Kalish's slam powers Red Sox past Halos

Kalish's slam powers Red Sox past Halos

BOSTON -- It was going to take a lot to trump the long-awaited return of Dustin Pedroia, particularly when you consider the overwhelming affinity that Red Sox Nation has for the star second baseman. But on Tuesday night at Fenway, the game-turning hit was not turned in by Pedroia, but rather Ryan Kalish, who continues to impress in his crash course to the Major Leagues.

Kalish crushed his first career grand slam, a game-breaking hit that led the Red Sox to a 6-0 shutout over the Angels.

"He's legit," said slugger David Ortiz. "That's legit right there."

Nobody enjoyed the two-out smash by Kalish in the bottom of the fourth more than Pedroia.

"He's a great player, he brings a ton to our team," said Pedroia. "There's a lot of excitement -- there's not anything he can't do on a baseball field. He's been great since he got called up."

Then there is Clay Buchholz, who has been great the entire season.

The wiry righty fired seven shutout innings, allowing five hits. Buchholz is in the thick of the American League's Cy Young Award race with a 14-5 record and a league-leading 2.36 ERA. This was the 12th time in Buchholz's 21 starts he has limited opponents to fewer than two earned runs.

Imagine how well he might have pitched in this one if he had his best command?

"Sometimes you won't have your good stuff and you have to battle and find your way through it," said Buchholz. "I think that's the name of the game. That's what pitchers are called pitchers for. If they go out there and execute on a given night where you don't have your best stuff or don't have the location that you normally do ... you just have to find a way to get through it."

As for Pedroia, his return from a fractured navicular bone in his left foot was pretty uneventful. The second baseman went 0-for-4 with an error, but he also made a couple of nice plays on defense.

"It was great just being out there, being with the guys, and just being a part of a win," Pedroia said. "I know the results weren't good on my part, but it was a blast being out there."

Amid an all-around good night for the Red Sox, the only thing that didn't go right was the scoreboard watching. The Yankees downed the Tigers and the Rays upended the Rangers, leaving Boston 5 1/2 games back in both the American League and AL Wild Card races.

The 68-52 Sox have another 42 games to try to punch a ticket to October.

"We all believe in our team, and we've just got to keep winning ballgames," Pedroia said. "We play the guys in front of us quite a bit, so if we play good baseball and beat those teams, we can get in. We feel we can."

The Red Sox didn't get a hit off Angels ace Jered Weaver over the first two innings, but Darnell McDonald came up with a loud one with two outs in the bottom of the third, clubbing a towering solo shot that shattered a car window in the parking lot behind the Green Monster to give Buchholz a 1-0 lead.

"When I hit it, it was one of those balls where you knew you hit it well," said McDonald.

In the fourth, the Red Sox were rewarded for their patience. J.D. Drew and Mike Lowell both worked two-out walks against Weaver, and Kalish made the righty pay. His blast soared through the gap in right-center and into Boston's bullpen. It was Kalish's second career home run, and first at Fenway.

At that point, the decibel levels at Fenway topped even what they were for Pedroia's first at-bat.

"Yeah, that was unreal, especially being here at Fenway, just being a part of the win," said Kalish. "Jered is a really good pitcher over there. We had Buck on the mound. A five-run lead with Buck on the mound, we had to be pretty confident about that. It was nice to be part of a win, help everyone out."

The Red Sox would have had three homers on the night if not for a spectacular play by Angels right fielder Torii Hunter, who lunged over the bullpen wall in right-center to rob Beltre in the second.

"Unfortunately, he can play right field, too," Francona said of Hunter, who recently moved over from center. "It's not the easiest place to jump the way that wall is. He's a tremendous outfielder."

While Buchholz continued to pound the zone and keep the Angels off the board, his teammates added on. In the fifth, David Ortiz and Victor Martinez struck back-to-back doubles to make it 6-0.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.