BOSTON (AP) — Will Middlebrooks' reaction running down the first-base line might have summed up how his teammates were feeling when the Boston Red Sox finally got back to .500.
The slumping Middlebrooks pumped his fist a few times after hitting an RBI single with the bases loaded, capping a two-run rally in the eighth inning that sent the Red Sox over the Cincinnati Reds 4-3 Wednesday night for a sweep of the two-game interleague series.
"I just wanted to help the team win and to contribute," Middlebrooks said.
Mired in a 2-for-19 stretch and coming off an 0-for-5 night with a pair of strikeouts, Middlebrooks sent a hard grounder up the middle for the go-ahead run.
"I've been frustrated, but regardless if you're 10-for-10 or 0-for-10 or whatever, you're happy to contribute to a win in any way possible," he said.
David Ortiz and Mike Napoli also drove in runs for the World Series champions, who reached .500 for the first time since the fourth game of the season. They failed in eight previous chances.
"I don't think it was a mental hurdle," Boston manager John Farrell said. "I never heard too many of us mention that we're bumping up against .500 and taking a step back. It was just more of a situation inside games where we had opportunities that we haven't cashed in on, finally we do tonight."
Skip Schumaker hit a two-run homer for Cincinnati, who lost the opener to Boston 4-3 in 12 innings. It was the Reds' 11th one-run loss, most in the majors.
"We play a lot of low scoring, one-run games," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "We're battling and we'll be whole soon, but until then we've got to find a way to create some distance between ourselves and our opponent. It'll come down to making every single play over the course of those last three innings to win the game, and it can't be like that every single day of a baseball season."
Trailing 3-2 in the eighth, the Red Sox scored against two relievers.
"It's tough," Reds left fielder Chris Heisey said. "We felt like we had the game and let it slip away."
Napoli drew a one-out walk from Manny Parra, J.J. Hoover (1-4) walked pinch-hitter Jonny Gomes and A.J. Pierzynski's ground-rule double tied it at 3. Jackie Bradley Jr. was intentionally walked before Middlebrooks had his tiebreaking hit.
Craig Breslow (2-0), who also got the win in Tuesday's game, pitched one hitless inning. Koji Uehara struck out the final three batters for his eighth save.
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