BOSTON -- Jonathan Papelbon made his way to the Major Leagues in 2005 as a talented pitcher the Red Sox mixed into both the bullpen and the starting rotation.
On Sunday against the Orioles, Papelbon earned a career milestone at the pitching spot he's become synonymous with in the Boston area. The All-Star closer recorded his 100th career save in a 2-1 series-clinching win against Baltimore.
It wasn't his more pristine trip to the mound; Papelbon allowed an earned run and gave up three hits. But with runners on the corners -- including the go-ahead run on first -- he showed the poise he's displayed throughout his career in the closer's role by forcing Melvin Mora to hit a weak liner to Dustin Pedroia.
"Well, he got his money's worth," manager Terry Francona said. "You'll see a lot more [saves]. He's one of the best in the game."
Papelbon's first season as a closer was an instant success. He nabbed 35 saves in 2006 and harbored a 0.92 ERA.
He's in the midst of a career season in 2008. Already at 27 saves, the 27-year-old is well on his way to breaking his career high of 37 set in 2007.
But Papelbon's sights are set even higher.
"It's a culmination of a lot of things," Papelbon said. "But that's 100 down, and I guess  or 400 more to go."
It is that outlook that makes Papelbon a seriously dangerous threat to opposing teams when he comes out of the bullpen in the ninth. He'll be making his third All-Star appearance this week in New York, and as his manager indicated, there are likely a lot more of those appearances to come.
And when "Shipping Up to Boston" blares from the speakers at Fenway Park, there's no doubt his teammates -- and the usual sellout crowd on hand -- knows that a Sox victory is likely on the way.
"I think it's a very satisfying feeling, that in the ninth, no matter what, the odds are heavily in your favor that you're going to get the victory," third baseman Mike Lowell said. "And it doesn't look like he's going to slow down anytime soon, so I think that's good for us."
Mark Remme is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.