First things first: Thank you, Jose Contreras. Because if you hadn’t booted that bases-loaded dribbler that Ortiz unceremoniously corked off with two outs in the bottom of the third, we wouldn’t have snagged six unearned runs and we might have been staring at our second loss in a row, and our third in four games. Clay didn’t have it last night, giving up seven earned runs in just 4.2 innings, but Contreras’ miscue gave us all the momentum we needed to snag the W. So, again, thank you, Mr. Contreras. Your smoked meat gift basket is in the mail.

Snarking aside, there are a number of good things we can take credit for from last night’s win. Like some nice work from the bullpen, giving up only one earned run through half the game. And 3-for-4 nights from both Pedroia and–god help us–A-Gon, from whom we’ve been conditioned to accept any sort of offense as gravy. Not to mention a truly mammoth home run from Mikey Lowell that landed somewhere around Davis Square.

This is the time of the season where distractions set in. There’s always someone following you (we picked up a half-game on the idle Yanks and Rangers while the Rays kept pace). Rumors abound (Billy Wagner may or may not be coming to the Sox today; though most sources say it ain’t happening). And you never know when Julian Tavarez might show up dazed and pantsless in the clubhouse post-game. Through it all, you’ve got to keep focused on winning games. With the Yanks and Rangers set to knock each other around this week, a sweep of Chicago could deepen our Wild Card lead or, god forbid, push us closer to the seemingly unattainable division title. Tonight’s game against the newly-returned, 10.38-ERA-totin’ Freddy Garcia seems an excellent place to continue toward this goal.

Lastly, for those of you who actually believe that Matsuzaka is working toward a return and not stashed in one of John Henry’s many warehouses, frozen in a carbonite block, well, this article’s for you.