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Morales Pitches Well in a Pinch, Sox Bats Outscore Cubs 7-4

Franklin Morales (David Banks)

The Boston Red Sox defeated the Chicago Cubs 7-4 on Sunday night at Wrigley Field to move back to .500. Franklin Morales made an emergency start due to Josh Beckett being placed on the DL on Saturday with shoulder inflammation. It was his first start since 2009, when he was with Colorado, and he pitched five great innings, giving up two runs on four hits and striking out nine.

Boston took the early lead against Chicago starter Paul Maholm. Scott Podsednik singled to lead off the game, and Dustin Pedroia doubled him home. Pedroia advanced to third on Kevin Youkilis’ sacrifice fly, and David Ortiz hit a single through the right side in the absence of the shift to make it 2-0.

The Cubs responded in the bottom of the inning with a leadoff double from Reed Johnson and a Starlin Castro RBI triple. Franklin Morales bounced back to strike out Alfonso Soriano and get Jeff Baker to ground out to strand the tying run at third base.

In the third inning, with Darwin Barney at first and two outs, Castro hit a popup to shallow right field. Pedroia backpedaled but had a hard time picking up the ball. Darnell McDonald had an easy play but failed to call it and Pedroia dropped the fly, resulting in Castro reaching second base and Barney scoring all the way from first to tie the game at two runs apiece.

The Sox took the lead right back when David Ortiz took a changeup into the center field bleachers to lead off the fourth, his 16th home run of the season. After grounding into a double play to end the top of the fifth, center fielder Scott Podsednik was replaced in the field by Daniel Nava. The Red Sox later announced that he had suffered a mild groin injury. Podsednik was 1/3 before exiting the game, dropping his batting average to .387.

Morales would leave the game in line for the win after retiring the last seven batters he faced, five of them by way of the K, but Matt Albers came in for the sixth and worked another one of those sneaky BS, W. The run was unearned, however, due to Kevin Youkilis booting an easy grounder to start the inning that allowed Barney to reach. With one out in the inning, Jeff Baker hit a grounder back to the mound that Albers tried to turn two on. Mike Aviles and Dustin Pedroia appeared to run into each other at second base, causing Aviles to drop the ball and allowing Barney to score and tie the game.

Chicago manager Dale Sveum went to the bullpen to start the seventh inning, calling on reliever Shawn Camp to replace starter Paul Maholm. McDonald led off with a double, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a pinch hit single. Exit Camp, enter James Russell. Ryan Kalish, in his first game of the season, singled home McDonald to retake the lead. Will Middlebrooks batted in the pitcher’s spot, and hit a sacrifice fly to plate Saltalamacchia. Catcher Wellington Castillo tried to nail Kalish advancing to second on the throw, but threw the ball into center field, allowing Kalish to move up to third. Daniel Nava dropped down a great bunt to drive in Kalish and increase the Red Sox lead to three runs.

Andrew Miller and Mark Melancon combined to pitch a scoreless seventh, and Boston manager Bobby Valentine went to closer Alfredo Aceves in a non-save situation for the ninth. Tony Campana, Castillo, and Luis Valbuena all singled, and all of a sudden the tying run was at the plate with nobody out. David DeJesus hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Campana, but Aceves stuck out Reed Johnson and induced Darwin Barney to pop out to end the game.

The Red Sox are off on Monday before hosting the Miami Marlins for a three game series. Clay Buchholz (7-2, 5.38) will face fellow no-hitter alumnus Mark Buehrle (5-7, 3.41) on Tuesday night at 7:10.

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