TORONTO -- It should come as absolutely no surprise that when the Red Sox most needed a spark, Dustin Pedroia was the one to provide it.
Pedroia is the team's de-facto leader. In past seasons, he's been the one to call out the team when its play doesn't match expectations, as he did in each of the last two Aprils.
But Monday night, Pedroia let his bat do the talking for him.
He smacked a solo homer in the sixth inning off Toronto starter Henderson Alvarez to give the Sox their first run of the night. Then, with the team down a run and three outs away from losing its fourth straight to open the season, Pedroia kick-started the rally, doubling to left to open the ninth off closer Sergio Santos.
Before long, Pedroia took third on a passed ball, then scored on a sacrifice fly by Adrian Gonzalez to tie the game. The Sox then added two more runs to seal their first win, 4-2.
"Hopefully, it sparked us," said Pedroia. "I was just trying to put good at-bats together. This early in the season, everyone's got nerves going and it's hard to settle down and find your rhythm. I was just trying to have good at-bats."
"I don't have enough words to talk about Pedroia," said manager Bobby Valentine. "I came here at 12 o'clock and figured that no one would be here. He was already here pacing. He said we had to get the monkey off our back and let's go."
Hours later, Pedroia led by example.
He hammered a high slider from Alvarez to left-center for his first homer of the season, then smacked a fastball up from Santos into the left field corner, legging out the rally-setting double in the ninth.
"He's just a great player," marveled Valentine.
"We're going to come out every day and play hard and try to win," said Pedroia. "We had a couple of tough ones in Detroit. But we're going to bounce back and play as hard as we can every single night.
"We've had some tough times here at the end of last year and the first couple of games, so you just have to stay with it and grind it out. There's a 162 games and if you stay with it and think positively, we're going to be alright."