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In a typical start by Philadelphia ace Cliff Lee, teams that manage two runs count themselves lucky. The Boston Red Sox scored five against the dominating lefty Sunday afternoon, and they didn’t waste them.
Mike Aviles and Jarrod Saltalamacchia both homered for the second straight day, and Josh Beckett held the Phillies to one run over 7.2 innings, giving the Red Sox a 5-1 rubber-match road victory over the Phillies.
Boston has now won eight of its last 10 games. They haven’t lost a series in three weeks.
Aviles led off his second game in a row with a home run, depositing a 1-1 off-speed pitch into the left field bleachers. He added an RBI single in the top of the second, driving in Marlon Byrd with a grounder between third and shortstop. Aviles finished the game 2-for-5, one of just two Red Sox to finish with two hits.
The Red Sox got to Lee again in the third, with Adrian Gonzalez (2-for-4) singling and Will Middlebrooks doubling with one out. That set the stage for Saltalamacchia, who crushed a 2-0 change-up from Lee into the standing area behind the center field seats for a 5-0 Red Sox lead. At this rate, perhaps Saltalamacchia should intentionally get stitches in his ear before every game.
Lee settled down after Saltalamacchia’s home run, retiring the next 11 Red Sox. Despite several long innings early, three 1-2-3 middle innings allowed Lee to pitch a full seven on a season-high 112 pitches. He gave up nine hits and a walk, suffered his second loss of the season and saw his ERA rise from 1.95 to 2.66.
Lee also struck out six, including the side in the first. His curveball proved especially difficult for Red Sox hitters, dropping out of the strike zone at the last possible moment.
Beckett followed up a seven-inning shutout with another excellent performance, holding the Phillies scoreless over the first seven innings. He allowed two on base just once during that stretch: the bottom of the third, when second baseman Freddy Galvis led off with an infield single – one of four by the Phillies – and Lee moved him to third with a one-out double.
Beckett exited the third unscathed, however, getting a grounder to third that couldn’t score Galvis and then a liner to David Ortiz at first to end the inning.
The lineout reflected a strong day in the field for Ortiz, who committed no errors and made several fine defensive plays. He dove to corral a Shane Victorino grounder in the fourth, which would’ve resulted in an out had Beckett covered the bag correctly, and he jumped to snag a Hunter Pence liner one batter later. He also finished two double plays.
Beckett only ran into trouble in the eighth, giving up a one-out double to pinch-hitter Pete Orr. Two batters later, Orr scored from third on a sacrifice fly by left fielder Juan Pierre. Beckett walked his next batter, then Vicente Padilla replaced him.
Padilla walked his first batter, then got third baseman Ty Wiggington to ground out with the bases loaded to end the eighth, pushing Padilla’s impressive streak of stranded inherited runners to 13. Alfredo Aceves set the Phillies down 1-2-3 in an efficient, nine-pitch ninth.
Picking up the win, Beckett evened his record at 4-4. He gave up one run on seven hits and two walks. He struck out five thanks to solid off-speed pitches that, while perhaps not quite as sharp as Lee’s, still kept Phillies hitters very off-balance. He threw nearly 70 percent of his pitches for strikes, and started off 21 of his 30 batters faced with strikes.
Only lead-off hitters gave Beckett any trouble, with five Phillies beginning their innings by getting on base. None of them, however, scored.
Due to a scoreless streak of 14.1 innings, Beckett’s ERA has plummeted from 5.97 all the way to 4.38 in just 10 days. If Beckett continues pitching as he did Sunday, that number will only continue to fall.
Tags: Adrian Gonzalez, Alfredo Aceves, Boston Red Sox, Cliff Lee, David Ortiz, freddy galvis, Hunter Pence, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Josh Beckett, Juan Pierre, Marlon Byrd, Mike Aviles, pete orr, Philadelphia Phillies, Shane Victorino, ty wiggington, Vicente Padilla, Will Middlebrooks