It wasn’t pretty but in the end Jon Lester and a quartet of Boston relievers got the job done defensively while a quartet of offensive minded Red Sox hitters – David Ortiz, Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli and Daniel Nava – each drove in runs to add to Stephen Drew‘s two-run game tying triple to edge the Oakland Athletics 6-5 at Fenway Park on Wednesday afternoon.
The Red Sox had to come back from a deficit after Lester gave up a three-run homer to Chris Young in the top of the fourth inning. Lester, who was not sharp on Wednesday afternoon, looked a bit like the petulant pitcher from 2012 that turned stomachs sour. He scowled at home plate umpire Jerry Layne a number of times when calls didn’t go his way. Predictably, his performance suffered. Lester stuck out five but walked six en route to an early exit after 5 2/3 innings of work. Manager John Farrell has said that Lester keeping his emotions in check has been one of the primary aspects of his success so far this year. Today was big opportunity to learn a lesson; lose your cool and potentially lose the game.
Luckily for Lester the difference this year is that Boston’s offense can break back with runs of their own, this time with three on back-to-back doubles by Ortiz and Napoli, finished off by Drew’s triple that scored Napoli and Middlebrooks.
The Sox took a 6-4 lead into the eighth inning. Koji Uehara surprisingly surrendered a lead off solo homer to Young, his second of the day, but struck out Josh Reddick and Eric Sogard back-to-back and induced Coco Crisp to fly out Jacoby Ellsbury to end the inning.
Andrew Bailey struck out the side to end the game but not before a scare and a controversial call on which the game turned. With two outs former Red Sox shortstop Jed Lowrie, who already had three hits on the day, hooked a two out ball down the right field line just foul. Er, wait a minute. Lowrie reacted to the foul call as a he rounded first base. It was the reaction of player who knew the ball was fair.
Oakland manager Bob Melvin sprang out of the dugout to argue the call while NESN replayed the call from two different angles, both of which looked to support the umpire’s call. While the argument ensued, a live camera zoomed in on the very spot where the ball landed to reveal a ball-sized chunk that had etched a half moon out of the chalk line. And that literally is the way the ball bounces. The call was blown and went against the As. Two pitches later Lowrie Kd, Bailey celebrated and the Red Sox had won a hard fought game and the series.
Lester notched the win to take his record to 4-0 (2.27 ERA) while the As Brett Anderson dropped to 1-3 (5.95 ERA).