CHICAGO – Jarrod Saltalamacchia was struggling, so Manager Bobby Valentine did something drastic.

Bench him? Nope.

Instead, he started him in the cleanup spot Saturday for the first time in his career, and for one night at least, it worked.

Saltalamacchia homered to back a strong start by Jon Lester, and the Boston Red Sox beat the Chicago Cubs, 4-3.

“Sometimes crazy times ask for crazy measures,” Valentine said. And the way he saw it, batting Saltalamacchia in the fourth slot was one.

Saltalamacchia went into the game mired in an 0-for-17 slide but broke out of it with two hits, including a two-run drive in the fourth, and Boston came out on top after dropping 8 of 11.


Scott Podsednik and Mike Aviles had two hits apiece, and Podsednik and Will Middlebrooks each drove in a run.

Lester (4-4) and the Red Sox were leading 4-0 when the Cubs rallied in the seventh.

Jeff Baker led off with a bloop double and Welington Castillo walked with one out. Then Luis Valbuena belted a three-run homer for his first hit with Chicago.

Lester struck out David DeJesus before Scott Atchison retired Reed Johnson on a grounder to end the inning. Vicente Padilla worked the eighth and Alfredo Aceves finished for his 16th save in 19 chances.

Pinch-hitter Steve Clevenger started the Cubs’ ninth with a single, but Aceves struck out Bryan LaHair and got Castillo to bounce into a game-ending double play.

Lester gave the Red Sox just what they needed. He allowed seven hits, struck out eight and walked one against a team that came in with a .222 average against left-handers, third-lowest in the National League.


Jeff Samardzija (5-5) struck out six in 51/3 innings for the Cubs after getting roughed up in a loss to Minnesota in his previous start. He was charged with three runs and four hits.

Samardzija was lifted after issuing consecutive walks to David Ortiz and Saltalamacchia. Randy Wells came in, and Middlebrooks drove in Ortiz with a single.

Samardzija’s only other glitch was the drive to right by Saltalamacchia on a 1-2 splitter.

“It felt good,” Saltalamacchia said. “I talked to (Valentine) as I was walking out (Friday) night and that’s exactly what he said. He said ‘They’re gonna start falling because you’ve been swinging the bat well.’ “

The Cubs threatened with two outs in the sixth, but an Alfonso Soriano breakdown ended it.

With runners on first and second, Middlebrooks dropped his hard liner to third. Soriano never ran and was thrown out at first.


A crowd that had seen lapses before let him have it on the way to the dugout and when he trotted back out to left field. There were more loud boos when he struck out in the eighth.

But Soriano said he didn’t deserve that kind of treatment.

“I think that they don’t understand the game,” Soriano said. “It’s a line drive, nothing you can do. If it’s a ground ball and I don’t run, they can do whatever they want. But a hard line drive right at the glove? I don’t know what they want.”


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