Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Another strong outing for John Lackey propelled the Red Sox to a 7-4 victory over the Rays Tuesday night. Lackey improved his record to 4-2 behind eight solid innings, scattering six hits with two runs, one walk and five strike outs. Lackey rarely got into much trouble and seemed to be in control throughout the night.
Each team had a run via a sac fly after five and a half innings. The Red Sox bats were quiet early on, but they remained patient and soon got to Erik Bedard. It was a familiar sight for Sox fans who remember Bedard’s tenure in a Boston uniform with his slow, methodical approach. It didn’t faze the Sox though, and Bedard was forced out of the game after giving up only four hits when his pitch count reached 104 in just five innings.
With the Rays starter out of the game, things became interesting for the Red Sox in the sixth inning. Brandon Gomes came into the game and was able to get an out, but also walked two batters (Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes). This brought in reliever Juan Carlos Oviedo, and he was all over the place to put it mildly. He made Rays catcher Ryan Hanigan work. A.J, Pierzynski singled to knock in a run, Will Middlebrooks clocked an RBI double off the wall and Jackie Bradley Jr. brought in a pair of runs with a double of his own. After Dustin Pedroia grounded out, Shane Victorino, who had his best night yet since returning, with a 4-4 effort at the plate, rocked an RBI ground rule double to the right side of the park capping off a monstrous inning for the Sox.
Tampa Bay was able to add a run in the seventh, making it a 6-2 game, but Lackey continued to work. Everything was going in Boston’s favor at that point when David Ortiz, who had really struggled with three strikeouts, was finally able to make contact and drove in Pedroia with a single.
Despite it sounding like everything was in the Red Sox’ favor, there were a couple sour spots. Every batter was able to get at least one hit, except for Xander Bogaerts who left men on base multiple times. He also added another error to his list late in the game leading to a Rays run and leaving their rally hopes open. Edward Mujica was brought on for the ninth, but was only able to gather two outs after giving up two hits and two runs, making it a 7-4 Red Sox lead. Of course Bogaerts’ bad throw didn’t help Mujica’s case. This forced John Farrell to not take any chances and bring in Koji to get the final out on a big strikeout to pick up his sixth save of the season.