John Lackey, David Ortiz Lead Red Sox Past Orioles


John Lackey, David Ortiz Lead Red Sox Past Orioles Postgame, Red Sox 6-1: The choo-choo will take the Red Sox down to New York on Thursday afternoon. It will be dress-up day for the rookies, so look for some classic footage of that humiliating exercise.

Once Boston arrives at Yankee Stadium it will be no worse than 6 1/2 games out in the wild card race and looking to do some damage to New York's bid for the A.L. East crown.

It's a different feeling to be playing spoiler but that's what it has come to after a 2-4 homestand.

We will be coming to you from Yankee Stadium all weekend long, so be sure to follow along. Friday features Josh Beckett and Andy Pettitte on the mound. First pitch is 7:05 p.m.

Final, Red Sox 6-1: It was a homestand that began with some promise. The Red Sox had won four straight and still mathematically controlled their own destiny in the wild card race, as remote as it was.

They drop four of six on the stretch to essentially fall out of it, but at least they head to New York with their chins up.

Back in a bit to finish it all up for you.

End 8th, Red Sox 6-1: Jonathan Papelbon gave up four runs in a non-save situation one night ago. He is jogging into a five-run game right now to try to make amends.

Papelbon had a week off before Tuesday's outing, during which he threw 19 pitches.

Mid 8th, Red Sox 6-1: It is a 99 mph fastball from Daniel Bard that gets Brian Roberts to end the top of the eighth. Bard threw 10 strikes and three balls and fanned two. So good, so good, so good.

The Yanks and Rays are in a rain delay in the third so we won't know how close the Sox are to elimination until a little later on. Entering the night Tampa Bay's magic number to clinch the wild card was six.

End 7th, Red Sox 6-1: Another solid night for Ryan Kalish. He has a single and a double in four at-bats and has scored once. He is stranded at third in the seventh.

Terry Francona said earlier Wednesday that Kalish might begin 2011 at Triple-A. A lot has to be figured out before those decisions are made but he certainly can hold his own at this level.

Daniel Bard has taken over for John Lackey, who goes exactly seven innings for the third time in his last four starts.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 6-1: That might do it for John Lackey. His 111th pitch of the night is lined to Mike Lowell for the third out of the seventh. Nobody is throwing for the Sox in the pen so maybe he will get one more. Who knows? Anyone?

End 6th, Red Sox 6-1: Adrian Beltre greeted David Hernandez with an RBI double to left, the fourth straight hit by the Red Sox to start the inning. John Lackey will have to really have a meltdown to remain in search of an elusive 13th win.

8:54 p.m.: David Ortiz has matched a season high for the fourth time with four RBIs with an RBI single that knocks Kevin Millwood out of the game. David Hernandez is on in relief with runners at the corners and no outs.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 4-1: In an eight-pitch at-bat to Ty Wigginton, John Lackey threw three cutters, two fastballs, one curveball and two sliders, the last of which freezes Wiggy on the inside corner to end the sixth.

Lackey is through six with a pitch count of 102. The Boston bullpen is stirring.

End 5th, Red Sox 4-1: Josh Reddick has three career home runs and all have come against Baltimore. He launches his first of 2010 into the seats in right on a fat changeup from Kevin Millwood.

Reddick seemed to fall off the radar a bit in the eyes of some onlookers after he got off to a poor start in 2010 that lasted almost three months. But he is a hitter. He told me before the game he just needs to curb his streakiness and will have some better results, maybe enough to stick with the big club if/when he gets here next year.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 3-1: The best thing your starter can do after you take the lead is put up a zero. John Lackey is able to do so in the fifth, despite a two-out single for Robert Andino, who is very happy to be playing baseball for a living.

End 4th, Red Sox 3-1: David Ortiz matches the Red Sox' offensive total for the entire series with one swing of the bat, hammering a 1-0 slider from Kevin Millwood into the bullpen for a three-run homer.

It is Ortiz's 31st home run. He is five RBIs shy of reaching 100 for the first time since 2007. He is also two homers shy of 350 for his career.

Mid 4th, Orioles 1-0: The first hit of the game is a single by Nick Markakis with one out in the top of the fourth. The second hit is an RBI double by Ty Wigginton with one out in the top of the fourth. That is the opposite of a pitcher "scattering" hits.

Markakis is 5-for-11 in the series.

End 3rd, 0-0: Kevin Millwood and John Lackey have combined to face the minimum 18 batters through the first three innings. Couple of old horses swapping zeroes out there.

Mid 3rd, 0-0: John Lackey is through the first nine hitters untouched and having thrown just 43 pitches.

Lackey's ERA in innings 1-3 this year is 3.80 (entering Wednesday). It is 5.83 in the fourth and 6.43 in the fifth. Hold off a bit before you begin sentences with "I was there the night John Lackey…."

End 2nd, 0-0: The Orioles probably should've had a double play at one point in the second when Ty Wigginton hesitated at first base. They got a sure one when Mike Lowell tapped one to third to end the inning.

Mid 2nd, 0-0: The pitching matchups in New York feature Josh Beckett and Andy Pettitte in the opener, followed by Jon Lester (going for his 19th win) against rookie Ivan Nova. The finale has Daisuke Matsuzaka against Phil Hughes in a Sunday night game that could see plenty of runs scored.

End 1st, 0-0: Kevin Millwood entered with a 2.90 ERA and a 4-1 record at Fenway Park. He strikes out two in the bottom half of a lightning-quick first inning. It's been a difficult year for him (in a contract year, no less) but he has been much better of late.

Mid 1st, 0-0: We mentioned some of John Lackey's bad numbers in the previous post. Well, he has some pretty good ones against the Orioles.

Lackey is 6-3 with a 2.66 ERA in his last 12 starts against Baltimore. He starts this one off with a perfect first.

6:46 p.m.: John Lackey has never lost five starts in a row. He had never lost four in a row before his previous outing, during which he was ineffective in an 11-9 loss to Toronto.

Once in his career, back in 2004, Lackey dropped four straight decisions but it came over the course of five outings.

This current slide has been a mixed bag. At times he has been hit hard but there were two starts in which he pitched very well and a lack of run support throughout.

With just three full innings in this one Lackey will again take over the team lead in innings pitched. He is the first to make 31 starts. He needs one quality start to tie Jon Lester for the team lead with 19. But the Sox are just 14-16 in Lackey's 30 outings. The team is 61-38 when the other four members of the current rotation start.

Here is the Baltimore lineup against Lackey:

Brian Roberts, 2B
Nick Markakis, RF
Ty Wigginton, 1B
Luke Scott, DH
Matt Wieters, C
Adam Jones, CF
Felix Pie, LF
Robert Andino, 3B
Cesar Izturis, SS

5:39 p.m.: For a change the Red Sox will be taking a train to New York on Thursday afternoon. With a day off and a series in the Bronx they can take their time.

"Kind of like that," Terry Francona said.

The vibe on that train will depend a bit on what happens Wednesday night. Heading to play the Yankees after a 1-5 homestand could result in a spiral. If the Sox can salvage something from an otherwise poor showing here at Fenway perhaps it will make it easier to play spoiler to the Yanks.

Not a lot of pregame news here to update you on. Felix Doubront was expected to throw from 60 feet this afternoon. We didn't see that and didn't get an update.

Francona was asked about Jonathan Papelbon and what he has seen from his closer, who gave up four runs in a non-save situation Tuesday night. To Francona it mostly comes down to the walks.

"Whether you call them hiccups or inconsistencies, the walks are up, which has made his innings harder," Francona said. "The velocity is still good. His split has come and gone from time to time, which I think has made his work harder. But I don't think there's anything out there that says he can't do it."

Papelbon has walked 24 in 62 innings. That matches a career high set last year in 68 innings. He said after Tuesday's debacle that he feels stronger this year than he ever has, which may be one reason why the command has come and gone.

The 29-year-old has thrown his fastball at a greater velocity than last year and his split has averaged 90.1 mph, the highest mark of his career. At times he has been too strong and paid the price.

"I think what is different with Pap, his command of his fastball for a while there was phenomenal," Francona added. "It was as good as anyone in the game. That's why his numbers were so miniscule. Not only did he not walk people, he didn't get to ball three very much. That's changed a little bit. It's made him have to work harder."

Francona added that he used to see Curt Schilling's splitter come and go as well, and it always made Schilling have to toil a bit. With a more limited arsenal than a guy like Schilling it becomes even harder.

"I think the split has the ability to come and go. With a starter they maybe have the ability to go to a third pitch. A closer…you'll see Pap throw an occasional slider but that's not something he needs to be featuring."

3:22 p.m.: As promised, here is the batting order for Boston:

Ryan Kalish, CF
J.D. Drew, RF
Victor Martinez, C
David Ortiz, DH
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Mike Lowell, 1B
Bill Hall, 2B
Josh Reddick, LF
Yamaico Navarro, SS

3:15 p.m.: Greetings from Fenway Park, where I just saw Victor Martinez walking in with his son. As he passed a peanut vendor there were two men arguing as to whether that was actually Victor Martinez or not.

It was, but one of the two remained unconvinced.

Nothing too important with that story, just found it funny. 

We should have the lineups to you in a bit. Just copying them down right now.

8 a.m.: The Red Sox will try to end an otherwise awful homestand on a positive note when they host the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night.

The O's will be looking for a rare three-game sweep in Fenway Park, something they haven't done since 1994. They took Tuesday's meeting 9-1, scoring all of their runs from the sixth inning on.

John Lackey, who opened the 1-4 homestand with a poor performance vs. Toronto, will start for Boston. Kevin Millwood, just 3-15 this year, goes for Baltimore.

First pitch is 7:10 p.m.

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