Boston improves to 7-10 with its third straight one-run win, an absolute grind of a game that saw all kinds of oddities.
David Ortiz did not stick around to talk to reporters. Jon Lester did, saying he was upset with his four walks and inability to limit the baserunners, but pleased with a "step in the right direction."
John Lackey will try to take a similar step when he takes on the O's on Saturday night opposite Baltimore's rising star, Brian Matusz. First pitch is 7:10 p.m. and we'll be following the action right here.
Final, Red Sox 4-3: Talk about a grind. This one featured 11 pitchers, 14 walks and took three hours, 35 minutes. The final result is all that matters to the Sox, who got a solo shot from David Ortiz and scored three more on a sac fly, a double-play grounder and a walk with the bases loaded.
It's enough to claim three wins in four nights for Boston and add to the suffering for the Orioles, now 2-15.
Baltimore had its chances against Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth. Nick Markakis had a shot off the wall in left but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. A walk, a wild pitch and an intentional walk put two on for old friend Julio Lugo.
With chants of "Lu-go" raining down from the rafters, Papelbon pumped one by him to finally end it.
We are off to the clubhouse to get reaction.
End 8th, Red Sox 4-3: It never hurts to get deep into the Orioles bullpen, which has choked away its fair share of games this year. The Sox use three straight walks by Baltimore relievers in the eighth to force in a run, the RBI going to Adrian Beltre, who usually needs written instructions on how to take a walk.
Beltre drew ball four from Jim Johnson to force in J.D. Drew, who had singled to start the frame.
Jonathan Papelbon time.
10:16 p.m.: The Sox have a runner on third with two outs when Orioles manager Dave Trembley makes his fourth pitching change. Lefty Will Ohman is on to face Victor Martinez.
Mid 8th, 3-3: The Orioles scratch for the tying run, but it could've been more if not for a horrendous call that goes in the favor of the Red Sox.
With no outs and runners on first and second, Garrett Atkins bunted to third baseman Adrian Beltre, who took his time before deciding too late to throw to second. Too late, it seemed, until second base umpire Jeff Kellogg gave the out signal.
What should've been bases loaded and nobody out turned into one out with runners on the corners. Baltimore got the one run it needed on an RBI groundout by Luke Scott.
The tying run was scored by some guy named Julio Lugo. Anyone heard of him?
End 7th, Red Sox 3-2: It took about 30 minutes for the Sox to get a walk, a sacrifice bunt and a walk. There were two pitching changes, and two pinch hitters. Then, in an instant, it's all over as Marco Scutaro hits into a double play.
I'd also like to take this time to wish my parents a happy 44th anniversary. It's very doubtful they are following the Sox game, but they deserve a mention here.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 3-2: Miguel Tejada singled with two outs in the seventh to put the go-ahead run at the plate in the form of Ty Wigginton, who had yet to be retired in the game. Hideki Okajima gets Wiggy (with it) to end the inning.
This could be one of those games where we see Jonathan Papelbon for a save of more than one inning. Okajima will head back out for the eighth with 16 pitches thrown already. If he runs into any trouble, Paps will be up.
9:24 p.m.: The Boston bullpen's string of 21 1/3 scoreless innings has been shattered by an Adam Jones two-run blast off Daniel Bard. Hideki Okajima is on with one out in the seventh.
End 6th, Red Sox 3-0: David Ortiz, who homered in the second, gets knocked down by Jeremy Guthrie in the sixth. Didn't appear to be much intent there, as the pitch was nearly over the inside corner but just up near Papi's head. But I'm sure everyone is thinking it.
Daniel Bard is on to start the seventh. Nobody is warming in the pen, but there is some stirring.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 3-0: As has been the case virtually all season, Daniel Bard gets the job done. He induces a pop to center with the bases loaded to preserve the shutout. That is the second time this game the Orioles have left three on.
Bard is unscored upon in his last 4 1/3 innings. He will be out again in the seventh.
The line on Lester:
5 2/3 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 7 K
The glaring number is the four walks. He has issued at least three free passes in every start. He also hit a batter once.
9:00 p.m.: Jon Lester cannot get out of the sixth inning. He leaves with the bases loaded and two outs. Daniel Bard is in.
End 5th, Red Sox 3-0: Miguel Tejada's second error in a span of four batters helps the Sox out in the fifth.
For reasons we may never know, Tejada tried to throw a backhanded toss to second for a force, while on his back. The ball rolled toward first and allowed Adrian Beltre to go to third. He scored on Josh Reddick's grounder moments later.
You have to like the Sox taking what they are given. On Thursday it looked as if every guy was looking for that big hit again, one which never came.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 2-0: The Sox FINALLY catch a guy stealing, but it has to come on a pickoff by Jon Lester. The club is now 2-for-37 in erasing would-be base stealers this year.
Cesar Izturis is the victim. He broke too soon after Lester had hit him with a pitch. Lou Montanez and Adam Jones then whiffed, giving Lester six Ks on the night.
End 4th, Red Sox 2-0: Ortiz provided dramatics with a solo shot in his first at bat, and induced a few oohs and aahs in his second, but this time it was only because his bat shattered on the front end of a double play.
It was the old 5-4-3 twin killing. The end of Ortiz's bat rolled out well past first base.
Mid 4th, Red Sox 2-0: Jon Lester bent, but he did not break in the fourth, striking out Garrett Atkins with a 95 mph fastball to leave the bases loaded.
The next inning is a big one for Lester. On the season he has a 3.00 ERA in the fourth inning, a 9.00 ERA in the fifth and a 27.00 ERA in the sixth. Safe to say he has hit the wall at about this time in previous starts.
Lester has thrown 72 pitches.
End 3rd, Red Sox 2-0: The Sox have not done much to manufacture runs this year but did a nice job of it in the third, making a free pass pay off.
Jeremy Hermida led off with the walk and moved to third on a ground ball and a single by Marco Scutaro. J.D. Drew followed with a sacrifice fly to left.
We looked it up. The last time Boston scored first was at Minnesota on April 14, when the club scored a run in the top of the first en route to a 6-3 win.
Mid 3rd, Red Sox 1-0: It just feels weird to be watching a Red Sox game when they have an early lead. They've played from behind the better part of a week.
With a cushion, however small, perhaps Jon Lester can hit that groove the Sox are seeking. He looked like it in the third, getting three straight outs without a problem.
A nice running catch by center fielder Josh Reddick helped Lester out.
End 2nd Red Sox 1-0: David Ortiz won't be giving up his designated hitter role without a fight. In his 42nd at bat of the season he launches one over the Green Monster for his first home run since Sept. 28.
Ortiz is now 8-for-24 (.333) with three home runs against Guthrie.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: One defensive gem, one defensive blunder in the second for the Sox. The mistake was made by Marco Scutaro, who has not impressed thus far at shortstop.
Scutaro chose to go to second for a force on a grounder despite the runner being already on the bag (it was Matt Wieters and he was running). It went into the books as a fielder's choice, but it was a bad decision.
Adrian Beltre bailed him out by getting a grounder off the bat of Garrett Atkins, tagging Wieters and then firing a missile to first for a double play.
End 1st, 0-0: Terry Francona said earlier that Dustin Pedroia is going through a stretch where he "wants to do everything himself." Pedroia was the only guy hitting for a long time, but since he's been dropped to the third spot in the lineup he has cooled.
Pedroia is now 2-for-19 in that role after flying out to end a 1-2-3 first. That's 10 innings without a run for Boston since the walk-off hit by Kevin Youkilis on Wednesday night.
If Francona's promises mean much to you, then you should know that he ended his answer about Pedroia with these words: "He'll get hot."
No reason to think otherwise.
Mid 1st, 0-0: One of the issues in the Orioles' slow start has been the play of Nick Markakis, who was ice cold early. But he now has 13 hits in his last 38 at bats after doubling ith two down in the first inning. That's all they get on Jon Lester in the first. He fans Miguel Tejada to end it, one of two strikeouts in the inning.
6:29 p.m.: In about 40 minutes Jon Lester will take the hill to try to put his April struggles behind him. Terry Francona has said for a couple of weeks now that once Lester finds his groove, he'll be all set, but he just hasn't yet.
"I hope he regains it quickly," Francona said.
As we have mentioned, the Orioles present a great opportunity. Lester is 10-0 with a 2.39 ERA in his career against Baltimore, including four wins in 2009.
That said, the O's have a series of guys who have hurt the southpaw in the past. The 4-6 hitters — Miguel Tejada, Ty Wigginton and Matt Wieters — are a combined 15-for-31 (.484) against Lester.
Oh, you need the Baltimore lineup. Here it is:
Lou Montanez LF
Adam Jones CF
Nick Markakis RF
Miguel Tejada 3B
Ty Wigginton 2B
Matt Wieters C
Nolan Reimold DH
Garrett Atkins 1B
Cesar Izturis SS
4:18 p.m.: Terry Francona continued to shirk the million dollar question (will Tim Wakefield go to the bullpen when Daisuke Matsuzaka returns?), even though it seems as if the answer has already been given. What Francona did tell us this afternoon is that Matsuzaka will make his debut in the series at Baltimore next weekend.
Matsuzaka will throw a four-inning simulated game Monday in Toronto. There is a day off Thursday, at which point Francona said the weekend rotation will be set.
Wakefield will start Sunday against the Orioles at home. Clay Buchholz's next start will be Tuesday in Toronto.
3:34 p.m.: The sun is in and out here at Fenway Park, and a few raindrops were felt as I walked in moments ago. But there should be no problem with the weather going forward. Here is the Red Sox lineup:
Marco Scutaro SS
J.D. Drew RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Kevin Youkilis 1B
Victor Martinez C
David Ortiz DH
Adrian Beltre 3B
Jeremy Hermida LF
Josh Reddick CF
8:02 a.m.:The Red Sox continue their 10-game home stand Friday night when they host the Baltimore Orioles in the opener of a three-game series.
Boston managed to get just one runner to second base in a 3-0 loss to C.J. Wilson and the Texas Rangers on Thursday. The shutout prevented the Sox from picking up their first series sweep of the season, and dropped the club to 2-6 in its last eight games.
Jon Lester will attempt to end his April struggles when he takes the hill. Lester has been wildly successful against the Orioles in his career, and this time gets to face a Baltimore team which ranks last in the American League in runs scored.
Jeremy Guthrie gets the start for the O's, who lost 16 of 18 meetings with the Sox in 2009.
We will have all the in-game analysis right here. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m.