TORONTO - Juan Pierre reached base four times on Thursday night, drove in two runs and figured in the key play of the game in the ninth inning, hustling out his AL-leading 14th infield hit of the season on a play that scored two runs.
After fouling off a 3-2 pitch, just tipping a slider in the dirt from left-hander Marc Rzepczyski, Pierre hit the ball deep behind the first base bag and beat Rzepczyski to first for a single. Two runs scored to give the Sox a 3-1 lead.
The Sox dugout erupted. Pierre knew he would be safe almost from the crack of the bat.
"Yes, once I saw that I had a little lead on him running toward the bag,'' he said. "Got out of the box quick, man. That guy is pretty nasty on the mound. Battled, and it ended up putting the ball where they had to make a great play to get me.''
Sergio Santos picked up his eighth save in the ninth to preserve the 3-1 win.
Pierre, who had a horrendous April at bat, on the bases and in the field, raised his average to .265. The left-handed hitting leadoff man is 16-for-41 against lefties.
"Against the lefty tonight, that was old-school,'' he said. "Wiffle ball in the back yard. All mechanics was out the door. He had a big slider, fastball at 93, sink. So I've just been able to put the ball in play good against lefties. I think over the course of my career I've always hit lefties better than righties. Tonight it just felt good to drive in some runs. I've been leaving them out there pretty much a lot here the last week, so it just felt good.''
Pierre had swung and missed at two pitches before the foul tip that gave him an extra swing.
"Against a guy like that, especially when you get down two strikes, you think battle, fight, fight. Choke up, put it in play somehow. Barely called it a tip, I'm glad the umpire heard it, because usually the umpire is like 'no tip' and you'd be out, but I made a point to tell him I got a little piece of it and I lived to see another pitch and ended up putting that one in play.''