Boston rode the crafty pitching of John Lackey and the home runs of Jonny Gomes and Mike Carp Saturday to a 5-4 win over the Baltimore Orioles. The win snapped a two-game losing streak for Boston and halted a challenge by the Orioles to the Red Sox A.L. East lead. But not before the Red Sox survived a tight-rope walking act by closer Andrew Bailey in the bottom of the 9th that tightened up Boston’s 5-2 lead and made it a 5-4 game.
Boston pushed back against Thursday and Friday wins by the Birds with the Saturday win to rebuild a 2.5 game lead over Baltimore in the A.L. East. Lackey settled in after a shaky first to finish the game with a pitching line of IP 7 R 2 ER 2 H 7 BB 1 K 4, with 101 pitches. He improved to 4-5 on the year and turned in his fourth straight quality start. Koji Uehara was golden out of the bullpen, striking out the Baltimore side in the bottom of the 8th to set up Bailey for the save. Boston’s closer gave up a leadoff 9th inning single to Adam Jones, struck out A.L. home run leader Chris Davis, then gave up a screaming home run to Matt Wieters to right field to close the gap to 5-4. Bailey then surrendered a single to J.J. Hardy with one out and benefitted from a purely stupid mistake by Baltimore pinch runner Alexi Casilla. With one gone in the ninth and Casilla perched on first base, Ryan Flaherty hit a routine fly ball to right fielder Shane Victorino for out number two. Casilla apparently thought there were two outs on the play and was off to the races, making for an easy picking double play when Victorino lobbed a casual throw back to Mike Carp at first to close out the Orioles threat. Bailey miraculously picked up his 8th save in 10 attempts.
Baltimore took an early first inning league, reaching Lackey for a pair of runs before the Sox starter could record an out. Nate McLouth led off with a single of Lackey’s leg, Manny Machado followed with his league-leading 31st double of the year to score McClouth, and following another single by Nick Markakis, Adam Jones punched a single to plate Macchado.
Boston wasted a chance to climb right back into it early in the top of the second. David Ortiz hammered a fly off the deep center field wall and stood up going to third for a stand up triple, his second of the season and only time since 2006 he has hit two triples in one year. Mike Carp worked Garcia for a walk but both were stranded when Garcia got Jonny Gomes on a foul pop out, Saltalamchia on a strike out, and Stephen Drew on a pop out to short stop. The Red Sox again squandered a scoring possibility in the top of the third. Jose Iglesias, getting a start at 3rd base legged out an infield single to start the frame, but was wiped out on a double-play ground ball of the bat of Ellsbury and a strike out by Victorino to frustrate the Red Sox offense.
Boston finally broke into the scoring column in the top of the fourth. Pedroia led off with a bloop single to center, and rode the cape of Mike Carp’s scorching home run to right field to knot the score at 2-2. Gomes followed with a sharp single and managed to score from first when Stephen Drew drove a double down the right field line and raced to third on the throw at home trying to erase Gomes for a 3-2 Boston lead.
The Red Sox stretched their lead by a run in the top of the fifth. Ellsbury started the inning with a single, stole his 31st base of the year to move into scoring position, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Victorino, and scored on Pedroia’s fielder’s choice ground out to short to make it 4-2 Boston.
Lackey worked his way out of a testy fifth inning without damage. Teagarden led off with a single and advanced to third on what appeared to be a possible double play grounder to Pedroia at second. But Boston’s second baseman committed a rare fielding error off the bat of McLouth that placed Orioles at 1st and 3rd with no outs. Saltalamachia threw McLouth out trying to steal second, then got Machado out on a grounder back to the box and closed the inning with a fly out by Nick Markakis to Gomes in left to end the threat. Pedroia’s error was his first fielding miscue dating back to August 29th of last season and marked his 1st boo-boo of the 2013 season.
Boston added its 5th run of the game in the top of the 5th when Jonny Gomes tagged Garcia for his fourth round-tripper of the season, chasing the Baltimore starter from the game and dropping his record to 3-4 on the season.
Saturday’s win over the Orioles improved Boston’s division leading record to 42-28 on the year, improved the Red Sox road record to 21-14, and improved the club to 18-12 against tough A.L. East foes.
Lefty Jon Lester at 6-3 takes the hill for Boston Sunday to close out the series. Lester is looking to break out a funk that had seen him lose three and get two no decisions in his last five starts. He is scheduled to face Miguel Gonzalez at 4-2, but there could be a pitching change for the Orioles as their scheduled starter is expecting the birth of a child at any moment over the weekend.
Boston hopes to take full advantage of a rare June off-day Monday in the middle of a meat-grinder of a schedule this month.
With two extra-inning games in the past week that exhausted the bullpen, and with lingering collar bone issues hampering Clay Buchholz, the Red Sox will shuffle their rotation when they return to Fenway Tuesday for a day-night double header against the Tampa Bay Rays. Buchholz will be scratched and Felix Doubront will have his start pushed up a day to pitch one of the games. Farrell has indicated either Ruby DeLaRosa of Alfredo Aceves will pitch the other half of the double dip. Aceves has turned in a yeoman’s log at 3-1 as a spot starter/long reliever this year despite twice being sent down then called back up from Pawtucket.
First baseman Mike Napoli has been sent back to Boston ahead of the team’s return home for a medical evaluation. He experienced illness Thursday and was missing from the Red Sox line up Friday night as well.
In other roster moves the Red Sox dispatched reliever Alex Wilson back to Pawtucket and promoted infield Xander Bogaerts from Double-A to Triple-A this week. Bogaerts, who like Iglesias had a red hot spring camp with the parent club, had a line of .311/.407.502 in 219 at bats at Portland before the promotion.
Boston will receive a player to be named later following the trade of utility infielder Pedro Ciriaco to the San Diego Padres. The Red Sox had designated Ciriaco for assignment earlier this week with a crowded infield of Iglesias, Drew, Middlebrooks and Pedroia.
- Red Sox-Orioles Live: O’s Get to John Lackey for Two Early Runs, Lead 2-0 in Second Inning (nesn.com)
- Daniel Nava Sits, Jonny Gomes Back in Lineup as Red Sox Look to Stop Skid Against Orioles (nesn.com)