in six innings, but not before the Red Sox bullpen was tested.

Hideki Okajima stranded three runners to end the eighth and Jonathan Papelbon - the fifth Boston reliever of the night - came on to do the same in the eighth.

Papelbon, who nailed down the 2007 World Series sweep with a strikeout, worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his 41st save. After striking out the first two in the frame, he got Victor Martinez to pop to shortstop Alex Cora and sent Fenway Park into a frenzy now common this time of year in Boston.

Papelbon embraced catcher Kevin Cash when the last out fell into Cora's glove and was soon mobbed by his teammates.

In a raucous clubhouse, the focus stayed on overcoming odds to build a better ballclub.

"I think the road we took this year as opposed to last year was a little tougher," Lowell said. "I think we had to overcome some more things than we did last year but sometimes that's a good thing. That's not always a negative."

Amid champagne and beer showers, Francona was already looking to Wednesday with the AL East still in the balance.

"We'll show up tomorrow and try to play good baseball and get our house in order," he said. "It's a little bit easier to do that without that last win hanging over your head."

The Indians (79-78) saw their season-high seven-game winning streak snapped and lost for the first time in Lee's last 10 starts. The veteran left hander gave up five runs and nine hits in seven innings, striking out eight and walking three.






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    Indians 4, Red Sox 5  Top 9, 0 OutsSep 23 9:54 PM


  • AL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    CLEVELAND 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 4 9 0
    BOSTON 0 0 0 2 3 0 0 0 x 5 9 1 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: CLE - CLIFF LEE, BRENDAN DONNELLY (8TH) AND KELLY SHOPPACH
    BOS - TIM WAKEFIELD, MANNY DELCARMEN (7TH), HIDEKI
    OKAJIMA (7TH), JUSTIN MASTERSON (8TH), JAVIER LOPEZ (8

    Sep 23 9:54 PM
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    Indians 4, Red Sox 5  Bot 7, 0 OutsSep 23 9:06 PM
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  • AL
    AT BOSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY JASON BAY SCORED DUSTIN PEDROIA.
    SITUATION: 3 RUNS IN, J BAY ON FIRST, K YOUKILIS ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CLEVELAND 4
    BOSTON 5 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR BOSTON: J LOWRIE (.258, 0-FOR-2)

    Indians 4, Red Sox 5  Bot 5, 0 OutsSep 23 8:31 PM
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    Indians 4, Red Sox 5  Bot 5, 0 OutsSep 23 8:31 PM


  • AL
    AT BOSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY DUSTIN PEDROIA SCORED COCO CRISP AND JACOBY
    ELLSBURY.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, D PEDROIA ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CLEVELAND 4
    BOSTON 4 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR BOSTON: D ORTIZ (.266, 1-FOR-2)

    Indians 4, Red Sox 4  Bot 5, 0 OutsSep 23 8:26 PM
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    Indians 4, Red Sox 2  Bot 5, 0 OutsSep 23 8:18 PM


  • AL
    AT BOSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY JHONNY PERALTA SCORED SHIN-SOO CHOO.
    SITUATION: 4 RUNS IN, J PERALTA ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CLEVELAND 4
    BOSTON 2 TOP, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR CLEVELAND: V MARTINEZ (.276, 0-FOR-2)

    Indians 4, Red Sox 2  Top 5, 0 OutsSep 23 8:17 PM


  • AL
    AT BOSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY SHIN-SOO CHOO SCORED GRADY SIZEMORE.
    SITUATION: 3 RUNS IN, S CHOO ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CLEVELAND 3
    BOSTON 2 TOP, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR CLEVELAND: J PERALTA (.272, 0-FOR-1, BB)

    Indians 3, Red Sox 2  Top 5, 0 OutsSep 23 8:16 PM


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    AT BOSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    GROUND OUT BY JAMEY CARROLL SCORED FRANKLIN GUTIERREZ.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, G SIZEMORE ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CLEVELAND 2
    BOSTON 2 TOP, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR CLEVELAND: S CHOO (.306, 0-FOR-2)

    Indians 2, Red Sox 2  Top 5, 0 OutsSep 23 8:15 PM


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    AT BOSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    TWO-RUN HOME RUN BY KEVIN YOUKILIS (27) TO LEFT WITH 0 OUT
    IN THE 4TH OFF CLIFF LEE SCORED DAVID ORTIZ.
    CURRENT SCORE: CLEVELAND 0, BOSTON 2
    DUE UP FOR BOSTON: J BAY (.303, 0-FOR-1)

    Indians 0, Red Sox 2  Bot 4, 0 OutsSep 23 8:00 PM
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