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BOSTON (AP) — Adrian Gonzalez spoiled Kevin Youkilis’ return to Fenway Park, hitting a tiebreaking three-run homer in the eighth inning to lift the Boston Red Sox to a 5-1 win over the Chicago White Sox on Monday night.
Boston traded Youkilis on June 24, sending the three-time All-Star and cash to Chicago for utilityman Brent Lillibridge and a minor league pitcher. Youkilis went 3 for 4 with two doubles in his first game back at his longtime home.
Carl Crawford returned to Boston’s lineup after missing the entire season with left elbow and wrist injuries, going 1 for 3 with a walk.
Crawford and David Ortiz opened the eighth with consecutive walks against Leyson Septimo (0-1). Gonzalez then hit a drive into the seats above the Green Monster for just his seventh homer of the season.
Vicente Padilla (3-0) worked one inning for the win, and Alfredo Aceves finished the game.
Ortiz had a walk and single, giving him 10 straight with at least one hit and a walk to set a club record. Ted Williams held the previous mark, going nine straight in 1950.
Youkilis received a warm welcome when he walked up to the plate before his first at-bat and the familiar chant of “Yooooouk” echoed throughout the 100-year- old Fenway. The burly third baseman took off his helmet, turned and waved to all corners.
He then singled up the middle against Aaron Cook. Adam Dunn followed with a grounder to second and Youkilis kept going toward an uncovered third with a shifted infield. First baseman Gonzalez then fired the ball into left for an error, allowing Youkilis to score.
Crawford singled in the bottom half and scored on Gonzalez’s single to right.
Both starters were solid. Cook allowed five hits in seven innings and is 2-1 with a 1.67 ERA in four starts since coming off the disabled after getting spiked and cutting his left knee covering home plate.
Chicago’s Dylan Axelrod matched his career high with eight strikeouts and yielded seven hits in 6 2-3 innings.
The Red Sox, who took two of three at Tampa Bay over the weekend, opened a seven-game homestand.
Sitting in an interview room Monday, wearing his black White Sox jersey and gray uniform pants, Youkilis smiled before answering a question about what he expected to happen in his first at-bat.
“It’s definitely going to be living a moment before,” he said. “I think my teammates are most excited. I think they’re more excited than I’ll be. People have been really good to me. I’ll probably see a few (No.) 20 jerseys out there.”
When he was dressing by his corner locker in the visiting clubhouse about a half hour before a scheduled interview session in a room above Boston’s clubhouse, a TV screen showed the empty interview room and the words “Kevin Youkilis upcoming interview.” White Sox teammates Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski joked that they should all go to the room to support him.
The 33-year-old Youkilis is wearing the same No. 20 he had with Boston. He played 7 1/2 seasons with the Red Sox and was part of the 2004 and `07 championship teams.
“There’s no regrets. I had a lot of fun and won two World Series,” he said. “I came in my rookie year, won one and won one playing every day. Some guys can’t even say they won one. I was very fortunate to win two.”
His playing time in Boston became limited due to the emergence of rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks.
But Youkilis didn’t want to talk about his relationship with Valentine. In April, the manager questioned Youkilis’ commitment in his weekly television interview, then apologized to him a day later.
“I don’t understand why this is a big rift,” Youkilis said. “I’m just here to play baseball and things will happen. There’s no Bobby V. vs Kevin Youkilis or vice versa. It’s the Chicago White Sox against the Boston Red Sox and just playing baseball.”
Youkilis was a fan favorite during his time in Boston, often drawing loud chants of “Yoooouk” for his hard-nosed play.
Since joining Chicago, Youkilis was hitting .295 with three homers and 15 RBIs in 16 games. He recorded five game-winning RBIs in his first 14 games.
“I think what I’m doing now is trying to have fun and win,” he said. “There’s nothing else to worry about.”
Having a charity in his name in the area, he said he’d like to maintain his ties to the city he had called home for his entire big league career.
“This isn’t the last of Boston,” he said. “I hope to do a lot of good things off the field.”
NOTES: Ortiz looked as if he was limping heading back to the dugout after Gonzalez’s homer. … White Sox LHP John Danks, out with a mild muscle strain in his shoulder, played long toss and was encouraged by the results. “I feel like I’m making progress,” he said before the game. “(Tuesday) we’re going to try doing the same, Wednesday off and Thursday push it back a little farther. Thursday will tell a lot.” He went on the 15-day disabled list in May and figured he would be back by now. … Red Sox CF Jacoby Ellsbury played his fourth straight game since coming off the DL Friday against Tampa Bay. He was sidelined since mid-April with an injured right shoulder.
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