DURHAM, N.C. -- The first season in the Boston Red Sox organization has been rather ordinary in second baseman Brock Holt's view. He might be making up for that in the Governors' Cup Finals.
Holt delivered the winning hit and preserved the lead with his glove in Triple-A Pawtucket's 2-1 victory over Durham in Tuesday night's opener of the best-of-5 Championship Series.
"I felt like I underachieved the whole year," Holt said. "It's good to come out in the Finals and maybe I can do something like this."
So what was better in Game 1, the clutch hit or the defense?
"The win was the best part," Holt said. "It was a good start. We're here. We're in the Finals. We got one."
Even then, there was tension at Durham Bulls Athletic Park when the Bulls loaded the bases with one out in the ninth against Anthony Carter. But Shelley Duncan fouled out and Brandon Guyer's followed with a flyout to end the game.
"Just have to keep calm and trust the guys behind me," Carter said. "Keep going after hitters. Don't let the moment overtake me."
Bulls starter and second-ranked Rays prospect Jake Odorizzi had his second consecutive postseason outing with seven shutout innings. He gave up four hits and a walk while striking out seven. He fanned the last four batters he faced.
The first two Pawtucket batters in the eighth reached against reliever Jeff Beliveau with Justin Henry slapping a single and Heiker Meneses hit by a pitch -- both on 1-2 counts. The runners moved up on Jonathan Diaz's sacrifice bunt before Holt sliced a 2-2 pitch off the glove of diving second baseman Mike Fontenot to drive in both runners.
"Odorizzi is good, but we don't feel like we're ever out of it," Holt said. "I was able to get the big hit. [Fontenot] almost made a great play there."
In the bottom of the inning, Holt's diving stop of Fontenot's one-out grounder on the outfield grass with two runners on base saved the lead.
"Somehow," Holt said. "That's kind of a feel play. You just get up and turn and make the play."
It was quite a stretch for Holt, who also robbed Durham's first two batters of singles in the seventh.
"That guy was their hero," Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo said. "That guy made, like, three big plays."
Still the Red Sox needed Henry, the center fielder, to make a two-out diving catch of Jason Bourgeois' drive to end the seventh with two runners on board.
Pawtucket starter and Boston's No. 6 prospect Anthony Ranaudo never ran into trouble after the second inning. He retired the last seven batters he faced in a six-inning stint.
Durham scored when Fontenot led off the second with a double, moved to third on Kevin Kiermaier's sacrifice bunt and scored on Jesus Flores' sacrifice fly to left field.
By the end, the Bulls stranded 13 runners -- seven of them in the last three innings.
"We had a couple of opportunities and it just wasn't working out for us," Kiermaier said. "Jake pitched his butt off for us. That's the way it happens sometimes. We needed that big hit and didn't capitalize on it."
Montoyo said: "They made the big pitch when they had to. Nail-biters, you have to make the plays, the big pitches."
The Bulls scratched second baseman Ryan Roberts from the lineup after he suffered an injury during batting practice. He went on the disabled list and Fontenot moved into the lineup. Middle infielder Shawn O'Malley, who spent the season with Double-A Montgomery but had been with the Bulls during the postseason, was activated and pinch-ran in the eighth.
Pawtucket's Steven Wright and Durham's J.D. Martin -- the IL Pitcher of the Year -- are slated to start Wednesday night's Game 2. The rest of the series will be contested in Pawtucket, R.I., beginning Friday.