BOSTON (AP) -
is playing so well even his manager is surprised by his success.
Boston's sparkplug was called safe with a hustling double in the fifth inning Saturday night, eluding a tag with a headfirst
, thinking he was ruled out, came out of the
dugout to argue the call.
Pedroia waved him back and made the safe sign. Francona turned around and slowly walked back.
''I didn't know what he was doing,'' Pedroia said after Boston's 8-2 win over the
Chicago White Sox
, managing to stifle a grin, ''but I'm just glad he was watching the game.''
And what a game it was, especially for the scrappy second baseman.
He went 4-for-4 for the second straight night and got plenty of help from a makeshift lineup that still managed 15 hits, including
three each from
Pedroia took over the AL lead with a .327 batting average. And he did it from the cleanup spot, the first time last year's
rookie of the year batted there in the majors.
''This guy right now is on fire,'' Chicago manager
said. ''No matter what you throw there, he's going to get it.''
, who usually hits fourth, was sick and missed the game. So Pedroia moved into the slot held by slugger
before he was traded on July 31.
''I hope Youk's feeling better'' when the
go for a sweep Sunday, Pedroia said. ''I don't really like hitting fourth.''
Pedroia went 4-for-4, scored three times, swiped two bases and walked in Boston's 8-0 win Friday night. He had a double and
three singles again Saturday.
Guillen had seen enough by the time Pedroia came up in the eighth with
on third and two outs. He decided to walk him intentionally and the crowd chanted, ''MVP, MVP'' as the 5-foot-7 Pedroia trotted
to first base.
''I never thought I would walk a jockey,'' Guillen said. ''I get opportunities to walk him to face Big Papi, I will do it.''
On the headfirst slide, second baseman
had the ball in his glove on the ground, but Pedroia raised his left arm over it and touched the base before being tagged.
He'd done that ''a couple other times this year,'' Pedroia said nonchalantly.
He also was in the middle of two double plays and leaped to catch a liner.
won for the fifth time in six games and moved 3 1/2 games ahead of Minnesota in the wild-card race. They remained 4 1/2 back
of AL East-leading Tampa Bay.
The AL Central-leading
have lost three straight but remained a half-game ahead of the Twins, who lost 3-2 at Oakland.
Boston was without
, J.D. Drew and
, all on the disabled list. And
missed his second straight game with flulike symptoms. But Kotsay, obtained from Atlanta on Wednesday, went 3-for-4 with three
, who spent most of the season in the minors, hit his first homer of the season.
''We did a good job,''
said, ''led by our little man.''
Michael Bowden (1-0) left his first major league start after five innings with Boston leading 5-2. He stranded runners in
scoring position in three innings.
''His poise and his mound presence were outstanding,'' Francona said.
(11-11) gave up hits to four of Boston's first six batters - the same number he allowed the
in seven innings in Chicago's 6-3 win on Aug. 8.
''I felt the same as I did the last time against them,'' he said, but ''I was just leaving everything up.''
Ellsbury doubled and took third on Pedroia's single in the first. A ground-rule double by Kotsay drove in one run and another
drove in two more.
in the second to cut it to 3-1 but the
pushed across two runs in the bottom half on Bailey's second career homer, Ellsbury's triple and
's sacrifice fly.
started the third with a triple that bounced off Ellsbury's glove as he leaped high against the center-field wall. He scored
on A.J. Pierzynski's groundout.
Buehrle retired seven straight batters before running into trouble again with one out in the fifth.
Ortiz beat out a grounder up the middle for a single and took third on Pedroia's double. Then Kotsay lined a double to right
to make it 7-2.
But Pedroia was the unassuming star.
''You go through times in the year where you're not very good and then you go through times when you are good,'' he said.
''The last couple of days I got on base every time, so it's just one of those things.''
Notes: The last
player with four or more hits in consecutive games was
on June 8 and 10, 1989. ''Oh really?'' Pedroia said, ''Right on.'' ... Pierzynski broke an 0-for-14 slump with a single in
the fifth. ... Crede's triple was his first since Sept. 26, 2003, at Kansas City. ... Bowden is the third starter to make
his major league debut with the
this season, following