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Red Sox Shut Down Orioles to Remain Atop the AL East

Baltimore Orioles' Adam Jones (10) is caught stealing second on a tag by Boston Red Sox's Dustin Pedroia, center, in the fourth inning of a baseball game in Boston, Saturday, July 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Many of us were likely nervous when John Lackey took the mound, given his horrible performances lately. Fortunately, those nerves were unfounded. Lackey went 6.2 scoreless innings of very good baseball, and was backed up by an even better bullpen. Boston got just one big inning themselves against the O’s pitching, but that was all they needed against the AL East’s perennial whipping boys.

Boston had a great chance to get on top with the bases loaded with one out in the 1st. Jacoby Ellsbury couldn’t round 3rd because Kevin Youkilis hit a soft single to center, and David Ortiz grounded right into the double play. Lackey allowed the lead-off batters to reach in the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th, but did manage to record six straight outs in the 2nd and 3rd. Even in the 4th, the runner was caught stealing, a rarity for Boston pitching/catching.

In the 5th, Ellsbury tripled with one out, but tried to run home and got himself out in a rundown after a soft grounder to the pitcher. If nothing else, he gave Dustin Pedroia time to move into scoring position at second. After two cycles of alternating intentional walks (Adrian Gonzalez and Ortiz) and RBI doubles (Youkilis and Josh Reddick) later, Boston quickly had a 3-0 lead.

But perhaps the most contentious moment of the game came in the 7th. With two outs and nobody on, Derrek Lee was hit in the leg by Lackey, resulting in warnings being handed out to both teams. Lackey followed that up by striking out Mark Reynolds, but on a wild pitch that sailed deep towards the back-left backstop, allowing Reynolds to reach and knocking Lackey out of the game in favor of Daniel Bard.

After Bard got out of the tying-run-at-the-plate jam in just two pitches, Boston tacked on another run in the bottom of the frame on two doubles. But the new non-save situation didn’t stop Jonathan Papelbon from coming out to get a 1-2-3 9th. In a way, I’m quite relieved that Bobby Jenks didn’t come into the game after warming up following the 4th run.

Sox Stud of the Game: John Lackey

In 6.2 innings, Lackey gave up just three hits, no walks and two hit batsmen. Now his ERA for the season is a super-low 6.84.

Sox Dud of the Game: Slots 7-9

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, J.D. Drew and Marco Scutaro went 0/4 each, with Drew striking out twice. Salty was also the one who ended that rally in the 5th.

Terry’s Take

“He threw a bunch of strikes… he didn’t walk anybody… he kept it [pitch count] down… he pitched effectively.” – Terry Francona on John Lackey.

Game Notes:

W: John Lackey (6-8)
L: Alfredo Simon (1-2)

  • When Adam Jones was caught stealing in the 4th, it was the first time in seven attempts this season that he has been caught stealing.
  • Boston got their eighth shutout of the year.
  • Daniel Bard has now gone 18.1 scoreless innings, the longest active scoreless streak by an AL reliever.
  • While we’re on the subject, the last time Bard gave up a run was May 23 against Cleveland.
  • Ellsbury was just a home run shy of hitting for the natural cycle.

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