Jake Peavy pitched a complete game for Boston
on Sunday against the Los Angeles Dodgers. (AP photo Marcio Jose Sanchez)
To be honest, the Dodgers didn’t really get a fair Jake in the Game Three finale of the weekend series out in Los Angeles.
Newly acquired hurler Jake Peavy was reminiscent of his 2007 Cy Young award-winning self Sunday night as he made his fifth start for the Sox and twirled eight innings of three-hit, one-run baseball, walking only one and striking out four in a 111-pitch, complete-game tour de force as the Sox won 8-1.
With the victory — his second complete game of the season — Peavy (10-5, 4.25 ERA) moves to 14-2 lifetime against the Dodgers, and 7-1 in 13 career starts at Dodger Stadium, while the Sox improve to 77-55 on the season.
It was the first series loss for Los Angeles since June, and the second consecutive series win for Boston since losing three in a row to Kansas City, Toronto and New York.
Los Angeles starter Chris Capuano (4-7, 4.74 ERA) only was able to make it five innings and took the loss, allowing three runs on six hits before making way for relievers Chris Withrow, Carlos Marmol and Brandon League, who combined to serve up another five runs on six hits.
Offensively, Dustin Pedroia was firing on all cylinders for the Sox, going 3 for 4 at the plate with an RBI, while Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Mike Napoli and former Dodger Shane Victorino all went deep off the Dodger bullpen and recent call-up Xander Bogaerts recorded his first RBI in the major leagues. Every member of the Boston lineup was able to record a hit save for Peavy and Jonny Gomes.
Coincidentally, the Sunday-night clash fell on the one-year anniversary of last year’s mega-trade that saw Boston dump more than $250 million in salary in the form of Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto for a handful of prospects and first baseman James Loney. The Dodgers got some marquee names and massive contracts, while Boston freed up a pile of cash to invest in players like Napoli, Victorino, Gomes and Ryan Dempster.
That’s what gave all three games in the weekend series an added gravity: it wasn’t just a bicoastal grudge match or a get-even session — it was a postseason proving ground, and Boston further bolstered its case as a legitimate contender with the series win.
Here are the four at-bats that changed the game:
1) Pedroia Is Centered: After Ellsbury legged out an infield hit for a single, stole his MLB-leading 47th bag of the season and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Victorino, Pedroia ripped a sac fly to center that allowed the speedy Ellsbury to tag and score to give Boston a 2-0 lead in the third inning.
2) X-Ray Vision: In the fourth inning, Bogaerts stroked a Capuano pitch to center that outfielder Skip Schumaker bobbled and allowed Middlebrooks to score from second base for the Dutch call-up’s third hit and first RBI in the major leagues and a 3-1 advantage for the Sox.
3) Salty Aftertaste: With Napoli on first and two men down in the sixth, Saltalamacchia tattooed a Chris Withrow fastball into the left-field stands to provide Peavy with a 5-1 pad.
4) Better Late Than Never: The Sox scored in six of nine innings in the game, and saved the biggest bomb for last. After Pedroia doubled to right with two out, Napoli swaggered to the dish and absolutely crushed a sinker from League far, deep and no-doubt to left to give Boston an 8-1 lead.
With Tampa Bay (74-54) dropping a 3-2 decision in eleven innings to the Yankees earlier in the day, the Sox gained an full-game lead over the Rays as they battle to maintain their first-place perch in the American League East Division.
The Sox leave their six-game swing on the West Coast on a high note, going 4-2 and set to enjoy an off-day Monday before hosting the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park for a three-game set that begins Tuesday. Felix Doubront (9-6, 3.79 ERA) will look to follow up a stellar start in San Francisco on Aug. 21 where he went eight innings and gave up only one run on five hits. He is scheduled to face Wei-Yin Chen (7-6, 3.19 ERA) in the opener.