Jon Lester, Kevin Youkilis Carry Red Sox to Victory


Jon Lester, Kevin Youkilis Carry Red Sox to Victory Final, Red Sox 9-3: Pawtucket call-up Robert Manuel gets his first Fenway action with this game well in hand, and aside from a double that is overturned and becomes a home run, he closes this one  nicely for the Red Sox.

This is his second stint with Boston. With Triple-A, he's gone 4-1 with a 1.54 ERA in addition to being named an International League All-Star.

PawSox teammate Niuman Romero also takes over at second base.

What begins as a strong outing goes a bit awry for Manuel; he retires the first two batters on routine flyouts to center, then walks Matt Wieters and allows him to score on a wall-ball double by Jake Fox that should have been a home run. The play is under review, and this has to be a bit of an uncomfortable feeling for Romero, who's just loitering on the mound, alone, waiting for the ruling.

The call is overturned, and it's a homer for Fox.

End 8th, Red Sox 9-1: So much for that resilient Orioles bullpen.

Daniel Nava continues this nice little hot streak he's been on recently. He scores an infield hit, then moves to second on an errant throw to first.

Nava now has hits in three of his last five at-bats and has two RBIs in that span.

Mike Cameron extends the feel-good vibe with a double to the gap in center, scoring Nava and tallying his first hit of the night to offset two K's. Then, with two outs, Eric Patterson reaches on another infield hit. Ty Wigginton makes an error trying to flip the ball to Mata for the out, allowing Cameron to score the eighth run.

Orioles manager Juan Samuel is then ejected for the first time in his career before David Ortiz's second double of the night makes it 9-1.

Middle 8th, Red Sox 6-1: Ramon Ramirez is on in Jon Lester's place to start the eighth.

He houses a 4.88 ERA, but Ramirez has not allowed a run in nine of his last 12 outings. He hasn't allowed a hit in seven of those games.

This, however, is not one of those games, as he allows a leadoff single to No. 9 hitter Cesar Izturis. He rebounds quickly to retire the side with two K's. Cue "Sweet Caroline."

End 7th, Red Sox 6-1: As iffy as Jeremy Guthrie was, the Baltimore bullpen has been the opposite. Mark Hendrickson replaces Matt Albers, and his only blip on the radar is a two-out single to J.D. Drew.

After that hit, Hendrickson is relieved by Frank Mata, who retires Adrian Beltre on a flyout to center. 

In the eight games leading up to Saturday, the Orioles bullpen boasted a 1.69 ERA.

Beltre, by the way, is having one of the rougher nights he's had recently, going 0-for-4.

Middle 7th, Red Sox 6-1: Tag this as another impressive start for Jon Lester, who — barring a meltdown — has now allowed one run or less in nine of his 17 starts this season.

Also, if he holds on to this one, his 12 straight wins against Baltimore will perpetuate the longest current winning streak by any active pitcher against any team.

End 6th, Red Sox 6-1: Get ready for the broken record to begin — but given the unheralded injury woes facing this team, their ability to put runs on the board has to feel good, even if it is against the Orioles.

Adam Jones robs Marco Scutaro of a one-out wall-ball double, making the catch right against the monster to help Matt Albers stave off trouble. He has now retired six straight.

Middle 6th, Red Sox 6-1: Jon Lester punctuates this 1-2-3 inning with a strikeout of Adam Jones. It's his second courtesy of Jones tonight, his sixth overall.

Lester now leads the team with 11 quality starts.

End 5th, Red Sox 6-1: Matt Albers replaces Jeremy Guthrie and faces Adrian Beltre, who entered tonight's game tied with Robinson Cano for the league lead in batting average .346.

Beltre has since dipped below that mark, going 0-for-3 so far.

Meanwhile, Albers fares a bit better than Guthrie, beginning his evening with 11 consecutive strikes to retire the side.

None out, 5th inning, Red Sox 6-1: Kevin Youkilis goes deep for the 16th time this year, taking a 2-2 offering from Jeremy Guthrie over the wall in left.

It puts Boston up 6-1 — leadoff man David Ortiz had reached after Miguel Tejada failed to get a handle on a grounder to third, as the Orioles were in the shift. 

Youkilis is now 2-for-3 with a home run, a double and 3 RBIs this evening.

J.D. Drew singles, and after allowing three straight hits to begin the inning, Jeremy Guthrie's night is over.

Middle 5th, Red Sox 4-1: Matt Wieters breaks up that nice little retired-batters streak that Jon Lester had going, leading off the fifth with a double to the wall in left-center.

Against left-handed pitchers, Wieters is hitting just .222. He doesn't seem to have a problem with Lester, though, entering Saturday's game with a .400 average against the Boston southpaw with two RBIs.

Lester nearly retires the side, but after Adrian Beltre fails to bare-hand a dribbler down the third baseline, he must face Corey Patterson, who singles through the gap between first and second. The hit brings home Wieters and brings an end to Lester's 16 2/3-inning scoreless streak against Baltimore.

End 4th, Red Sox 4-0: Kevin Cash strikes for his first hit since returning to the Red Sox, a one-out single to center.

Against Guthrie, Cash is now 2-for-8 with one RBI. Against the Orioles, he's 12-for-70 with one homer and three RBIs. 

Middle 4th, Red Sox 4-0: Jon Lester entered Saturday's game with a 12-inning scoreless streak against Baltimore, and thus far, he's extended it to 16 innings.

He's really bounced back after that somewhat problematic first, whiffing two more in the fourth and retiring his 10th straight batter.

End 3rd, Red Sox 4-0: J.D. Drew, who leads off the bottom of the third, entered Saturday's game with five home runs against the Orioles, and five against all other MLB teams combined.

He draws a leadoff walk against Jeremy Guthrie, but he's erased on a double-play ball by Adrian Beltre. Daniel Nava flies out to center to end what has been Guthrie's first hitless inning.

Middle 3rd, Red Sox 4-0: At this point last night, we had the fifth inning pretty much wrapped up. In fact, Friday's game (2:07) was the shortest at Fenway Park since Sept. 17, 2002, and that game lasted 2:06. Tim Wakefield was the starter in that affair as well.

Jon Lester has now retired seven straight men and tallies his third strikeout of the night.

End 2nd, Red Sox 4-0: The Red Sox are not kind to Jeremy Guthrie. The Orioles have lost the last eight games the right-hander has started against Boston.

This inning begins better than the last — he retires the first two men he faces — but after walking Eric Patterson, Guthrie allows a double to David Ortiz (and had the Orioles been playing more heads-up defense, they certainly would've gotten him at second).

This time, Guthrie gets out of the jam, as Julio Lugo makes a long throw across the diamond to get Kevin Youkilis at first.

Middle 2nd, Red Sox 4-0: That long wait in between innings doesn't faze Jon Lester. He rebounds nicely from a rough first to retire the side in order, notching his first two K's of the night — courtesy of Jake Fox and Julio Lugo, who is still greeted with a steady chorus of boos.

End 1st, Red Sox 4-0: Three Red Sox doubles later, Jeremy Guthrie is not having a good night.

Just like Corey Patterson, Marco Scutaro leads off with a single to left. Guthrie erases him with a fielder's choice, but puts two on with one out after walking David Ortiz — and Kevin Youkilis makes him pay, doubling to the gap in deep left-center. The red-hot J.D. Drew brings both men in with a double to right-center, and he's nearly erased on a double play when Adrian Beltre sends a sharp-liner back to Guthrie, but he dives back to the bag.

Then Friday night's hero, Daniel Nava, keeps the inning going with a double of his own over the leap of Nick Markakis in right, bringing home Drew for the 4-0 lead.

Middle 1st: For those of you wondering — yes, the Pattersons on the Orioles and Red Sox are related. Boston's Eric Patterson is the younger brother of Baltimore's Corey Patterson.

Speaking of which, Corey leads off the game with a single to left against Jon Lester, and this has not been an easy frame for the Oriole killer. After a lengthy battle with Miguel Tejada that ends in a foul pop-up to third, Nick Markakis emerges from an equally long at-bat with a one-out single to right, and then Lester walks Ty Wigginton.

He gets out of it when Adam Jones hits into a double play, and Kevin Youkilis makes a great play on the throw from second to get him.

6:24 p.m.: Kevin Cash made his 2010 debut at Fenway Park on Friday night, going 0-for-3 but impressing nonetheless when he caught Adam Jones stealing.

Terry Francona said the Victor Martinez/Jason Varitek replacement is faring just fine in his new-ish surroundings.

"Cashie knows these guys," Francona said. "They talk so much. We had a normal pitchers meeting [on Friday], and they talk during the game."

Francona mentioned that there have been times during his tenure in Boston when a catcher has entered the mix unexpectedly and hasn't fared so well — specifically, in 2006, when injury woes forced Theo Epstein to acquire Javy Lopez.

"I think under different circumstances — remember, we got Javy Lopez in '06, that was hard because he didn't know anybody and he was coming in on the fly," Francona said. "So there were some rough times, but that's part of the reason Cash is here."

5:15 p.m.: Given the abundant injuries currently afflicting the Red Sox, Terry Francona offered some insight on what it's like to deal with the bumps and bruises while still trying to help the team.

"There were times when I was injured when I wasn't playing a lot, when I was a bench player. … There were times in my career I knew if I went on the DL, I was going to get released, so I just didn't say anything," Francona said. "Times have changed." 

The most important thing is to protect the players instead of forcing them onto the field, even if backup options are limited — like they are right now for Boston.

"There's a lot of different reasons you have to protect — I don't want to refer to a player as an investment because that's not how I feel, but you have to protect your players," he said.

Francona also indicated that outfielder Mike Cameron's injury situation may be a little worse than anybody knows. The 37-year-old returned from the DL on May 25 after spending over a month recovering from a lower abdominal strain.

"I don't think people understand what Cam's going through to make himself available," Francona said. "He's not 100 percent; he's not getting the balls he has [before] in his sleep. It's hard for him. To play a game, he has to really prepare. … He's really hard on himself. [On Friday], he was devastated by the fact that he had to come out of that game right before it started. I guess from where we sit, we appreciate what he's trying to do."

5:04 p.m.: Francona also had updates to offer on outfielder Jeremy Hermida and reliever Manny Delcarmen.

Hermida — who's been on the DL since June 11 (retroactive to June 10) with fractured ribs — hit off a tee on Saturday and should soon be ready to take live batting practice. It most likely will happen sometime around the scheduled off-day on July 8 in Toronto.

"Hermida went out and swung off the tee pretty aggressively and felt really good," Francona said. "I would say live BP for him hopefully before the day off going to Toronto. Somewhere Tuesday, Wednesday-ish, he may be able to take some live BP, but he's doing pretty well."

Meanwhile, Francona received the results of Delcarmen's MRI, which he underwent on Friday afternoon. By all indications, everything looks better than expected.

"Structurally, it came out really good," Francona said. "Even the amount of swelling is not as much as I think they expected, which is really good. It's strictly musculature. We'll keep him down for a few days, maybe throw a couple bullpens like Friday and Sunday before the break and hopefully that'll do the trick."

4:53 p.m.: While Clay Buchholz is, at the moment, still slated to start on Monday, Francona said that the team is going to make certain the young lefty is ready to go before sending him out against Tampa Bay.

"If he pitches on Monday, he's going to have to be as close to 100 percent as he can be," Francona said. "We're going to run him through some more stuff, and if he doesn't in our opinion 'pass' — we're not going to pitch him unless we're completely sure. So we'll see." 

The manager indicated that the pitching itself isn't what the medical staff is concerned about — it's the fielding.

"The pitching parts been the easiest for him," Francona said. "The moving around and fielding his position is where we have a little bit of concern. Obviously, we're going to err on the side of caution with him. Nothing's been ruled out yet."

4:30 p.m.: Everyone's still talking about Friday's game, which lasted an unbelievable two hours and seven minutes. At the forefront of the effort was Tim Wakefield, who threw eight innings of two-run ball and finally got his first win of the season at Fenway.

"That was unbelievable," manager Terry Francona said. "I don't think any of us knew how to act. It just didn't seem like — it's like you're missing something, like we've got [Jonathan Papelbon closing] in the sixth inning. Both guys were throwing strikes and working quick. It was great. Their guy [Brad Bergesen] was great, too."

For those of you looking to enjoy some quality sun after Sunday's afternoon start, have no fear, said Francona. 

"Daisuke's not pitching tomorrow," he joked. "You'll be alright."

3:16 p.m.: Happy America's Birthday Eve. We have lineups here at Fenway Park. 

After Friday's game-winning bloop single, Daniel Nava has earned himself a spot in the starting lineup, as Boston's somewhat makeshift outfield takes on a more traditional look. Mike Cameron is back in the mix as well after being scratched from Friday's lineup with abdominal soreness.

1. Corey Patterson, LF
2. Miguel Tejada, 3B
3. Nick Markakis, RF
4. Ty Wigginton, 1B
5. Adam Jones, CF
6. Matt Wieters, C
7. Jake Fox, DH
8. Julio Lugo, 2B
9. Cesar Izturis, SS

Red Sox
1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. Eric Patterson, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
5. J.D. Drew, RF
6. Adrian Beltre, 3B
7. Daniel Nava, LF
8. Mike Cameron, CF
9. Kevin Cash, C

Can Jon Lester match Clay Buchholz?s 10 wins?

Well, he?s facing Baltimore, which gives him a more-than-fair shot.

The Oriole killer is 11-0 in his career against the Birds with a 2.06 ERA. In two starts this season against Baltimore, he?s 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA — and judging by his impressive start against Tim Lincecum — the pride of the National League — last weekend, mowing down the Orioles should be no problem.

Last time out, Lester went nine innings and allowed one run on five hits with nine K?s. Furthermore, he allowed his only run in the first, blanking the Giants over the final eight frames en route to his ninth win of the season.

Lester takes on Jeremy Guthrie, who is 1-6 with a 4.52 ERA against Boston. The Birds have lost the last eight games Guthrie has started against Boston, so the stage is set for another gem from Boston?s best.

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