Red Sox Nation breathed a sigh of relief on Friday as Boston earned its first win in a week and its second of the second half. There's no place like home when the Red Sox are trying to pick up a win — and there's no team like the Orioles, who have struggled mightily against the AL East in 2009.
Brad Penny picked up his sixth win of the season, and Jacoby Ellsbury and J.D. Drew got the bats going as Boston finally got on the right track — but the Sox offense, which mustered just three runs, still has a long, long way to go.
Red Sox 3, Orioles 1
Fenway Park, Boston, Mass.
July 24, 2009
Headliner: Brad Penny, stopper? It certainly appeared that way on Friday night. The big righty — who is known for his tendency to give his all for five innings and then bow out gracefully — threw 107 pitches over 6 1/3 solid innings, allowing just four hits and one run while fanning four. He also did what every other guy in the rotation couldn't do, fearlessly leading the Red Sox to victory after a brutal loss.
The offense still has a lot of work to do — three runs per game just isn't going to cut it down the stretch — but for now, it works.
Dirt Dog: J.D. Drew entered Friday's game with a .233 average. In July, he has batted .121, going 7-for-58 with two home runs, three RBIs and 19 strikeouts.
Hopefully, Friday symbolized the beginning of something good.
The maligned right-fielder scrounged up a hit, an RBI and some of his dignity, igniting Boston's fourth-inning rally with a leadoff single.
Special shout-out to leadoff man of the moment Ellsbury, who went 2-for-4, and Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis, who gunned down Ellsbury at the plate with two outs in the sixth to save a run for Baltimore.
Better Luck Next Time: Boston knows how it feels to send a pitcher out to the mound and watch a solid outing amount to nothing because of a lack of run support. For the first time in a week, the Red Sox found themselves on the opposite side of that equation, getting to Baltimore's Brad Bergesen for nine hits and three runs over six innings. The rookie, who has allowed more than four earned runs just once in 17 starts, fell to 6-5.
Honorable mention to Kevin Youkilis and Jed Lowrie, the only members of Boston's lineup who failed to register a hit.
Key Moment: Boston went down 1-0 in the second, when Melvin Mora drove in Baltimore's first run with a sacrifice fly. In the bottom of the fourth, though, something unheralded happened: The Red Sox notched three hits in a row. Drew got it started, then Mike Lowell followed up with a double. Jason Varitek's single plated Drew, and Lowell scored on Lowrie's sac fly to put Boston up 2-1.
The Sox earned their third run in the bottom of the fifth, when Drew's fielder's choice drove in Youkilis.
On Deck: Is two in a row too much to ask? Boston tries to salvage the month of July and win its first series of the second half on Saturday at 7:10 p.m. Southpaw Jon Lester (8-7, 3.87 ERA) was the victim of a lack of run support last time out against Toronto — he allowed three runs on five hits over seven innings — and he hasn't allowed more than three runs in his last nine starts. He's 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 14 innings against Baltimore this season.
His opponent is Jeremy Guthrie (7-8, 5.12 ERA), best known for the 2007 Mother's Day Miracle debacle. In his last start, he threw eight innings and allowed three hits, but he is tied for second in the American League in most earned runs allowed.