While maintaining a 4 1/2-game lead over the Yankees in the American League East, Boston has ripped off 12 victories in the last 14 games since July 31.
“I think we’re just playing the game, playing hard and playing nine innings and not giving up no matter what the score is,” said Betts. “I think we’re just, like I said, learning our identity and grinding.”
For the Cardinals, what seemed like a sure win came to a grinding halt, and the loss dropped them 2 1/2 games behind the Cubs in the National League Central.
“There was a lot of frustration at the end,” said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, referencing not only the outcome but also the club’s multiple disagreements with home-plate umpire Chris Segal. The final one ended with Matheny being ejected.
With Boston trailing 4-2 heading into the final frame, Xander Bogaerts made it a one-run game by leading off the inning with a homer against Trevor Rosenthal, who was pitching with significantly diminished velocity and was pulled by Matheny after the next batter (Mitch Moreland) drew a six-pitch walk.
Lefty Zach Duke was lifted after a one-out walk to Jackie Bradley Jr. Matheny then went to rookie righty John Brebbia, but the Sharon, Mass., native couldn’t get the job done while vying for his first career save.
“Felt good about Brebbia. Felt good about Duke,” Matheny said. “[Brebbia] made some really good pitches there in a very, very tough situation. I think he continues to go up in our view of how we can use him.”
With two outs, Betts got enough of a 3-2 slider to find a piece of wall. Pinch-runner Chris Young scored from second to tie it and Bradley roared all the way around from first to make it to the plate, where catcher Yadier Molina couldn’t hold on to the relay throw.
“As I’m watching it unfold, it was a good throw there and I thought they had him there, but they didn’t catch it, so we were fortunate enough to win the game,” said Betts.
It was a thrilling turn of events for the Red Sox, who celebrated the 50-year anniversary of their “Impossible Dream” before the game and pulled out a victory that was reminiscent of that ’67 season.
“Obviously an exciting finish,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “Bogey gets us started with the solo home run, and it’s good to see him start to drive the ball a little more frequently. This team is so resilient.”
St. Louis came up with four runs against Eduardo Rodriguez in the top of the second inning. Kolten Wong (RBI single), Luke Voit (RBI double) and Matt Carpenter (RBI single) delivered the key knocks. But the Cardinals didn’t score for the rest of the night. That proved to be costly.
Cards starter Lance Lynn scattered seven hits and allowed two runs (one earned) over six innings and was in position to get the win. But he wound up with a no-decision.
The Red Sox won all four matchups against the Cardinals this season.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
JBJ’s unusual assist: Bradley had a couple of unique chances to throw out a runner at the plate during the four-run second, and he was successful on the second try. With Voit on third and one out, Carpenter stung a liner that fell just in front of Bradley. Voit got a late start because he was waiting to see if it got caught. Bradley fired home with a 95.5-mph throw that traveled 230 feet, according to Statcast™, but catcher Christian Vazquez couldn’t hang on to the throw, and Carpenter advanced to third. Tommy Pham came up next, and his liner to center was eerily similar to the one by Carpenter. Again, Bradley fielded it on a hop. Carpenter, who had to stay close to third in case it was caught, was thrown out at the plate by Bradley on a 95.8-mph throw that went 254 feet.
“Line drive, I actually started trying to take a sharper angle to it, but then it started coming towards me, so I had to readjust, and knowing I was going to catch it in the air, I just tried to get in front of it and make sure I’d keep it in front to body it up,” said Bradley. “It hopped right in my glove. I saw he was maybe one or two steps from third base. I felt like I was shallow enough to try to make a play at home.”
Carpenter said his read and reaction were complicated by the fact that he was running on contact.
“When you’re on contact, you have to make at least three hard steps home,” Carpenter said. “When the ball is hit as hard as it was, take those three hard steps and then try to get back and tag in case he catches it, and then when he doesn’t catch it, you’re just in no-man’s land. Looking back on it, I wasn’t going to score either way. The only other option would be to stay there and not go and hope that the next guy drives me in. So I took a gamble that the guy wouldn’t make a good throw, and he made a good throw.” More >
JBJ’s mad dash home: Bradley had a feeling Betts might hit the Green Monster in the bottom of the ninth, so he made his pitch to third-base coach Brian Butterfield.
“I was telling Butter before the play, ‘Anything off that wall, send me.’ It kind of helped that we got to the 3-2 count so I would get a running start,” said Bradley. “It hit off the wall and I was just trying to keep telling myself, ‘Get the truck off my back.’”
Bradley motored home at 28.6 feet per second, according to Statcast™, up a tick from his max-average effort of 27.3 feet per second. More >
“I get kind of spoiled. I see it all the time. It’s just amazing when you sit back and just kind of watch what he does. It’s like art. He’s the best in the league in my eyes, for sure.” — Betts, on watching Bradley play defense
“Every umpire has a different zone, even though that’s what’s not supposed to happen. You try to do everything you can and just figure it out. I was able to get through six and give our team a chance to win.” — Lynn, on grinding through his 110-pitch effort on a night when he felt the strike zone was tight
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Red Sox are 14-1 in their last 15 Interleague home games and are 30-10 in their last 40 games against the NL Central.
Cardinals: A big four-game series against division-rival Pittsburgh looms for the Cardinals, who will kick off the set by sending Adam Wainwright to the mound in Thursday’s 6:05 p.m. CT game at PNC Park. Wainwright is coming off an outing in which he pitched through arm stiffness.
Red Sox: After a day off on Thursday, the Red Sox host the Yankees for a three-game rivalry showdown that begins on Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Lefty Drew Pomeranz will start the opener. The Red Sox are 5-7 against the Yankees this season, including 2-4 at Fenway Park.
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This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.