Top-heavy lineup pays dividends

Top-heavy lineup pays dividends

BOSTON -- Top-heavy? Certainly. Over the top? No doubt. Either way, the Red Sox had no complaints with the new 1-2 punch of J.D. Drew and Dustin Pedroia basically taking over Friday night's game and overwhelming the Giants by themselves.

It was by no means an understatement to say that Drew (3-for-4, three runs, three RBIs) and Pedroia (5-for-5, two runs, homer, five RBIs) were the Boston offense en route to this 10-2 romp over the Giants. Coco Crisp was the only other Sox player to have a hit.

"We were able to grind out some at-bats," said Sox third baseman Mike Lowell. "I think we put some good at-bats together to basically allow J.D. and Dustin to do their work, because nobody else did anything."

Well, nobody except for Julian Tavarez. Boston's No. 5 starter was solid once again, limiting the Giants to six hits and two runs (none after the first) over seven solid innings.

As he's done a few times this season, Tavarez got the best of the other team's ace -- this time, San Francisco's Barry Zito.

"He changed speeds real well and he stayed down like he needs to," said Sox manager Terry Francona. "He didn't get rattled and ended up pitching a really strong game."

The pregame storylines centered around a pair of Giants. Dave Roberts played at Fenway for the first time since his role as hero in Boston's 2004 postseason run. And Barry Bonds played his first game at Fenway.

But the revival of Boston's top of the order earned top billing by the end of the night, considering that Francona had spent the first few games of this homestand trying to find the right mix. A day after a 7-1 loss to the Rockies, the Drew-Pedroia combo paid dividends.

Drew and Pedroia didn't just frequent the bases. It was more like they left tread marks in the basepaths. And this was big on a night David Ortiz was ejected in the first inning for throwing his helmet after arguing a called third strike.

"We have all the confidence in J.D. and it was nice to see him have a nice night, and Petey topped him a little," said Sox catcher Jason Varitek. "Petey had a phenomenal night."

Petey, as some Sox players like to call Pedroia, delivered an early blow to the Giants momentum. San Francisco scored two in the top of the first and just like that, Pedroia belted a two-run homer into the Monster seats in the bottom of the inning.

The Giants went into silent mode for the rest of the night while Drew and Pedroia took over.

The five hits and five RBIs by Pedroia both represented personal bests in the rookie's young career. It was the first time a Sox rookie has had such a productive night since Brian Daubach had five hits and six RBIs against the Mariners on Aug. 14, 1999.

Pedroia's last five-hit game?

"I think Little League was the last time," Pedroia said. "I don't know. It's kind of exciting."

Drew, who was the target of the Fenway boo birds in Thursday night's 7-1 loss to the Rockies, turned the jeers into cheers in this one.

"It's a good sign," said Lowell. "I'm happy for J.D. He had some big hits today, nice day. Hopefully that will jump-start things and he can get hot. He's a really good player."

Boston went in front for the first time in the third on Manny Ramirez's fielder's-choice grounder to second. That rally was set in motion by singles from Drew and Pedroia and a walk to Wily Mo Pena, who replaced Big Papi.

Zito never settled in. He walked Mike Lowell to lead off the fourth, then walked No. 9 hitter Julio Lugo with two outs. The inning nearly ended on a pickoff, as Zito caught Lugo in no-man's land. But the Giants thought they had Lowell caught between third and home, only he somehow willed himself back to third base in time and everyone was safe.

"It was a little bit of luck, a little bit of tremendous athletic ability on my part," said Lowell. "It was nice, because J.D. got a big hit after that, so it worked out."

The big hit Lowell referred to was Drew's two-run double to center, out of the reach of Roberts. Then it was Pedroia's turn, and he roped a single to right, with Drew sliding in safely to just beat the throw by right fielder Nate Schierholtz. Suddenly, the Red Sox were in command, holding a 6-2 lead.

The way Tavarez was going, that seemed to be more than enough. Still, the Sox provided more insurance in the sixth. And again it was Drew coming through in the clutch, this time with an RBI single to right.

"I'm not really that worried about our offense," said Varitek. "We have different parts, and when they don't all click together, then we have trouble. We had a quality start and that allowed us to score some runs."

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