Apr 17, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester (31) pitches against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY SportsThe Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox faced off for the rubber game of a three game set at, finally, a more comfortable April temperature in U.S. Cellular Field. The Red Sox managed a 3-1 victory to finish the seven game road trip at 3-4. Boston finished the trip hitting .172 and averaging three runs per game.
Boston entered the game in 12th place in the American League in batting average and 11th in runs. They did not improve on that, but they did get eight strong innings from Jon Lester (2-2) allowing one run on seven hits while striking out nine and walking no one. Another impressive contract drive statement. To place an exclamation point on the evening Koji Uehara returned to get the save and Xander Bogaerts chipped in with his first home run of 2014.
Both teams had their ace left-handers brought out to face each other with Chris Sale taking the ball for Chicago and Lester for Boston. Sale tossed an impressive first five innings, allowing a harmless walk to David Ross in the second and hitting Xander Bogaerts in the fourth inning.
Lester matched Sale by blending a cutter, fastball and curve to not allow a runner for his first five frames. Both left-handers had not allowed a hit after five. Then, came the sixth.
With two outs in the top of the sixth Xander Bogaerts homered to give Boston a short- lived 1-0 lead. In the home half of the sixth with one out Lester’s dream of a second no-hitter vaporized thanks to catcher Tyler Flowers. Apr 17, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts (2) is greeted by designated hitter David Ortiz (34) after hitting a home run against the Chicago White Sox during the sixth inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Flowers singled off the glove of a diving Bogaerts and that was quickly followed by a ground rule double by Leury Garcia and an infield hit by Adam Eaton that eluded Dustin Pedroia. Lester settled down and finished off the White Sox. Game knotted at 1-1 through six.
In the seventh, Adam Dunn led off with a single and two outs later the bad news was Alejandro De Aza poked a double down the right field, but the good news was Adam Dunn and not Usain Bolt was getting the wave home. Daniel Nava to Pedroia to Ross. Dunn dead at home.
Chris Sale was finished after a 127 pitch outing that was a spectacular performance. In his seven inning no decision effort Sale allowed just one hit, Bogaerts home run, while walking three and striking out ten.
In the top of the ninth the Red Sox stupor for the evening finally came to a halt against reliever Ronald Belisario. Mike Napoli managed an infield hit to third and that was quickly followed by a Mike Carp single to left. Up stepped David Ross and in came a run with a double down the right field line. Nava was walked and with one out the bases were loaded for new pitcher Scott Downs.
Lester was done for the evening and in came Uehara in the ninth for a save opportunity. Koji gave up a lone single while striking out one and allowing no walks. Welcome back, Koji!