Final, Red Sox 3-1: Koji Uehara didn’t skip a beat. Uehara closed things out in the ninth inning to give the Red Sox a 3-1 victory in Thursday’s rubber match.
Jon Lester and Chris Sale both were excellent in an intriguing matchup featuring two of baseball’s best left-handers. The Red Sox pushed across two runs in the ninth inning, though, and Boston will return home Friday on the heels of two straight wins.
Lester gave up one run on seven hits over eight brilliant innings. He struck out nine, didn’t walk anyone and threw 112 pitches (75 strikes). Lester didn’t allow a baserunner until the sixth inning, and he came up with a big strikeout in the eighth inning to cut off Chicago’s first-and-third threat.
Sale gave up just one run on one hit — a solo homer from Xander Bogaerts in the sixth inning — over seven innings. He struck out 10, walked three and threw 127 pitches (77 strikes).
David Ross delivered the big hit for Boston in the ninth inning. Ross sliced an RBI double inside the the first base line after Mike Napoli and Mike Carp singled. Jonathan Herrera, who pinch hit for Ryan Roberts, extended Boston’s lead with a bunt up the first base line that plated Grady Sizemore, who pinch ran for Carp, from third base.
The Red Sox will open up a seven-game homestand Friday, and they’ll now do so in a good place after scratching and clawing their way to back-to-back wins in Chicago.
Mid 9th, Red Sox 3-1: The Red Sox came through in the clutch.
Mike Napoli got things going in the ninth inning with a softly hit ground ball to third base. Marcus Semien charged it, but the ball hit the heel of his glove and Napoli reached with an infield single.
John Farrell called upon Mike Carp to pinch hit for Jonny Gomes with right-hander Ronald Belisario on the mound. Carp delivered a line drive single into left field.
David Ross produced the big hit for Boston. He sliced an RBI double inside the third base line to give the Red Sox a 2-1 lead.
Scott Downs took over on the mound, at which point Farrell again turned to his bench. Jonathan Herrera pinch hit for Ryan Roberts and Grady Sizemore pinch ran for Carp at third base. It was an interesting pair of decisions — Sizemore seems like a better pinch hit option — but the moves worked out perfectly, as Herrera dropped a bunt up the first base line that scored Sizemore from third base.
Koji Uehara, who hasn’t pitched since April 9 because of shoulder tightness, will look to close this one out.
End 8th, 1-1: Jon Lester pumped his fist while walking off the mound at the conclusion of the eighth inning.
Tyler Flowers singled to lead off the bottom of the eighth. Leury Garcia, who actually pitched in Wednesday’s 14-inning affair, then dropped down a sacrifice bunt to advance Flowers to second.
Flowers took third base two batters later. Marcus Semien hit a comebacker that deflected off Lester’s glove and over toward third base, resulting in a two-out, infield single.
Lester escaped the jam and capped another strong start by striking out Dayan Viciedo with a 2-2 fastball up and out of the zone.
Mid 8th, 1-1: Dustin Pedroia has made some solid contact but has nothing to show for it.
Pedroia followed Jackie Bradley Jr.’s leadoff walk with a hot shot to first base. Paul Konerko scooped it and fired to second base to kick off a key, 3-6-3 double play.
Xander Bogaerts struck out against Ronald Belisario, who took over after Chris Sale pitched the first seven innings.
Sale gave up just one run on one hit over seven innings. He struck out 10, walked three, hit a batter and threw 127 pitches (77 strikes).
End 7th, 1-1: The Red Sox can be thankful Adam Dunn was the man stationed at first base when Alejandro De Aza hooked a line drive into the right field corner in the seventh inning.
Dunn beat the shift and led off the seventh inning with a single into right field. Jon Lester then retired Paul Konerko and Alexei Ramirez on a couple of fly balls to Daniel Nava.
De Aza stayed back and lined a 1-2 curveball from Lester down into the corner. Dunn tried to score all the way from first base, but he’s, well, slow as molasses.
Nava tossed a relay throw to Dustin Pedroia, who fired a two-hopper to catcher David Ross to nail Dunn and keep the game tied.
Mid 7th, 1-1: Chris Sale really reared back on his 127th and final pitch of the evening.
The Red Sox threatened against Sale in the seventh inning. Mike Napoli and David Ross worked walks against the tiring left-hander.
Sale managed to escape the frame with the game still tied, though. Daniel Nava flied out to Dayan Viciedo just inside the right field line, and Ryan Roberts struck out swinging to end the inning.
Sale reached back and dialed it up to 94 mph to strike out Roberts on the eighth pitch of the at-bat.
End 6th, 1-1: The White Sox — like the Red Sox — collected their first hit and first run in the sixth inning.
Tyler Flowers broke up Jon Lester’s no-hitter with a ground ball into the hole. Xander Bogaerts dived on the outfield grass in an attempt to knock it down, but Flowers’ well-placed single gave Chicago its first hit of the contest.
The White Sox weren’t done, as Leury Garcia and Adam Eaton made it three straight hits off Lester. Garcia blasted a fly ball over Daniel Nava’s head that one-hopped over the fence for a ground rule double. Eaton drove in Chicago’s first run with an infield single to the right side in which he just beat Lester to the bag.
Lester, to his credit, rebounded after things began spiraling out of control. He struck out Marcus Semien looking with an 0-2 fastball on the outside corner. Dayan Viciedo flied out to end the inning.
Lester has throw 83 pitches through six innings. He has seven strikeouts.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 1-0: Xander Bogaerts picked a good time to drill his first home run of the season.
Bogaerts crushed a 1-0 fastball into the left field seats with two outs in the sixth inning. It was the first hit for either team, as Chris Sale and Jon Lester have been lights out to this point.
Sale picked up his ninth strikeout of the game in the sixth inning. Jackie Bradley Jr. went down looking.
Chris Sale has thrown 102 pitches through six innings, so the Red Sox have done a nice job of making the left-hander work despite scoring just one run.
Jon Lester has been perfect through five innings of work.
End 5th, 0-0: If you enjoy watching good pitching, this game is for you. Jon Lester and Chris Sale are putting on a clinic.
Lester tossed another scoreless inning in the fifth. He has yet to allowed a baserunner while throwing just 67 pitches so far.
Sale has issued a walk and hit a batter, but he hasn’t surrendered a hit. His pitch count sits at 82.
David Ross made a nice grab in foul territory in the fifth inning. Paul Konerko hit a popup toward the Red Sox’s dugout, and the veteran catcher ranged over to make a running catch.
Mid 5th, 0-0: Chris Sale struck out two more in the fifth inning, giving him a season-high eight strikeouts for the game.
David Ross and Daniel Nava both went down swinging at changeups in the fifth inning.
Ryan Roberts ended the frame with a lazy fly ball to shallow left field.
End 4th, 0-0: Neither pitcher has allowed a hit through four innings.
Jon Lester took care of Adam Eaton, Marcus Semien and Dayan Viciedo in the fourth.
Semien ripped a line drive to third base, but Ryan Roberts made a nifty backhanded pick before firing across the diamond.
Mid 4th, 0-0: Xander Bogaerts is becoming a baseball magnet.
Bogaerts, who was hit twice in Wednesday’s 14-inning win, got plunked by Chris Sale to lead off the fourth inning.
The Red Sox once again couldn’t build anything against Sale, though, and the left-hander now has completed four no-hit innings.
David Ortiz and Jonny Gomes struck out in the fourth. Mike Napoli, who struck out in his first at-bat, flied out to deep left-center field.
The ball is carrying much better in this game than the first two games of the series, but neither pitcher has allowed much contact.
End 3rd, 0-0: Jon Lester and Chris Sale are dealing.
Lester struck out the side in the third inning, and both pitchers are pounding the strike zone with great effectiveness.
Alejandro De Aza and Leury Garcia went down looking in the third inning. Tyler Flowers struck out swinging.
Lester pulled the string with a curveball to fool Flowers.
Mid 3rd, 0-0: Chris Sale was very sharp in the third inning. He struck out two, giving him four K’s through three innings.
Ryan Roberts and Jackie Bradley Jr. went down swinging in the third inning. Sale went to the fastball to get both guys hacking.
Dustin Pedroia grounded to third base to end the inning.
End 2nd, 0-0: Jon Lester has retired the first six hitters he has faced.
Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko and Alexei Ramirez went down in order against Lester. Konerko, who entered Wednesday’s game as a pinch hitter, struck out swinging.
Ramirez ended the inning with a soft line drive to short. Xander Bogaerts charged in and dived to make the play.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: David Ross worked a two-out walk against Chris Sale before the big lefty ended the inning.
Mike Napoli saw seven pitches in his first at-bat of the game. He struck out swinging, but he didn’t show any ill effects of his finger injury. It would be surprising if Napoli isn’t feeling some pain, though.
Jonny Gomes and Daniel Nava sandwiched Ross’ free pass with a couple of balls on the ground.
End 1st, 0-0: Jon Lester breezed through the first inning.
Adam Eaton, who robbed David Ortiz of a solo homer in the top of the first inning, led off with a ground ball back to Lester. The lefty handled it and underhand flipped to first base for the out.
Marcus Semien grounded to short and Dayan Viciedo popped out to first. Mike Napoli didn’t appear to have any problems with his injured finger during his first inning of defensive work.
Mid 1st, 0-0: All David Ortiz could do was applaud the effort.
Ortiz smoked a ball toward the fence in left-center field with two outs in the first inning. Adam Eaton raced back, leaped up, and robbed Ortiz of a home run. The Red Sox slugger gave the White Sox center fielder his due by applauding the effort between first and second base.
Eaton’s robbery capped a scoreless inning for Chris Sale. Dustin Pedroia grounded to third base, and Sale blew away Xander Bogaerts with a 94 mph fastball for his first strikeout of the game.
8:11 p.m.: Chris Sale toes the rubber for Chicago. We’re underway.
6:38 p.m.: Koji Uehara will be available for Thursday’s series finale, according to manager John Farrell.
That’s obviously good news for Boston, especially with Edward Mujica — Koji’s fill-in — blowing a save in the 11th inning of Wednesday’s win. Uehara hasn’t pitched since April 9 because of shoulder tightness.
Will Middlebrooks, who currently is on the disabled list with a calf strain, has been sent back to Boston with the flu, according to Farrell.
Shane Victorino, who hasn’t played this season because of a hamstring strain, is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday.
6:05 p.m.: Mike Napoli will return to the Red Sox’s starting lineup.
Napoli, who dislocated his finger in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s loss while sliding into second base, sat out Wednesday’s game and was listed as day to day. He’ll return Thursday, though, and that should provide a boost to an offense that has struggled to post runs.
Dustin Pedroia, who returned to the starting lineup Wednesday after dealing with a sore wrist, will remain in the leadoff spot. He reached base four times in Wednesday’s win, so perhaps the All-Star second baseman is on the verge of breaking out at the dish.
Thursday’s complete lineups are below.
Boston Red Sox (6-9)
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Jonny Gomes, LF
David Ross, C
Daniel Nava, RF
Ryan Roberts, 3B
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Jon Lester, LHP (1-2, 2.57 ERA)
Chicago White Sox (8-7)
Adam Eaton, CF
Marcus Semien, 3B
Dayan Viciedo, RF
Adam Dunn, DH
Paul Konerko, 1B
Alexei Ramirez, SS
Alejandro De Aza, LF
Tyler Flowers, C
Leury Garcia, 2B
Chris Sale, LHP (3-0, 2.66 ERA)
5:45 p.m. ET: Two of the best left-handed pitchers in baseball will converge on one field Thursday.
Jon Lester and Chris Sale will square off Thursday as the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox wrap up their three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field. The White Sox earned a victory in Tuesday’s series opener, but the Red Sox rebounded and snapped a three-game losing streak with a 6-4 win in Wednesday’s 14-inning affair.
The Red Sox’s offense has struggled to manufacture runs, but the unit was fortunate enough to walk 15 times in Wednesday’s contest despite producing just six hits. It was the Red Sox’s most walks in a single game since May 7, 1992, and, according to Elias, it was the first time since at least 1920 that any team reached as many as 23 times in a game with six or fewer hits.
Things will only get more difficult Thursday, when Sale takes the ball for Chicago. The 25-year-old southpaw is one of the most promising young pitchers in baseball, and he enters the game having won all three of his starts this season. Sale, a first-round pick in 2010, earned All-Star selections in 2012 and 2013 en route to finishing in the top six in American League Cy Young voting each season.
A lot of the talk surrounding Lester has been about his next contract, but the veteran has maintained his focus and pitched well for the Red Sox in the early going. The 30-year-old was a hard-luck loser in his first two starts of the season before earning a victory over the New York Yankees on Friday.
Thursday’s first pitch is scheduled for 8:10 p.m. Be sure to tune in on NESN and stick around with NESN.com throughout the evening.