Final, 9-6 Red Sox: It won't be remembered in 10 years, but for now, the Red Sox have a good win that they can feel good about for the next 19 hours or so.
Papelbon slammed the door in the ninth, despite the delay of several minutes due to the umpire swap, retired the top of the order to close out the victory.
After a horrific first inning and a bad showing in the second, Jon Lester recovered in a big way to remain unbeaten against the Orioles.
The Yankees and Rays both won, so there was no ground to be gained, but this team needed a win badly. Thanks to a gutsy finish from Lester and a six-run seventh, they have it.
Bottom 9th, 9-6 Red Sox: The job of a closer in MLB is fairly difficult. It's even harder when you have to wait five minutes because a foul ball may have broken the home plate ump's wrist.
That's what Papelbon is dealing with now, after a Nick Markakis foul ball caught Tom Hallion in the left arm. Though the foul ball made the count 1-2, Hallion could not stay in the game, and the players are now awaiting one of the other umps to change into the home plate umpire gear.
Papelbon waits. And so do we.
Middle 9th, 9-6 Red Sox: The save situation is intact as Papelbon enters for the save. In 34 innings against Baltimore in his career, Papelbon has an 0.79 ERA with 28 saves.
End 8th, 9-6 Red Sox: The Orioles score a run on Bard — which is no small feat. In his last 14 1/3 innings, he's now given up three runs (good for a 1.88 ERA).
While he probably wasn't too happy, Jonathan Papelbon might not have minded. If the Sox don't score in the top of the ninth, the closer will have a chance now to pick up his 34th save.
Middle 8th, 9-5 Red Sox: The top of the seventh was a tough act to follow.
Scutaro walked in the eighth but other than that, it was a quiet inning. After throwing 12 pitches in the seventh, Bard is heading back out for the eighth.
End 7th, 9-5 Red Sox: Daniel Bard gives up a hit but induces a 6-4-3 double play to end the seventh. A win that seemed impossible at 8 p.m. is now just six outs away.
Middle 7th, 9-5 Red Sox: How's that for a turnaround?
Following Scutaro's tying homer, Victor Martinez doubled home J.D. Drew, who scored all the way from first. An intentional walk to David Ortiz didn't exactly work for the O's, as Adrian Beltre launched a moonshot that just cleared the wall in left field.
When the dust settled, the Sox held a four-run lead, and Jon Lester, who looked to be cooked in the first inning, is in line to pick up a victory.
Baseball is a funny game.
Top 7th, 5-5: There's an all-new ballgame in Baltimore, thanks to a two-run homer from Marco Scutaro.
The inning started with a pinch-hit single from Darnell McDonald, and two batters later, Scutaro tied things up.
After a J.D. Drew walk, Alfredo Simon is entering in relief for Hendrickson.
End 6th, Orioles 5-3: Give Jon Lester credit. He may have dug the Sox into a deep hole, but he made sure that it got no worse after the second inning.
The lefty gutted his way through six innings, using 120 pitches to record 10 strikeouts. A night that began as ugly as ugly gets turned out to be salvageable. Now, it's on the offense to make it matter.
Middle 6th, Orioles 5-3: The Red Sox get a hit — their seventh of the night — but again, it goes to waste as they can't score.
The offense has been spread fairly evenly, with everyone but Martinez and Beltre recording a hit.
End 5th, Orioles 5-3: Clearly, Jon Lester is not very happy when he gives up five runs in two innings. So unhappy that he takes it out on his opponent.
He's now sent down the last 10 batters he faced, six by way of strikeout. He K'd Wigginton and Jones to end the fifth, bringing his total to eight.
On the other side, Arrieta's night is over as lefty Mark Hendrickson will face David Ortiz to begin the sixth.
Middle 5th, Orioles 5-3: The Red Sox begin to fight back, getting a solo shot from J.D. Drew to cut the lead to two runs.
End 4th, Orioles 5-2: Lester looks like Lester again … so that's good.
The lefty has now retired seven in a row after recording two strikeouts in the fourth. He has six K's on the night, and at 84 pitches, he should be good for at least another inning.
Middle 4th, Orioles 5-2: A Mike Lowell single (and advancement to second on a wild pitch) goes by the wayside as Daniel Nava goes down swinging to end the inning.
Adrian Beltre sent one to the warning track to lead off the inning, and Jed Lowrie squared one up following that shot, so the offense isn't too far off.
End 3rd, Orioles 5-2: Lester sits the Orioles down quietly on 12 pitches. That's at least the first step to turning this night around.
Middle 3rd, Orioles 5-2: After falling behind 5-2, the Sox could have used a few runs to boost their confidence. Instead, they went down in order.
Drew flew out, Martinez went down swinging and Ortiz flew out to right.
Anyone who's looking for a positive sign can point out Lester's pitch count. Though he's been shelled thus far, he's still at 57 pitches. Perhaps he can turn things around and put in five or six innings. With Arrieta at 60 pitches through three, this one's got a long way to go.
End 2nd, Orioles 5-2: All the talk of Jon Lester's dominance of the Orioles and there are actually several members of Wednesday night's lineup that have some pretty good numbers against him. Ty Wigginton is one such fellow.
Wigginton is now 8-for-19 (.421) off Lester following an RBI single in the second. Lester has thrown 57 pitches through two innings.
Mid 2nd, Orioles 4-2: Daniel Nava entered with six hits in his last 40 at-bats (.150) and Ryan Kalish was 3-for-31 (.097), but both had hits in the second to put together the second run for the Red Sox.
Nava singled with two outs and Kalish followed with an RBI double at the tail end of an 11-pitch at-bat against Jake Arrieta.
End 1st, Orioles 4-1: When Jon Lester set a career high with three wild pitches his last time out it was forgiven. He was so dominant in the rest of the outing that it barely mattered. But he was all over the place in the first inning of this one and now some questions can be asked. You can start with asking why Lester is so inconsistent these days?
After two one-out singles, Lester hit Ty Wigginton with a 1-2 pitch. After a two-run double to Adam Jones he threw one over and behind the head of Felix Pie to allow a third run to come in from third.
Pie then watched two more balls go by before crushing a 3-1 offering off the wall in right for an RBI double.
Like I said earlier, Lester is a virtual shoo-in to beat the Orioles. Didn't mean he was a lock. Certainly doesn't seem to be a sure thing in this one.
The horrid inning comes two starts after Lester gave up nine runs in two innings against Toronto.
Robert Manuel was up and warming with just one out in the inning.
Mid 1st, Red Sox 1-0: Although he had more at-bats in August (105) than in any other month of the year, David Ortiz had fewer RBIs (8) than in any month other than his miserable April. He already has one in September after lining a run-scoring double into the corner in right.
6:59 p.m.: Don't do this too often but when every commenter fails to read a line the right way, it becomes necessary.
The line on Lester in the very first post was that he was a VIRTUAL shoo-in for a victory, implying, as the dictionary does, that he has the "essence" of being a lock to win, but not necessarily being a lock.
When a guy is 12-0 against one team and his club has won 14 of his 15 starts in those matchups, well, it is a virtual shoo-in. It does not imply a 100 percent lock, but it's pretty close. We know the O's are playing better than the Sox these days so anything can happen. But Lester has been a sure thing against Baltimore. That's all that meant.
Believe me. I'm not betting my kid's college tuition on a Lester win.
Glad we cleared that up. Let's get ready for baseball.
6:45 p.m.: The word on Felix Doubront is that he has a mild strain in his upper pectoral muscle. He had an MRI and a CT scan in Boston, both of which came back negative. He is not expected to miss much time.
Elsewhere on the injury front, Dustin Pedroia was slated to have a scan on his foot before the game and then another Friday, at which point we will know if surgery is to occur or not.
The issue with Marco Scutaro has been reported to be a herniated disc in his neck. The pain has severely affected his arm strength. Surgery in the offseason is a possibility.
6:16 p.m.: Jon Lester enters this one on the verge of history. With a win he would improve to 13-0 vs. Baltimore and surpass Hall of Famer Red Faber for the longest winning streak against the Orioles franchise to start a career.
Faber, who pitched 20 seasons with the Chicago White Sox from 1914-33, won his first 12 decisions against the old St. Louis Browns from 1914-16.
For all of you wondering when Red Faber would get into the live blog, you can now rest easy.
Lester's 12 straight wins vs. the O's is the longest current streak by any pitcher against any other team in the majors. The last Red Sox pitcher with a streak this long was Tim Wakefield, who won 12 straight decisions against Tampa Bay from 2001 to 2005. Pedro Martinez won 13 straight appearances (12 starts) against Seattle from 1998 to 2004.
Here is the lineup that will attempt to end Lester's run of dominance:
Brian Roberts, 2B
Julio Lugo, SS
Nick Markakis, RF
Ty Wigginton, 1B
Adam Jones, CF
Felix Pie, LF
Matt Wieters, C
Nolan Reimold, DH
Josh Bell, 3B
5:11 p.m.: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Eric Patterson and Dustin Richardson are the first three to be added to the expanded September rosters. Others will follow when the process allows, such as Michael Bowden, who has to wait 10 days after being optioned to return.
Saltalamacchia and Paterson have been on the DL but both have been rehabbing with Pawtucket and able to play since even before then. Richardson returns to fill a void — fellow lefty Felix Doubront is not with the team due to neck pain.
3:26 p.m.: The Red Sox will be facing rookie Jake Arrieta for the first time ever. Here is the crew that will take on that task:
Marco Scutaro, SS
J.D. Drew, RF
Victor Martinez, C
David Ortiz, DH
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Jed Lowrie, 2B
Mike Lowell, 1B
Daniel Nava, LF
Ryan Kalish, CF
1:45 p.m.: As September begins and roster expand the Red Sox have lost lefty Felix Doubront, at least for the time being.
Doubront has been flown back to Boston to be examined after experiencing pain on the right side of his neck. Terry Francona told WEEI the news on Wednesday afternoon.
The 23-year-old's emergence has been a bright spot in the bullpen. But he gave up two home runs in an inning of work in Tuesday night's loss to Baltimore.
Francona did not give a timetable for Doubront's return.
8 a.m.: The Red Sox went 15-13 in August and lost 1 1/2 games in the wild card race. They will need a September for the ages to even think about such pursuits.
With losses in three straight games and four of their last five, the Sox send Jon Lester to the mound against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night.
Boston enters the contest seven games behind Tampa Bay, the AL wild card leader, with 30 games to play.
At the very least, Lester is a virtual shoo-in for a victory. He is 12-0 in 15 career starts against Baltimore. Rookie right-hander Jake Arrieta is on the mound for the O's, who had the best record in the AL East in August (17-11).
First pitch is 7:05 p.m.
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