BOSTON -- Dustin Pedroia won it Tuesday night for the Red Sox, 5-1 over the Blue Jays, by capping a classic two-out rally with a single up the middle in the seventh inning at Fenway Park.
His slump is sufficiently defeated with a .323 clip in his last eight games, and he remains the Red Sox's go-to man, right alongside David Ortiz.
"I think it means a lot ... the way we did it," manager Bobby Valentine said. "I think with Dustin getting the two RBIs with the bases loaded. Seems like it's been so long since he's been in that opportunity late in the game where he can win the game. It presented itself, and he drove the runs in. That really gives us strength."
The win was a drawing board come-from-behind victory, in the way Valentine spoke of. It also set up a rubber match on Wednesday afternoon at 1:35 p.m. ET, and it gives Boston a chance to win its fifth straight series. The Red Sox have won eight of 10.
Presumably, that rally would have had no legs if it were not for its igniter, Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Little about the power surge he's shown this year could be considered an expectation. The catcher started the day leading the Majors in home runs for a backstop, and he crushed his 14th of the season to the opposite field on a fastball from Blue Jays reliever Jason Frasor.
Saltalamacchia's career high for homers is 16, a number that would now be hard to not surpass.
"He's playing a confident brand of baseball, because he believes in himself," Valentine said. "He's a talented player. And you know I haven't seen him get down on himself -- I was telling him during the game, you know, I haven't seen him get down on a pitcher, I haven't seen any, some things that might have haunted his past just seemed to be gone and he's just playing the game of baseball. Looks good doing it."
Said David Ortiz, who was 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles: "He's learning, man. Learning how to be patient, how to select his pitches. He's powerful, very powerful."
Before Saltalamacchia's homer, the Red Sox had been baffled by a starting pitcher who was making his 50th career start but also his first in nearly two years: Blue Jays left-hander Aaron Laffey. He embarked on a less-than-likely pitchers' duel with Boston's Daisuke Matsuzaka, who overcame a shaky first inning, when he allowed his only run.
Laffey's 82 pitches made for a more efficient night than Matsuzaka, who needed 100 to get through 5 2/3, but the right-hander turned in his best start of the year, even if he was disappointed with it. Matsuzaka struck out five.
"We ended up winning the game, so I'm really happy about that," Matsuzaka said through a translator. "I do have to give credit to myself to holding them to one run in the first inning. Other than that, I need to go deeper into the game to be more satisfied with my pitching. ... I'm not satisfied with the way I pitched today."
Lefty Andrew Miller, who recorded the last out of the top of the seventh inning, improved to 2-0.
Boston added two runs in the eighth. In the sixth, when the Red Sox were still being shut down, 1-0, their potential tying run in Pedroia was cut down by an amazing throw from Blue Jays left fielder Rajai Davis on one of Ortiz's doubles. Laffey didn't need much help beyond that.
"There were definitely some points where I had to make some pitches, bear down and make some pitches in big situations, and I was able to do that," Laffey said. "I was lucky I had good four-seam command."