When the Red Sox snapped their 10-game losing streak on Monday, Dustin Pedroia said the team was good enough to turn around and win 10 in a row.
With first baseman Mike Napoli, right fielder Shane Victorino, and two of their starting pitchers on the disabled list, Pedroia’s comment seemed like little more than postgame bravado.
But as each day passes, it doesn’t seem like an outlandish claim any more.
The win streak hit four for the patched-together Red Sox on Thursday night. They scored three runs in the final two innings to beat the Atlanta Braves, 4-3, before a crowd of 36,292 at Fenway Park.
The winning run came in the bottom of the ninth inning as Jackie Bradley Jr. dived on the plate following an infield single by Xander Bogaerts and an error by the Braves. It was the third walkoff victory of the season for the Sox and their fourth win against the Braves in four days.
“That’s a first-place team and we beat them four times,” catcher David Ross said. “That’s big for us.”
The winning rally started when All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel walked Bradley and Brock Holt on 10 pitches in a 3-3 game.
“Kimbrel hadn’t pitched in five days,” left fielder Jonny Gomes said. “I told Jackie not to swing. That got us going.”
Bogaerts fell behind, 0 and 2, before Kimbrel threw him a 98-mile-per-hour fastball that was up in the strike zone. Bogaerts hit the ball hard to third base.
Chris Johnson made a diving stop and fired to second base. Rookie second baseman Tommy La Stella let the ball get away and Bradley scored.
“I just kept running,” Bradley said. “We made something happen that inning.”
Said Bogaerts: “I tried to relax. But I was a bit nervous. I even bit my lip and then I told myself, ‘You know what? Calm down.’ ”
With their lineup depleted by injuries, the Sox have been boosted by the play of Bogaerts, Bradley, and Holt.
The 21-year-old Boagerts is 11 of 26 (.423) in the last six games and is hitting .296 on the season with a .388 on-base percentage. Bradley, slumping for much of the season, is 4 of 11 with three RBIs in the last three games and Holt has hit safely in nine of the last 10 games. He was 3 for 4 along with the walk on Thursday.
“The young guys are getting plenty of opportunity,” manager John Farrell said. “Particularly the top of the order. Brock and Xander [were] on base I think seven times combined. It’s good to see young, athletic guys starting to gain a little momentum, a little confidence.”
Down, 3-1, the Red Sox tied the game in the eighth against Atlanta reliever David Carpenter, who was the victim of poor outfield defense.
Holt singled to left field and took second when the ball slid past Justin Upton for an error.
Bogaerts was next and he singled to center field to drive in Holt. Dustin Pedroia followed with an infield single. La Stella had a play at second base but couldn’t pick the ball up cleanly.
A.J. Pierzynski singled to center and this time B.J. Upton bobbled the ball. After initially being held up, Bogaerts came around to score and Pedroia went to third on the second error of the inning.
With runners on first and third and no outs, the Red Sox should have been able to take the lead. But Gomes struck out on three pitches. Lefthander Luis Avilan then struck out Grady Sizemore on five pitches.
David Ortiz, scratched from the starting lineup with a sore right calf, pinch hit for Daniel Nava and was intentionally walked after he didn’t swing at the first pitch.
With the bases loaded and two outs, the Braves went to Kimbrel. David Ross fouled off a bunt attempt before ending the inning with a fly ball to left field.
“Wasn’t going to pinch hit for Ross in case we went to extra innings,” Farrell said. “We were maxed out in terms of moves.”
Koji Uehara (1-1) threw one inning for the win after Jake Peavy went eight solid innings.
Peavy had pitched poorly in his three previous starts, allowing 16 earned runs on 28 hits over 16⅓ innings. But he was sharper against the Braves, giving up three runs on eight hits. He walked one and struck out four.
Jason Heyward gave Atlanta a 1-0 lead in the third inning with his fifth home run. Peavy left a changeup up in the strike zone and Heyward sent it five rows deep into the stands in right field.
The Braves went up, 2-0, in the fourth inning. Freddie Freeman drew a leadoff walk and was awarded second base when second base umpire Bob Davidson called a balk.
Davidson is known as “Balkin’ Bob” for his frequent balk calls. None of the other umpires noticed an infraction and Peavy protested the call so vehemently Pedroia had to prod him back to the mound.
The call proved significant when Evan Gattis singled to left field and Freeman scored.
“I still don’t know what I did,” Peavy said. “That’s just Bob. I was so mad I didn’t even want to talk to him.”
Peavy pitched into the eighth inning for the first time this season and gave up a third run. B.J. Upton led off with a single and scored when Freeman doubled to center.
The eight innings were Peavy’s most since a complete game against the Dodgers last Aug. 25. With Triple A call-ups Brandon Workman and Rubby De La Rosa starting the next two games, the eight-inning effort was valuable to the bullpen.
“We all know what this team is going through in terms of injuries,” Peavy said. “You’re seeing a lot of guys chipping in and I wanted to do my part. We’re figuring out how to win games again and that’s great to see.”