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Hugs, Cheers For Departing Youkilis As Sox Defeat Braves

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Kevin Youkilis, Fenway, June 24, 2012 (Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Kevin Youkilis, Fenway, June 24, 2012 (Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (AP) _ Cody Ross hit two homers and drove in five runs, and the Boston Red Sox beat the Atlanta Braves 9-4 Sunday in a game that likely was Kevin Youkilis’ farewell to the Fenway Park fans.

Youkilis, a subject of recent trade rumors, was lifted for a pinch-runner after hitting a triple in the seventh inning. After
the game, manager Bobby Valentine said general manager Ben Cherington told him “there is a situation brewing” before
Youkilis’ at-bat.

Youkilis was greeted with a hug from Nick Punto, who pinch-ran for him, and many of his teammates on the top step of the dugout.

The burley infielder, in his ninth season with the Red Sox, took his helmet off and waved to the crowd, blew a kiss and was urged to come out for a curtain call by his teammates before heading down the steps. He was given a lengthy standing ovation and the fans chanted “Yook.”

The nameplate above Youkilis’ locker was gone in the clubhouse after the Red Sox’s the ninth win in 11 games. Boston completed interleague play with a winning record for the eighth straight season (11-7).

(View a gallery of Youkilis photos)

Jason Heyward continued his torrid June for the Braves, hitting a solo homer among his three hits.

Atlanta, which lost for the ninth time in 13 games, closed interleague play 8-10.

Aaron Cook (1-1), making just his second start with the Red Sox and first since going on the disabled list May 6 after sustaining a cut on his left knee covering home plate, gave up three runs –two earned– six hits and didn’t walk or strike out anyone in five innings.

Braves starter Mike Minor (3-6) gave up three homers and allowed seven runs– four earned– in 4 2-3 innings.

Adrian Gonzalez added a solo homer for Boston, which won six of seven series against NL opponents.

Heyward is hitting .391 this month with five homers and 12 RBIs. Cook filled-in for Clay Buchholz, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with what Valentine called a “gastrointestinal issue.”

The Red Sox jumped ahead with a four-run fourth against Minor.

After breezing through the first three innings allowing just a pair of singles, Minor walked the first two batters in the inning. Ross then homered into the first row of seats above the Green Monster, making it 3-0. One pitch later, Gonzalez sliced a flyball into the Monster seats to make it 4-0.

The Braves capitalized on Cook’s throwing error for a run during a three-run fifth. Eric Hinske had a two-run double into the center field triangle after Heyward and Andrelton Simmons singled. Juan Francisco then bounced back to the mound and Cook had Hinske off the bag, but threw widely past third to allow him to score to make it 4-3. Cook retired the next three batters, finishing his work.

In the fifth, Boston scored three unearned runs off Minor when Will Middlebrooks had a sacrifice fly and Ross followed with a two-run homer completely out of Fenway Park over the Monster, making it 7-3. Simmons had a throwing error on Kelly Shoppach’s grounder to open the inning when he fired the ball into the Red Sox dugout.

Heyward homered off Matt Albers in the sixth.

NOTES: Valentine decided to give recently struggling DH David Ortiz (0 for 11 last three games) a day off with a left-hander starting for Atlanta. “He said he could probably use it,” Valentine said. With Ortiz out, hot rookie Middlebrooks moved to DH and Youkilis was back at third. Youkilis was given a lengthy ovation when he came to plate the first time. … Hinske started just his 20th game this season for Atlanta, and doubled and tripled his first two times up. … Former Atlanta pitcher John Smoltz was on hand working the nationally televised game and spent time pregame chatting with players in the Braves’ clubhouse. … Braves 3B Chipper Jones, who had the day off, is hitting just .189 (7 for
37) since coming off the DL on June 10. … Red Sox pitching coach Bob McClure was back with the team after missing two weeks with a family matter.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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