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Tim Wakefield pitched well enough for career win number 200 on Friday night, but the Red Sox couldn’t get their offense clicking against Gavin Floyd and the White Sox in a 3-1 loss. Wakefield pitched seven strong innings, allowing just 3 runs to the potent Chicago lineup, with a knuckleball that danced for better and for worse throughout the night.
The Sox took an early lead with a solo home run from Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the third, his ninth of the season, extending his hitting streak to seven games (during which he is batting .345 with three long balls). The Red Sox have really turned their catching situation around this season, with the position originally seen as a weakness but the offensive showing of Saltalamacchia has solidified the position to the point where there hasn’t been a whisper of Theo Epstein considering dealing for a catcher at the upcoming trade deadline.
In the top of the sixth, the Red Sox finally appeared ready to get to Floyd, but to no avail. Marco Scutaro reached on an infield single and then stole second base, followed by a walk to Jacoby Ellsbury with one out. Looking to extend his hitting streak, Dustin Pedroia only managed to reach via a fielder’s choice, followed by a walk to David Ortiz, loading the bases for Kevin Youkilis, who was called out on strikes to end the inning. The momentum of the game seemed to shift at that point in Chicago’s favor.
The White Sox resorted to major small ball after getting shut down through five innings by Wakefield, with a leadoff first pitch bunt single by Juan Pierre, placed in the perfect spot down the third base line. Veteran Omar Vizquel followed with another first pitch bunt which advanced Pierre to second with just one out. A wild pitch by Wakefield moved the speedy Pierre to third, which ended up costing the Red Sox a run with a sacrifice fly to left by Paul Konerko, tying the game at one.
In the 7th, Wakefield surrendered a leadoff walk to Carlos Quentin who came around to score on a two-run home run by A.J. Pierzynski, giving the White Sox the lead which they would hold on to after perfect relief innings from southpaw Matt Thorton in the 8th and Sergio Santos in the 9th, who earned his 22nd save. In the end though it was Floyd who stunned the Red Sox bats, improving to an impressive 6-0 mark in his career against Boston. He allowed only 3 hits and the one run on the Saltalamacchia home run due to a hanging slider, one of his few mistakes over seven strong innings, walking just two and striking out six.
For the Red Sox, who were without first baseman Adrian Gonzalez due to a stiff neck, the positives from the loss have to center around Wakefield. The knuckleball was baffling the White Sox hitters, retiring the first eight consecutive batters to begin the game and striking out five over his seven innings of work. Wakefield drops to 6-4 on the season and will look to grab his 200th win at Fenway Park against the Cleveland Indians next week.
The Sox only managed three hits, with the top six batters in the lineup combining to go 0-20 against Chicago pitching. This included an 0-4 night for Pedroia, snapping his hitting streak at 25 games. The team will look to snap their two game slide Saturday evening with Jon Lester making his second start since returning from the disabled list, looking for his 11th win. The White Sox will counter with Philip Humber against the Red Sox, who according to manager Terry Francona will have Gonzalez back in the lineup at first base, which should help them end a string of seven consecutive losses to Chicago.