The Red Sox lost a key battle. Then they won the war, 8-6, Saturday night against the archrival Yankees.
The critical confrontation occurred in the eighth inning, when Vicente Padilla was brought in to protect a two-run advantage. Pinch hitter Raul Ibanez greeted him with a single to right before Derek Jeter struck out looking. Curtis Granderson narrowly missed two home runs with deep drives that curved foul down the rightfield line before he went down swinging.
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A righthanded reliever who has accused Teixeira of being prejudiced against Latin players and said he should play a "women's sport." A slugging first baseman who has accused Padilla of firing at batters to exact revenge while making a target of his own hitters.
Padilla fell behind 2-and-0. Then he made Teixeira look bad with a gutsy eephus pitch that all but crawled to the plate for a strike. Then Teixeira made Padilla look worse by launching his 20th home run on a towering drive to right, suddenly evening the score at 6-6.
After saying so much about Teixeira in the past, the 34-year-old righthander was rendered all but speechless this time. Asked for postgame comment, he replied: "About what? One bad day?"
The way this season has gone for the Red Sox, besieged by injuries and controversy, his bad day would typically have turned into an awful night. They had, after all, dropped six of their first seven games this season to the high-powered AL East leaders.
But Saturday night was different. Jacoby Ellsbury worked a one-out walk against closer Rafael Soriano. Pedro Ciriaco got a gift RBI triple when Curtis Granderson misplayed his drive to center. Dustin Pedroia followed with a sacrifice fly before Alfredo Aceves retired the Yankees in order. Aceves' 22nd save in a must-have victory allowed Boston to creep to within one game of .500 at 50-51.
"It was great to win a game after getting tied in the eighth, that's for sure," said manager Bobby Valentine, who has clashed with a number of veterans and been involved in more than his share of off-field drama in his first season in Boston.
Valentine was in such a good mood, he forgave Padilla for failing to record what would have been his team-leading 21st hold.
"Vicente is an aggressive pitcher," he said. "Some days, he is going to get hit. It happens. I want him to stay aggressive.
"He just missed location with Teixeira, and he's a great hitter and he made him pay for it."
Teixeira also made Padilla pay July 6 with a two-run, seventh-inning triple when the visiting Yankees pounded out a 10-8 victory in Boston. Yet Valentine said he would not back down from matching them up again.
"I believe in my players," he said. "I don't think that's going to happen every time. He'll make adjustments."