BOSTON — Leave it to old No. 76.

Pinch-runner Jose Iglesias, just up from Pawtucket – and a 2010 Sea Dog – scored the winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning Monday night, coming around from first base, on Carl Crawford’s double off the Green Monster.

It had the Red Sox celebrating a needed win.

This was not a must-win. It’s a tad early for such hysteria. But the victory did give Boston a winning record on this homestand (6-5), a series win (only the Red Sox’s fourth this season), and put Boston closer to .500 (17-18).

For a while, it looked like Adrian Gonzalez’s RBI single in the fifth was going to stand up, with Josh Beckett pitching a shutout.

It would have meant another success story for Red Sox Player Development.

Not only is the Fenway infield dominated by prospects that came through Portland – Kevin Youkilis at third, Jed Lowrie at short, and Dustin Pedroia at second – but there is Jacoby Ellsbury, and his 18-game hitting streak, playing center.

And there was Jonathan Papelbon jogging in from the bullpen (more on that later).

As for Beckett and Gonzalez, they came to Boston indirectly with help from former Sea Dogs Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, Anthony Rizzo and Casey Kelly.

With Ramirez and Sanchez traded to Florida, the Red Sox got Beckett.

With Rizzo and Kelly dealt to San Diego, Boston welcomed Gonzalez.

Without Beckett and Gonzalez, this slow Red Sox start would have been worse.

Beckett pitched seven shutout innings to lower his ERA to 1.99. Gonzalez contributed his 10th RBI on this 11-game home stand. He’s batting .317.

Papelbon had been 5 for 5 in save situations until Monday. He entered with two outs in the eighth with a runner on second base and left-handed Jason Kubel coming to bat.

Terry Francona’s move allows for some second-guessing.

Besides Papelbon, lefty Rich Hill was also warming in the bullpen.

In Pawtucket, lefties batted .100 against Hill. Since his call-up, they are 0 for 4 against him. Hill had faced Kubel once in his career, striking him out.

Conversely, Kubel was 3 for 8 against Papelbon.

Now he’s 4 for 9. Kubel won an eight-pitch battle with an RBI single to center.

Before the game, Francona talked about having Daniel Bard and Papelbon for the eighth and ninth innings.

“You get to Bard and Pap. It doesn’t guarantee you’re going to win, but you’ve gotten to where you need to be,” Francona said.

Bard had pitched the previous two games and was apparently unavailable.

Francona went with Alfredo Aceves to begin the eighth. Then, instead of Hill, Francona did what he often does – go with a pitcher he trusts.

Papelbon finished the eighth and the ninth.

Then trust was tossed out the window as Francona called on Hideki Okajima and his 5.68 ERA.

Okajima, despite a walk and single with one out, got out of the 10th.

That led to the bizarre scene in the bottom of the 10th. With Pedroia on third base with two out, left-handed reliever Jose Mijares intentionally walked Youkilis to face the once-feared David Ortiz.

The lefty-on-lefty move worked and Ortiz grounded out.

Okajima allowed another walk/single combo with one out in the 11th, and got out of it.

But Okajima threw 43 pitches. Hill was back on the bullpen mound.

Hill was not needed. Lowrie walked with one out in the 11th. Francona sent Iglesias – wearing No. 76 – in to run.

Crawford worked a full count and Iglesias was running on the pitch. He slowed around second and the rookie watched Crawford’s ball go off the wall, and then sprinted home.

Just another kid coming from Hadlock Field and making an impact at Fenway.


Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: [email protected]


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