Red Sox-Pirates Live: Jon Lester, Rubby De La Rosa Again Impressive As Sox Win 5-2

Justin Henry,  Pedro CiriacoFinal, Red Sox 5-2: The Pirates put the tying run at the plate in the ninth, but a game-ending double play secured the win for Boston.

Andrew Lambo doubled into the left-center field gap, and Anderson Hernandez hit a one-out single to put runners at first and third. Alex Wilson was able to bear down from there, though, as he got Tony Sanchez to ground into a 6-4-3 twin killing.

The Red Sox got all the runs that they would need in the first inning. Mike Napoli kicked off the scoring with an RBI single in his first at-bat of the spring. The Sox would then push across two more runs in the frame on a Stephen Drew RBI double and a wild pitch by Pirates starter Jeff Locke.

Dustin Pedroia added the rest of Boston’s offense with a two-run single in the fifth inning.

The biggest takeaways from this one are Napoli’s successful debut and the impressive performances by Jon Lester and Rubby De La Rosa.

Napoli, who has been brought along slowly in the wake of being diagnosed with a hip condition, made a nice play in the field for the first out of the ballgame, and he also made a nice pick on a throw in the dirt in the third inning. He finished the game 1-for-2 at the plate.

Lester started the game for Boston, and he looked great — just as he did in his first start on Sunday. The lefty pitched three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and walking one while striking out two.

De La Rosa, who continues to emerge as one of the spring’s most intriguing storylines, pitched the fourth and fifth inning for the Sox. He didn’t allow a run, gave up just one hit and struck out two, while once again showing off the stuff that’s made him such a highly touted pitcher.

The Red Sox will be back in action on Saturday. They’ll kick off their bid for the Mayor’s Cup in a showdown with the Twins at Hammond Stadium. The first pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m., and although the game won’t be televised, NESN.com will have you covered every step of the way.

End 8th, Red Sox 5-2: The Red Sox threatened to increase their lead in the bottom of the eighth, but their bid fell short.

Jonathan Diaz reached on an error by second baseman Oscar Tejeda to kick off the inning. He would advance two batters later when Mike Carp drilled a one-out single into right field. Diaz stumbled rounding second, but he was able to retreat safely, which put runners at first and second.

Brock Holt, who entered the game in the seventh for Pedro Ciriaco, hit a slow groundball to second base. The Pirates were immediately thinking two, but the ball was hit far too softly for the Bucs to spin the double play.

Hunter Strickland escaped any damage by getting Jeremy Hazelbaker to pop out into foul territory along the third-base line. John Farrell’s son, Jeremy, was the one who recorded the putout.

Alex Wilson will come back out in the ninth as the Red Sox look to put away the Pirates for the second straight night.

Mid 8th, Red Sox 5-2: Steven Wright struggled with his control in the eighth, and it allowed the Pirates to cut into the lead.

Wright walked Anderson Hernandez and Tony Sanchez to begin the inning. Mel Rojas then threatened to drop one into left field, but Jeremy Hazelbaker made a snazzy, diving catch for the first out.

Hazelbaker couldn’t duplicate the nifty grab, though. Jerry Sands — who, like Pimentel, was sent to Pittsburgh as part of the Joel Hanrahan deal — lined Wright’s offering to left field. Hazelbaker went into the dive, but he couldn’t come up with the catch, and the bases were loaded up for Jeff Larish.

Larish drilled a single back up the middle and into center field that plated two runs. John Farrell’s son, Jeremy Farrell, then stepped to the plate with runners on first and second. He walked, which loaded the bases again and knocked Wright from the ballgame.

Alex Wilson came on to pitch for Boston, and he avoided any further damage for the Sox. Oscar Tejeda hit a comebacker that Wilson snagged and then fired to first to double-up Farrell.

End 7th, Red Sox 5-0: Stolmy Pimentel, who the Red Sox traded to the Pirates as part of the Joel Hanrahan deal, pitched a scoreless seventh inning.

Pimentel plunked Mauro Gomez after getting Christian Vazquez to ground out, but it was the only baserunner he’d allow. Drew Sutton flew out to left field, and Pimentel struck out Justin Henry to end the inning.

Pimentel was signed by the Red Sox as an international free agent in 2006 at the age of 16. He worked his way up to Double-A Portland before the Sox decided to ship the 23-year-old to the Pittsburgh organization.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 5-0: Steven Wright’s dancing knuckleball takes us into the seventh-inning stretch.

Wright again kept the Pirates’ offense at bay, and the right-hander has looked impressive for the second straight outing. Wright, who pitched two innings and earned a win against the Blue Jays on Monday, got Neil Walker to ground out to second base for the first out.

Wright then really went to work, striking out Brandon Inge and getting Felix Pie to hit a little dribbler back to the mound.

Wright has zero big league experience and figures to start the season at Triple-A Pawtucket, but some more appearances like Friday’s will go a long way toward putting him in the discussion for a roster spot.

The Red Sox made some more defensive substitutions in the inning. Brock Holt, Jeremy Hazelbaker and Drew Sutton entered the game, while Stephen Drew, Daniel Nava and Pedro Ciriaco exited.

End 6th, Red Sox 5-0: Brooks Brown made quick work of the Red Sox in the sixth.

Mike Carp led off the inning by shooting one the other way into the hole between shortstop and third base. It had the makings of a base hit, but Clint Barmes made a nice, backhanded play and a strong throw despite being off balance to record the first out.

Stephen Drew and Daniel Nava then flew out.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 5-0: The Red Sox went from hard-throwing Rubby De La Rosa to knuckleballer Steven Wright in the sixth inning.

Wright, who has been working with Tim Wakefield this spring, scattered a hit in his first inning of work, but he kept the Pirates scoreless.

Darren Ford, who bunted in the first and nearly beat out a slow roller in the third, flew out to right field to begin the inning. Wright then struck out Jose Tabata, before Garrett Jones singled into right field with two outs.

Pedro Alvarez, who connected for 30 bombs in 2012, grounded out to the new first baseman, Mike Carp, to end the inning.

The Red Sox made a number of substitutions before Wright went to work. Justin Henry, Jonathan Diaz, J.C. Linares, Mike Carp and Christian Vazquez are in the game. Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli and Ryan Lavarnway have come out.

Click here to read about Steven Wright’s exchange with Tim Wakefield >>

End 5th, Red Sox 5-0: The Red Sox extended their lead in the fifth.

Pedro Ciriaco reached with one out, and he proceeded to swipe second base. Jacoby Ellsbury then walked to set up first and second for Dustin Pedroia. It quickly became second and third, though, as Phil Irwin — working his second inning on the bump — crossed up catcher Lucas May. The passed ball allowed both Ciriaco and Justin Henry — who pinch ran for Ellsbury — to move up a base.

After the table was set, Pedroia served the dinner. Pedey went down, feasted on a sinker and looped a base hit into right-center field to score two runs.

Shane Victorino grounded into a double play to end the inning.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 3-0: Rubby De La Rosa, who pitched two perfect innings on Sunday and a perfect frame in the fourth, allowed his first hit of the spring. No biggie.

De La Rosa started off the inning by making Brandon Inge’s knees buckle with a curveball. The next batter, Felix Pie (who homered on Thursday), drove a double that fell onto the warning track in left-center field, but De La Rosa battled back to ensure the Pirates stayed off the scoreboard.

De La Rosa got Clint Barmes to pop out to Pedro Ciriaco in foul territory for the second out, and he then struck out Lucas May, who took a big hearty cut but whiffed.

De La Rosa has looked solid again. Obviously, it’s early, but watching him and Allen Webster this spring has to have Red Sox fans really excited about last August’s blockbuster with the Dodgers — if they weren’t already thrilled.

End 4th, Red Sox 3-0: The Pirates turned to a new pitcher in the fourth, and Phil Irwin got the job done.

Irwin first retired Stephen Drew, who struck an RBI double in his first at-bat. Irwin then got Daniel Nava and Ryan Lavarnway on a pair of flyouts. Nava skied his to Felix Pie in left, while Lavarnway’s was hauled in by Jose Tabata in right-center.

Rubby De La Rosa will come on for a second inning of work in the fifth.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 3-0: Rubby De La Rosa is quickly becoming one of the Red Sox’ most intriguing spring training storylines, as he continues to dazzle for Boston.

De La Rosa got Garrett Jones, Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker — all very respectable major leaguers — to hit into three straight groundouts in the top of the fourth.

What’s most intriguing about De La Rosa is the stuff he has shown thus far. Pedro Martinez said recently that De La Rosa has stuff that’s comparable to Roger Clemens’ and Juan Marichal’s. While tossing out those two names is a bold move, Martinez’s point is taken.

De La Rosa features a fastball in the high 90s, which sets up his changeup nicely. I don’t want to get carried away here, but it’s sort of Pedro-esque — although not quite to that extent.

It’ll be interesting to see what the Red Sox have planned for De La Rosa in 2013, but if he keeps up his spring success, it’ll be hard to start with him anywhere other than the big leagues.

Click here to read Pedro’s comments about De La Rosa >>

End 3rd, Red Sox 3-0: Jeff Locke kept the Red Sox’ offense in check for the second straight inning.

Dustin Pedroia started off the inning with a slow roller down to third base. Pedro Alvarez made a nice, bare-handed play, but his throw was in the dirt, and Garrett Jones was unable to pick it out.

Pedroia would quickly be taken off the bases. Shane Victorino slapped a groundball to short. Clint Barmes stepped on the bag and fired over to first for the twin killing.

Mike Napoli, who hit an RBI single in his first at-bat, struck out swinging to end the inning.

Rubby De La Rosa will come on to pitch for Boston.

Mid 3rd, Red Sox 3-0: An inning after allowing his first baserunner of the spring, Jon Lester gave up his first hit of the spring. Again, though, it didn’t amount to much.

Lucas May singled into left field after Lester struck out Clint Barmes for the inning’s first out. May would move up to second as Dustin Pedroia hustled to throw out Darren Ford on a slow roller, but he wouldn’t get beyond there.

Jose Tabata hit a little dribbler back to Lester. The lefty fielded it cleanly and fired to first. The throw was low, but Mike Napoli made a nice play to scoop the ball out of the dirt and end the inning.

That’ll end Lester’s night, but it was another solid performance for the left-hander. He didn’t allow a run, gave up just one hit and walked one while striking out two in three innings of work.

7:52 p.m.: For those watching the game on NESN, you probably noticed that the commentary is a little different. Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo are doing the game alongside the Pirates’ broadcast team.

Orsillo and Pirates play-by-play man Tim Neverett will rotate throughout the evening. Remy and Bob Walk will handle analyst duties.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that there’s some precipitation in the air, although it doesn’t appear to be too threatening.

End 2nd, Red Sox 3-0: Pirates pitcher Jeff Locke settled down nicely in the second inning after a very rocky first.

Locke, a native of North Conway, N.H., retired Mark Hamilton, Pedro Ciriaco and Jacoby Ellsbury in order.

Hamilton led off the inning by grounding out to second base. Ciriaco then made good contact, sending a high flyball to center field. He was the victim of the dimensions, though, and center fielder Darren Ford backtracked to haul it in.

Ellsbury, who was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double in the first inning, grounded out to second base to end the inning.

Mid 2nd, Red Sox 3-0: Jon Lester allowed his first baserunner of the spring in the second inning, but he quickly showed it was no big deal.

Lester walked Neil Walker after getting Pedro Alvarez to ground out to lead off the inning. Lester made sure Walker wouldn’t go anywhere, though, as he proceeded to retire both Brandon Inge and Felix Pie.

Inge popped up to Mike Napoli in foul territory, once again testing Boston’s new first baseman, but it proved to be a can of corn.

End 1st, Red Sox 3-0: First spring game. First RBI.

Mike Napoli enjoyed a rather eventful first play in the field during the top half of the inning. He fielded a bunt and slid into first base for the out. In the home half of the frame, Napoli had a rather eventful at-bat.

Napoli worked the count full before rocketing one off the pitcher, Jeff Locke. The ball ricocheted into shallow left field, scoring Dustin Pedroia, who reached on a walk two batters prior.

Jacoby Ellsbury actually led off the inning with a rope down the left-field line, but he was thrown out at second base while trying to stretch the hit into a double. Pedroia then followed up with a walk, as did Victorino, which put runners at first and second for Napoli.

After Napoli drove in the game’s first run, Stephen Drew ripped a double down the right-field line with runners at first and second. The two-bagger scored Victorino, and sent Napoli from first to third. Napoli would score soon after, though, when a pitch in the dirt rolled to the backstop.

Daniel Nava and Ryan Lavarnway each struck out to end the inning.

Mid 1st, 0-0: Jon Lester was perfect in his first start of the spring on Sunday. He enjoyed more of the same in the first inning.

Lester retired Darren Ford, Jose Tabata and Garrett Jones in order, with the most eventful out being the first of the inning.

Ford dropped a bunt down the first-base line, perhaps in an effort to test Mike Napoli, who is making his spring training debut. Napoli proved he was up to the challenge, though, making the play, and then sliding feet-first to tag the bag and record the out.

The Red Sox probably don’t want to see Napoli, who was diagnosed with a hip condition during the offseason, sliding too often this spring. Nevertheless, he looked fine in doing so, which is another positive sign for the 31-year-old catcher-turned-first baseman.

7:05 p.m.: And we’re off and running at JetBlue Park…

7 p.m.: We’re about five minutes away from game time, which is usually a good time to toss in my extra two cents.

You can bet the Pirates’ coaching staff will be looking for more out of its pitchers today. The Bucs walked everyone who wanted to walk — and even those who didn’t — during these two teams’ Grapefruit League showdown on Thursday. When all was said and done, Pittsburgh walked 15 Boston hitters.

Jeff Locke, Phil Irwin, Stolmy Pimentel (who was sent to Pittsburgh in the Joel Hanrahan deal), Vin Mazzaro, Brook Brown and Hunter Strickland are the guys scheduled to make sure a repeat isn’t in order.

This is the second of five spring training meetings between these two clubs.

So hey, didn’t anyone happen to see that Carl Crawford had another injury setback? He’s reportedly dealing with some nerve irritation in his recovering elbow and could once again miss Opening Day. I weighed in on the topic on Friday, and you can check that out by clicking on the link below. Or don’t. The choice is yours, really.

Click here for an opinion on Carl Crawford’s injury >>

6:47 p.m.: The Pirates’ lineup card is in. Scope it out below.

Pirates
Darren Ford, CF
Jose Tabata, RF
Garrett Jones, 1B
Pedro Alvarez, 3B
Neil Walker, 2B
Brandon Inge, 3B
Felix Pie, LF
Clint Barmes, SS
Lucas May, C

Jeff Locke, P

5 p.m.: It’s official. We’ll get our first glimpse of Mike Napoli on Friday night.

Napoli will bat cleanup and play first base when the Sox host the Pirates at JetBlue Park. It’ll be the 31-year-old’s first game action this spring. Napoli, who was diagnosed with a hip condition during the offseason, has cleared all of the hurdles he needs to clear, and it’s likely he’ll now be inserted into the Boston lineup every other day until Opening Day — the same schedule as most of the players at the Red Sox’ major league camp.

Batting ahead of Napoli will be Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Shane Victorino. It remains to be seen how manager John Farrell will shuffle the lineup when David Ortiz returns to game action, but the skipper has rolled out the aforementioned trio at the top of the order multiple times this spring.

One glaring omission from Friday night’s lineup is third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who left Wednesday’s game after injuring his wrist. Middlebrooks was cleared for baseball activities and took batting practice on Thursday, but manager John Farrell said he wanted to give him an extra day.

Clearly, the Red Sox are taking a cautious approach with Middlebrooks, which is probably the right move. He could be in Boston’s lineup on Saturday, though.

The rest of the Red Sox’ lineup is below.

Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Shane Victorino, RF
Mike Napoli, 1B
Stephen Drew, SS
Daniel Nava, LF
Ryan Lavarnway, C
Mark Hamilton, DH
Pedro Ciriaco, 3B

Jon Lester, P

8 a.m. ET: The Red Sox dominated the Pirates 16-6 on Thursday afternoon. Fortunately for the Bucs, they won’t have to wait long for a shot at redemption.

OK, so we might not remember these back-to-back contests when the games start counting for real in April, but as the calendar turns to March, it’s hard not to get at least a little bit excited about spring training getting into full swing.

The Pirates walked the ballpark on Thursday. No, seriously, they walked everyone in sight, and it resulted in a rather bizarre stat line for the Red Sox. The Sox scored 16 runs, drew 15 walks and banged out 14 hits (all of which were singles). When all was said and done, Boston came away with a 16-6 victory.

John Lackey got the start on Thursday, and he took another step forward. On Friday, the Red Sox will turn to Jon Lester, who was perfect in his first outing of the spring on Sunday. Rubby De La Rosa, Alex Wilson, Steven Wright, Daniel Bard and Oscar Villarreal are also slated to pitch for the Red Sox against the Pirates.

Friday’s action will kick off from JetBlue Park at 7:05 p.m. Be sure to tune in to the action on NESN, but don’t stray too far, as we’ll have additional commentary, analysis and all sorts of other jazz throughout the day on NESN.com.

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