It took three innings longer than it probably should have, but Grady Sizemore capped up a big night with a walk off wall ball would-have-been double in the twelfth, turning what could have been a miserable night into a much-needed 4-3 win instead.
For seven innings, the Red Sox were looking every bit like a fully competent baseball team. Both the Sox and the Reds had exchanged one-run innings in the bottom of the first and top of the second, with Felix Doubront and Homer Bailey alike managing to limit the damage in innings that could have turned into absolute disasters. From there, the Sox took the lead in the bottom of the third thanks to some classic National League "strategy." With men on second and third and one out, the Reds elected to give David Ortiz the intentional walk. Sometimes that move makes sense, but in the bottom of the third, with one of the league's most patient hitters in Mike Napoli up next and Homer Bailey already struggling a bit with command? Not so much. Mike Napoli drew the RBI walk, and Grady Sizemore made his first contribution of the night with a ground ball single.
Now spotted a 3-1 lead, Doubront actually did a reasonable job holding it. His pitch count got a bit out of hand, and he got into a couple of sticky situations. But given what we've seen from him in general this season, holding the Reds to just the one run in 5.1 innings of work has to be considered a success.
He did, however, receive no small help from a defense which was really feeling it for those first seven innings. Will Middlebrooks and Dustin Pedroia were putting on a show in the infield, turning difficult ground balls into big outs in big moments while Shane Victorino kept all of right field under wraps.
But of course we're talking about an extra-innings game, so it didn't last. In the eighth, Junichi Tazawa saw his struggles continue. A walk to Joey Votto was understandable enough, but surrendering a double down the left field line to Brandon Phillips and then an RBI single to Todd Frazier was another story. With the equalizing run just 90 feet away, the Reds needed just a fly ball, and they got that from Ryan Ludwick.
The ninth, too, brought troubles for the Red Sox. A Zack Cozart dribbler to first turned into a single when Koji Uehara inexplicably cut off his attempt to cover first about halfway to the bag. Cozart would reach third with two outs before Uehara produced one of the rarest events in baseball to escape the inning: a Joey Votto infield fly ball.
The Sox could have ended the game there, but the Red Sox did an excellent job of bungling the ninth as well, with Dustin Pedroia running into an out after a one-out single trying to steal second. To make matters worse, Shane Victorino and David Ortiz walked behind him, begging the question what could have been had Pedroia waited patiently. Instead, Mike Napoli produced the third out, sending the game into extra innings.
From there, Andrew Miller carried the Red Sox through the first couple of extra frames, cutting through the Reds with incredible efficiency. Craig Breslow took over in the top of the twelfth, working around a Brandon Phillips single to send it to the bottom half.
There, finally, the Red Sox got a rally going and didn't let it stop. It was a matter of inches. David Ortiz led off the inning by grounding sharply through the shift for a single, then moved to second on a Mike Napoli ground ball up the middle that could well have ended up going for two. The bounces went the way of Boston, however, and so instead of two down they had two on. Up came Grady Sizemore and, for the fourth time at night, he put good solid wood on the baseball. It was the sort of contact that promises the end to this sort of game, and it did not disappoint. While Sizemore didn't leave the park, he planted a line drive firmly off the bottom of the wall, bringing David Ortiz home with ease and bringing the game to its welcome end.