Sure, Pedroia replied. But the emphatic answer to Francona's question would come several times from the second baseman's bat. Pedroia ripped a career-high three home runs, belted five hits and drove in five runs, and the Red Sox needed every bit of it, somehow escaping Coors Field with a thrilling 13-11 victory over the Rockies in 10 innings on Thursday night.
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
It was a game that took four hours and 48 minutes to play and featured four lead changes and a total of 33 hits. Through all of the madness, there was simply no stopping Pedroia, who quite simply had the game of his life on a night his team desperately needed it. His third blast was a two-out, two-run shot in the top of the 10th on an 0-1 slider from Huston Street.
"I'm just happy we won, man," said Pedroia, who helped the Red Sox stave off a three-game sweep. "That was a crazy game. Long. It was mentally draining, so I was happy we won."
Pedroia never hit three home runs in the Minor Leagues or during his years as a collegiate star at Arizona State University. He didn't even do it in high school or Little League.
"No, I've never hit three home runs before," confirmed Pedroia. "I've gotten five hits but never gone deep three times."
The Red Sox hadn't had a three-homer performance since July 23, 2004, when Kevin Millar belted three solo shots in a Fenway Park loss to the Yankees. It was the 25th three-homer performance in Red Sox history. Pedroia had hit two homers in a Major League game only once before -- last season against the Orioles.
"That's unbelievable," said Francona. "That's one of the best performances I've ever seen. That's like [Ryne] Sandberg-esque. That's awesome."
Perhaps nobody felt better about Pedroia's monster night than closer Jonathan Papelbon, who blew his second save in as many nights in the bottom of the ninth. Papelbon came on with an 11-9 lead. After opening with a strikeout of Jonathan Herrera, the right-hander gave up three straight hits, capped by a blooped two-run single to left off the bat of Brad Hawpe to tie the game.
It was the first time Papelbon had blown back-to-back saves since May 7 and 9, 2008, and just the third time in his career. But it was the first time the four-time All-Star had done so on back-to-back days.
"I'm looking at a 3-0 bloop hit that turns the entire game around," Papelbon said. "I'm fighting to get back in that game; I felt good about that situation I was in, and I felt good about getting out of that situation. A 3-0 bloop hit -- what am I going to do about that besides try to focus on positive things and move forward? That's it."
One night earlier, Papelbon surrendered a game-tying solo shot to Ian Stewart and a two-run walk-off blast to Jason Giambi.
This time, however, Papelbon avoided any walk-off heroics and even came back out for the 10th to earn the win. For that, he had Pedroia to thank.
"I don't think he only picked me up," Papelbon said. "He picked the entire team up."
Marco Scutaro started the winning rally with an infield single. With two outs, Pedroia once again managed to have the barrel of his bat meet the baseball, and he just hoped he got enough of it.
"I didn't know -- I hit it real high," Pedroia said. "I got it on the barrel and I backspun it. With the thin air, I was just hoping it would get in the first or second row. I didn't even see [it land]. I just saw the left fielder put his head down. I said, 'That's awesome.'"
Awesome was not a word to describe how Street felt at that moment.
"He's got that MVP by his name for a reason," Street said of Pedroia. "He had a good night. I don't think we made our pitches against him. I know I didn't."
The focus entering the night was Daisuke Matsuzaka, who was pitching for the first time since June 7 after a precautionary stint on the disabled list. The rust clearly seemed to impact Dice-K during a 37-pitch first inning in which he gave up two runs.
But as he has the ability to do, Matsuzaka found his rhythm thereafter, enabling his team the chance to figure out Rockies starter Jason Hammel, who was knocked around for seven hits and four runs, all of them coming in the top of the fourth.
Naturally, it was Pedroia who started that rally, belting a homer to left to lead off the inning. Mike Cameron added a two-run double and Matsuzaka even got in on the act, lining an RBI single to right to put Boston up, 4-2.
Adrian Beltre mauled a two-run homer in the fifth, and the Sox were up four.
Matsuzaka gave up five hits and two runs over five innings, walking four and striking out six.
"I think the first inning was awful, but after that, I was able to dig in and battle my way through the rest of the outing," Matsuzaka said.
Matsuzaka left with a 6-2 lead but had to settle for a no-decision.
This was because of an implosion by Manny Delcarmen (no outs, two hits, three runs, one walk) and Hideki Okajima (two-thirds of an inning, four hits, three runs) in the bottom of the sixth. At that point, the Sox were down, 8-6.
But again, they came storming back, and quickly. Beltre came through with an RBI single to right and Jason Varitek hit a two-run double down the line in right, putting Boston was back in front.
Pedroia's second homer of the night gave the Sox a three-run cushion entering the bottom of the eighth. But no lead seemed safe in this one. The Red Sox were just fortunate that Pedroia's bat never ran out of answers.
"That's a real three-hole hitter right there," Scutaro hollered as Pedroia held court with reporters.
In truth, it doesn't much matter what lineup slot Pedroia hits in. The Red Sox are just glad he's on their team.
"There were a lot of things that happened tonight," Francona said. "The word resilient keeps coming up. We didn't do some things correct, but we did enough."
And Pedroia did more than enough.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.