Red Sox Live Blog: John Lackey, Home Run Ball Lift Sox to Third Straight Win

Red Sox Live Blog: John Lackey, Home Run Ball Lift Sox to Third Straight Win Postgame, Red Sox 3-1: All the talk postgame was on John Lackey and his effort against his old team, the latest in a string of solid starts for the Sox.

Lackey admitted to the start being a bit different, but not by much. He had high praise for Victor Martinez, the defense behind him and the bullpen, which retired six straight to end it.

David Ortiz was not in the clubhouse so we have no reaction on his night.

The Sox aim for a sweep Thursday with Daisuke Matsuzaka on the mound opposite Scott Kazmir. With a win Boston will move above .500 for the first time since it was 1-0.

First pitch is 7:10 p.m.

Final, Red Sox 3-1: The streaky Sox are back on a bit of a roll. After winning three straight and then losing three straight on the road last week, they've taken the first three from the Angels and are back at .500 once again.

For the second straight night, it involved solid starting pitching, stellar defense and just enough pop at the plate. That's pretty much how they drew it up when putting this team together.

We're off to hear from Lackey on shutting down his former team, and from the rest of the bunch on a solid all-around effort. We will see if David Ortiz has anything to say about a 2-for-3 night.

End 8th, Red Sox 3-1: There's that insurance I was talking about. Adrian Beltre absolutely crushes one into the bleachers in center, his second home run of the series.

There was a minor degree of concern that Beltre was not slugging early in the year, despite maintaining a pretty healthy batting average. He's turned that around of late.

After recording just three extra-base hits in his first 18 games, Beltre has six — three doubles and three homers — in his last nine games.

Jonathan Papelbon is running onto the field.

Mid 8th, Red Sox 2-1: Daniel Bard has now struck out 13 batters in his last six innings of work. He fanned two in a 1-2-3 eighth.

You would love to see Boston get some insurance here to give Jonathan Papelbon breathing room in the ninth. He will be facing the 2-4 hitters.

End 7th, Red Sox 2-1: You wonder if the missed opportunities will come back to hurt the Red Sox in this one. Marco Scutaro is thrown out at home in the seventh and two more are stranded when J.D. Drew strikes out with runners on the corners.

Boston has left nine men on base to the Angels' three.

Scutaro was trying to score from second on a base hit by Kevin Youkilis. Hideki Matsui made a pretty good throw and Scutaro got around catcher Mike Napoli but came nowhere near touching the plate and was tagged out well past it.

Daniel Bard has come on to replace John Lackey, who yielded just a run on two hits in seven innings.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 2-1: This is what the Red Sox envisioned when they rebuilt this team during the offseason. A horse on the mound who can get groundball after groundball, and a fleet of infielders who just gobble them up with regularity.

Every man across the diamond has made a nice defensive play behind Lackey, the latest being shortstop Marco Scutaro, who fielded a ball up the middle, spun and fired to first to nail Howie Kendrick.

Scutaro has four assists in the last three innings.

End 6th, Red Sox 2-1: Joel Pineiro has been outpitched by John Lackey, but he's done his job just fine.

Pineiro works around a two-on, one-out situation in the sixth. At 117 pitches he might be done, although nobody is warming just yet in the Angels bullpen.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 2-1: You know John Lackey is on when he is getting groundball outs. They are coming in bunches against the Angels.

Ten players have grounded out for Los Angeles, including all three in the fourth and sixth innings. The last fly ball came with one out in the second.

End 5th, Red Sox 2-1: Joel Pineiro has fanned Kevin Youkilis three times in this one. The Sox first baseman goes down swinging in the fifth and Boston wastes a one-out single by Dustin Pedroia.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 2-1: John Lackey was positively cruising, having set down six straight, before a solo shot by Brandon Wood in the fifth.

It was just the second hit off Lackey.

End 4th, Red Sox 2-0: There certainly seems to be plenty of people calling for an outright benching of David Ortiz. But there are plenty itching to see him succeed, as evidenced by the massive roar at Fenway when Ortiz just parked one over the Green Monster.

It was a fastball out and over the plate that Ortiz pounced on for his fourth home run of the year, and third in four games.

There were plenty of people talking about this being a big game for Ortiz to show his team something (see pregame post below on the matter and comments from Terry Francona). He is 2-for-2.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 1-0: Sorry for the delay. Had a few computer issues, but in the meantime watched John Lackey get three straight groundouts to the right side. He has settled in nicely.

End 3rd, Red Sox 1-0: The Sox tried a little hit-and-run and it nearly worked to perfection. With Dustin Pedroia running from first Victor Martinez lined a hot shot ticketed to right. But it nestled into the glove of second baseman Howie Kendrick, who tossed to first for the easy double play.

Kevin Youkilis then struck out for the second time.

Mid 3rd, Red Sox 1-0: John Lackey was asked Tuesday whether his last start against Baltimore had turned things around for him. He replied by saying he has really only had one bad start, a rough outing against Tampa Bay on Patriots' Day.

Sure enough, aside from that disaster, he is 2-0 with a 2.12 ERA after adding in three scoreless frames in this one.

End 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: Where to begin. The bottom of the second inning had a sharp David Ortiz hit, a run scored on an error that was then ruled a hit and a near triple play.

Here is how it went down:

J.D. Drew led off with a walk and went to second on Ortiz's single to center. Adrian Beltre then bounced one down the line at third that if fielded cleanly would've led to a double play, at least. But the ball skipped by Brandon Wood's glove and Drew came home.

It was originally ruled an error but may have hit the bag and never touched Wood's glove. Base hit for Beltre and an RBI.

Jeremy Hermida then lined one right at Joel Pineiro, who snagged it, threw to second to double off Ortiz and then watched as Beltre was nearly caught too far off first base.

All that wackiness and just one run.

Beltre actually overran first base going back in, but Kendry Morales didn't see him. If he turned around he could've applied the tag and finished the triple play.

Mid 2nd, 0-0: If 28 games was a large enough sample size to begin the voting, Dustin Pedroia would be a runaway winner for the Gold Glove Award at second base.

Not only has Pedroia yet to commit an error in 123 chances, but he has seemingly made an out on everything within range. He had the play of the game on Tuesday night by turning a double play with the bases loaded in the eighth, and just had gem to help out John Lackey in the second.

Hideki Matsui hit a chopper that caromed off the plate and bounced high over the mound. Lackey gave up on it as it sailed toward the turf, but Pedroia raced in and threw across his body as he dove head-first into the mound. Matsui, who does not run well, was out by several steps.

Lackey allowed a single and two walks in the inning, so the play was huge. The righty struck out Brandon Wood with the bases loaded to end it.

End 1st, 0-0: Slowly we are seeing signs that Victor Martinez is coming out of it. He entered hitting just .242 with eight RBIs, but has four hits in his last 10 at bats following a two-out single in the first.

Getting some production in the three-hole will be huge going forward for the Sox. Martinez is too good a hitter to stay quiet.

Mid 1st, 0-0: Think I have to agree with Angels manager Mike Scioscia — that looked like a fair ball off the bat of Bobby Abreu to me. Then again, my angle is not the best to make such a call. Either way, a foul call on the grounder down the third-base line helps John Lackey work a perfect first.

Lackey struck out two in the inning. He had 11 strikeouts in his first 23 innings this year, but has eight in his last eight.

7:05 p.m.: A handful of former teammates are being introduced right now. Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, Tim Wakefield, Lou Merloni, Brian Daubach, Trot Nixon and Jason Varitek are out there for the first pitch. Nomar delivers it to Varitek and gets a nice hug from his old backstop.

7:03 p.m.: Nomar ended a brief speech, choking back tears, by saying, "Thank you and I love you," and then receiving a pat on the behind from his wife, Mia.

7:01 p.m.: Nomar was just given two Fenway Park seats and something in a box that I couldn't hear described. He is now speaking.

6:59 p.m.: There is a video tribute for Nomar Garciaparra being played on the big screen in center, and his family is near home plate alongside members of the Red Sox ownership group.

6:47 p.m.: We are getting ready for the Nomar Garciaparra ceremony. There are some out there who might question such an event, but it's a tradition ingrained in the game to honor former players, some of whom were Hall of Famers and many others who were just key figures in an organization.

Over the years those events have included gifts, such as cars, pets, fishing rods, hunting gear and lifetime supplies of beef jerky. One of the many fantastic images in the Fenway Park press box shows Tris Speaker receiving a car in 1912. It being 1912 and all, the automobile was a bit of a novelty and there is a massive crowd of players around the car, inspecting under the hood, kicking the tires, etc.

That has nothing to do with tonight's festivities, I just find it an amusing shot.

We'll take you through the ceremony, which will begin in a bit. Johnny Pesky is on the field to take part.

6:10 p.m.: Yes, we have heard word that a bomb squad is on its way to Fenway Park, but if you are heading to the park everything is proceeding as planned. We have not been told of any interruptions or delays. Obviously we will update you if we hear anything.

4:47 p.m.: A lot of happenings at Fenway Park. We saw Trot Nixon hugging Tim Wakefield and sharing pictures of their families in the Red Sox clubhouse. Nixon, of course, is in the park for Nomar Garciaparra night. It is also Terry Francona's 1,000th game as the Boston manager, and John Lackey's first start against his old team.

We will go hear from Nomar in a bit, but there are some baseball matters to tend to first.

There is a lot of talk about this being a big night for David Ortiz to show something. He is a .391 (9-for-23) hitter against Joel Pineiro and will most certainly be on the pine when lefty Scott Kazmir goes for the Angels on Thursday. Another poor effort and a day off will just extend the misery for the Sox slugger and may force the Red Sox' hand in going with Mike Lowell a bit more often.

Francona admitted that he gave some thought to going with the red-hot Lowell against Pineiro, but in the end is sticking with Ortiz for another night. But the skipper is acknowledging the tenuous nature of the situation more and more.

"If we didn't play David tonight … I understand David's having a tough time," Francona said. "But he's hitting almost .400 off this guy, Kazmir's tomorrow, so I'm trying to not get caught up in …"

That's where Francona tailed off, but it was evident he was alluding to not getting caught up in the fact that Ortiz is hitting .149 and Lowell is 5-for-5 with four doubles and a walk in this series alone. The manager also seemed to appreciate Dustin Pedroia coming to the defense of Ortiz after Tuesday's game.

"Pedroia probably would come to the defense of Mike Lowell, too, but [Ortiz] is his teammate, too," Francona said. "I guess I appreciate that."

Francona said the he is mindful of the situation not becoming a distraction going forward.

"If we're talking about it that probably means it's not going the way we want it to. If it is a distraction then we have to figure out a way for it not to be."

It just feels as if Francona is getting closer to giving Lowell that start against a righty, the sure sign that the club is losing patience with Ortiz. Stay tuned.

In other news, Jacoby Ellsbury was seen taking some pretty aggressive cuts in the cage about an hour ago. Francona said he still seems to be pulling his hands in a little bit, a sign of being a bit shy about taking a huge cut. But both Ellsbury and Mike Cameron are getting close.

"That corner's getting turned where they can start being aggressive," Francona said. "Hopefully it won't be too far off."

Also, infielder Jed Lowrie, out since mid-March with mono, has increased his workouts and is finally mixing baseball activities with strength training. He has gained four pounds. The goal, according to Francona, is to have Lowrie playing games in four weeks.

3:19 p.m.: Not a cloud in the sky on Cinco de Mayo at Fenway Park, where Nomar Garciaparra will be honored in just a few hours. No. 5 on 5/5. We will have more on that in a bit. Here is the Red Sox lineup against Joel Pineiro:

Marco Scutaro SS
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Victor Martinez C
Kevin Youkilis 1B
J.D. Drew RF
David Ortiz DH
Adrian Beltre 3B
Jeremy Hermida LF
Bill Hall CF

8 a.m.: After losing three straight to lowly Baltimore over the weekend, the Red Sox can win their third in a row against the suddenly reeling Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Wednesday night.

Following a 17-8 rout in the series opener Monday, Boston used some sparkling defense, a dominant eight innings for Jon Lester and a late rally against the pathetic L.A. bullpen to secure a 5-1 win Tuesday.

Wednesday's contest will feature John Lackey starting against his former team for the first time. Joel Pineiro, a reliever with the Sox in 2007, goes for the Angels, losers of five straight.

First pitch is 7:10 p.m., but only after a pregame ceremony for former Boston great Nomar Garciaparra.

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