BOSTON (AP) | The accolades continue growing and the hits keep coming for Dustin Pedroia.
Pedroia’s two-run single capped a four-run sixth inning, Paul Byrd pitched seven efficient innings and the Boston Red Sox beat the struggling Baltimore Orioles 7-4 on Monday night.
Byrd, Pedroia’s teammate for a little less than three weeks, was gushing with praise for the scrappy second baseman.
“I can’t say enough about my second baseman,” Byrd said. “This guy, in my opinion, is the MVP of the league. He’s unbelievable. I didn’t know he was that good when I came over here.”
Pedroia, who hit .374 in August and closed the month going 9-for-12, scored 33 runs last month, the most for the Red Sox since Dom DiMaggio and Billy Goodwin had 35 in 1950, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“He said that,” Pedroia said, breaking into a smile, when informed of Byrd’s MVP comment. “That’s a great compliment coming from him. I definitely love playing behind him.”
On Monday, he was 2-for-4, scored a run and made a nice backhanded play on Brian Roberts’ seventh-inning grounder.
“A lot of people talk about Manny [Ramirez] leaving. I wish Pedroia was leaving,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said a few days earlier.
The Red Sox, who had the AL’s second-best record at 18-9 in August but failed to gain ground on AL East-leading Tampa Bay, which went 21-7, pulled to five games behind the idle Rays. Boston increased its lead to three games in the wild card race.
Baltimore lost for the ninth time in 10 games.
Jason Varitek hit his 157th homer as a Red Sox catcher to tie Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk for that club record.
Adam Jones, Juan Castro and Kevin Millar had solo home runs for Baltimore. Millar’s was his 20th, the third time - and first since he hit 25 with the Red Sox in 2003 - he has reached that mark.
Trailing 3-2 in the sixth, Boston grabbed the lead for good against Olson (8-7). Jason Bay and Jed Lowrie hit consecutive doubles, tying the game. After Bailey walked, Coco Crisp hit an RBI single up the middle. Jacoby Ellsbury reached on an infield hit to load the bases before Pedroia lined reliever Dennis Sarfate’s outside pitch to right, making it 6-3.
“We couldn’t get the third out before Pedroia got the big hit,” Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said. “Obviously he’s having a tremendous season and is an exceptional player, so those guys have a knack for coming up with the big hit in those kinds of situations.”