Nick Green directed Jeff Bennett's first pitch of the ninth inning around Pesky's Pole to give the Red Sox a 6-5 win over the Braves, whose frustrations had reached a boiling point long before a former teammate sent them back to Atlanta with the sour taste of a walk-off loss.
"It takes skill to curl it around that pole, especially as a right-hander," Chipper Jones said. "Nick and I worked on that this offseason."
While at least providing some sarcastic humor in response to the decisive shot delivered by one of his offseason hitting partners, Jones certainly had little reason to be happy about the way the Braves concluded a nine-game road trip that included just three victories.
The Red Sox erased an early two-run deficit with three unearned runs in the first inning, benefitted from a botched pop fly in the fourth inning and then found themselves regaining the lead when J.D. Drew's seventh-inning at-bat was extended by a call that allowed him to direct Eric O'Flaherty's 1-2 slider off the left-field wall for an RBI single.
After Garret Anderson provided a game-tying eighth-inning single, the Braves found themselves with hope until the point that Green directed Bennett's first-pitch fastball around the historic right-field foul pole.
"I didn't realize what was going on," Green said. "I didn't even comprehend the fact that it was a walk-off. I realized it when I hit second base and everyone was standing at home plate -- then I realized what was going on."
This was Green's second career walk-off homer. His first occurred on July 2, 2004, when he delivered the Braves to a 6-3 win over the Red Sox with a three-run 12th-inning shot at Turner Field.
"I hit that one better," Green said. "It's fun anytime you can do something good for the team, especially when we needed it at that point. Nobody really wanted to play in that rain. We wanted to finish it as soon as we could."
During his one season with the Braves, the suburban Atlanta native delivered each of his three home runs in clutch situations. His first career homer broke a 2-2 seventh-inning tie against the Expos. One day later, he delivered a game-tying ninth-inning homer that was followed by Drew's walk-off shot.
While Green delivered the deadly blow, Drew, who also experienced his lone season with the Braves in 2004, delivered the most agitating one. With the game tied, one out and a runner at second base, O'Flaherty seemingly minimized the threat with a strikeout.
But after home-plate umpire Bill Hohn ruled O'Flaherty's 0-2 fastball to be low and inside, Drew directed the next pitch off the Green Monster for a go-ahead RBI single. Moments later, O'Flaherty, Jones and Braves manager Bobby Cox were all ejected while directing their frustrations toward Hohn.
"They're going to miss a few calls," O'Flaherty said. "I've got to do my job by bouncing back with that next pitch. But it's tough to do your job when somebody takes something away from you."
While the Braves could point the seventh-inning blame elsewhere, they only had themselves to blame for the first four runs they surrendered. After a Brian McCann two-run single off Tim Wakefield gave them an early lead, they saw the Red Sox tally three unearned first-inning runs against Jurrjens.
Jurrjens, who had seen the Braves support him with just one run during the previous 15 innings that he'd pitched, slipped in the wet grass and misjudged the speed of Kevin Youkilis' one-out comebacker. Two batters later, following a Jason Bay sacrifice fly that could have ended the inning, David Ortiz drilled a two-run homer over the Green Monster.
Ortiz once again benefited from a defensive miscue when he began the fourth inning with a pop fly that was affected by a strong wind before landing in the infield dirt between Yunel Escobar and Jones.
Cox said that both players were to blame for not calling for the ball, and Jones said that in hindsight, he wished he would have been more assertive as soon as he realized that Escobar wasn't going to make the play.
"I just assumed that he was going to take it," Jones said. "In hindsight, I probably would have taken more charge had he not had the reputation for calling everybody off in normal situations."