Red Sox Live Blog: John Lackey, 13-Hit Attack Fuel 7-4 Victory Over Mariners

Red Sox Live Blog: John Lackey, 13-Hit Attack Fuel 7-4 Victory Over Mariners

Postgame, Red Sox 7-4: Look for more on John Lackey and the team’s seventh-inning success on the site in a bit.

We’ll leave you with a few brief words from John Lackey, when asked about not only getting the starting nod but getting against a guy like Felix Hernandez.

“It shows they believe in me much more than they did in the past,” Reddick said. “It gives me that much more confidence.”

Reddick was not a giant factor in this one, going 1-for-4 and making a few running grabs in right, but he has been a fixture in a lineup that continues to do damage. After a couple of “down” days for the offense in Baltimore, there were 13 hits tonight. If not for the four double plays, the score could’ve been lopsided.

Josh Beckett is one guy who has not seen much of that run support. He goes Saturday night opposite Blake Beavan in a 7:10 start. See you then.

Final, Red Sox 7-4: Jonathan Papelbon has few issues in the ninth, although he did have to pounce on an Ichiro Suzuki bunt attempt to start the 1-2-3 inning.

That’s the 22nd save in 23 chances for Papelbon.

The Red Sox are 14-3 in July and have reached 60 wins faster (in 97 games) than in any season since 1979 (95 games).

Headed down to hear from the fellas. Sit tight, will ya?

End 8th, Red Sox 7-4: About 30 minutes ago we figured Jonathan Papelbon could rest easy. Instead, here he comes in search of his second save since the All-Star break.

Papelbon is 2-0 with 10 saves and a 0-47 ERA against Seattle. He will face the top of the order.

Mid 8th, Red Sox 7-4: Daniel Bard gets his man on a soft liner to right.

That runs the scoreless streak to 23 innings, matching Schiraldi.

So good, so good….ugh.

9:47 p.m.: Daniel Bard got to sit down in the bullpen after the Red Sox scored five times in the bottom of the seventh.

He has to get back up and now come into the game after Franklin Morales failed to do his job.

Morales allowed two to reach before serving up a three-run bomb to Mike Carp. That cut the lead to 7-4, and the Mariners now have the tying run on deck after a Jack Cust double chases Morales.

Bard carries in a scoreless streak of 22 2/3 innings, the longest by a Sox reliever since Calvin Schiraldi in 1986.

End 7th, Red Sox 7-1: After we last left you, Kevin Youkilis doubled to left to score Dustin Pedroia, but the Mariners threw the ball around once getting it back into the infield, allowing Adrian Gonzalez to score as well and Youkilis to move up to third.

David Ortiz then lined a shot into center to score the innings’ fifth run.

Boston has outscored opponents 90-32 in the seventh inning this year.

The rally allowed Daniel Bard to sit down. Save him for another day. Franklin Morales has come in to work the eighth.

The line on John Lackey: 7 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K.

Also, if you haven’t wished my sister Maria a happy birthday, shame on you.

9:22 p.m.: After the Red Sox loaded the bases with one out and Adrian Gonzalez stepped to the plate, we were all thinking it.

Would the AL leader in GIDPs ground into the fifth of the night for the Red Sox?

When he chopped one over the mound, we moved to the edge of our seats. Would it get through? Would shortstop Brendan Ryan corral it at the bag and throw to first?

What drama.

The ball scampers through, scoring two runs and finishing the night for Felix Hernandez. Jeff Gray is on with runners on the corners, two outs and trailing 4-1.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 2-1: John Lackey struck out the sixth and seventh batters he faced, then went 18 straight without a K before striking out two in a row to begin the seventh.

With two outs, Ichiro Suzuki blooped a double down the left-field line to get the tying run in scoring position. As is so often the case for Eric Wedge’s team, that run did not come in.

Seattle is now batting .173 (60-for-347) with two outs and runners in scoring position. Yikes.

End 6th, Red Sox 2-1: The Red Sox have hit into four double plays after Carl Crawford adds to the list in the sixth.

That’s two shy of the club record. Of course, if Seattle never scores, the Sox would have to do it in each of their next two ups to tie. And me thinks Seattle might have a hard time scoring. Their ineptitude offensively becomes otherworldly when runners are on.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 2-1: Since his implosion against Toronto here at Fenway on July 4, John Lackey has given up four earned runs in 18 1/3 innings.

You’re tempted to put an asterisk against anything that takes place against Seattle, but he’s done just fine tonight.

All seven of the M’s hits have been singles, and Lackey has not walked a batter.

End 5th, Red Sox 2-1: If the Mariners come back and win this game, the story will be the double plays.

Boston has hit into three already. One ended the second after the first two men reached. The second spoiled an identical two-on, one-out situation in the third.

And now Kevin Youkilis just grounded into one with the bases loaded.

The Sox have had 10 men reach against Felix Hernandez. Not too much to show for it.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 2-1: John Lackey works around a pair of singles in the fifth. He finishes the frame at 71 pitches.

Felix Hernandez takes the hill with a pitch count of….you guessed it, 71.

End 4th, Red Sox 2-1: Not to be outdone by his counterpart in center field, Greg Halman matches Jacoby Ellsbury with a nice grab to end an inning.

Halman raced back on a two-out smash off the bat of Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He got turned the wrong way initially, but recovered to snag it just before crashing into the wall some 400 feet from home plate.

That ends the first 1-2-3 inning for Felix Hernandez.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 2-1: It’s Jacoby Ellsbury’s world and the rest of you are all squirrels tr….oh, we did that already.

Well, it’s still true.

After John Lackey allows a two-out single and then throws a wild pitch to allow the runner to move up, Mike Carp hammers a shot to straightaway center that Ellsbury tracks down on the track with a fully extended grab over his head.

Ellsbury has played a fantastic center field this year to go along with his production at the plate.

End 3rd, Red Sox 2-1: It’s Jacoby Ellsbury’s world and the rest of you are all squirrels trying to get a nut. Remember when Stu Scott use to say that? Remember how annoyed you used to get?

Good times.

Anyway, it’s true. Ellsbury is owning things of late. He just smacked a Felix Hernandez offering over the wall in right for his 16th home run and third in two games.

It’s clearly not a top-notch night for Hernandez. He has allowed six hits and also issued his first walk of the game with two outs in the third. A really nice double play turned by shortstop Brendan Ryan helped Hernandez escape more trouble in the third. The M’s also turned one in the second.

Mid 3rd, 1-1: Seven straight set down now by John Lackey, and the Seattle offense is looking more like the Seattle offense.

Heat shouldn’t be too much of an issue with these two big, strong right-handers, but we’ll certainly keep our eye on pitch counts and the like.

Lackey is at 44 through three.

End 2nd 1-1: The Red Sox start the second with two singles, one a liner to left by Carl Crawford and the next an infield one by Josh Reddick that had him sliding head-first at first base.

That’s when Felix Hernandez, having given up singles to four of the last six hitters, buckled down. He struck out Jarrod Saltalamacchia and then got Marco Scutaro to hit into a 4-6-3 double play.

Crawford is 5-for-13 (.385) with two steals, two runs and two RBIs since returning from the DL.

Mid 2nd, 1-1: Much better results in the second for John Lackey. He strikes out Mike Carp as part of a 1-2-3 inning.

Just for perspective, that’s a 1-2-3 inning against Mike Carp, Jack Cust and Greg Halman.

Nice play by Kevin Youkilis to get Halman for the final out, ranging deep toward the line and making a long throw to first.

End 1st, 1-1: There are a handful of guys with some relatively solid numbers against Felix Hernandez.

Dustin Pedroia is now 7-for-23 (.304) against him after a one-out single in the first.

Pedroia was in motion when Adrian Gonzalez chopped to third, getting into scoring position with two outs. Gonzalez falls to 9-for-31 (.290) in his encounters with Hernandez.

Kevin Youkilis then stepped up. After a passed ball allowed Pedroia to scamper to third like the muddy chicken that he is, Youkilis smacked a single to left. He is now 5-for-16 (.313) off Hernandez.

The passed ball was huge. Singles to left field at Fenway do not always score runners from second, and it’s doubtful Pedroia would’ve made it.

Mid 1st, Mariners 1-0: If you’ve lost 12 straight and you have an offense like Seattle does, you have to take advantage of every single opportunity you get.

We referenced that mindset in our award-winning 6:32 post, which will be made into a movie soon. Simply put, the Mariners will try everything to get to John Lackey tonight, and it was evident right off the bat.

Ichiro Suzuki defined aggressiveness with a first-pitch single to center, a second-pitch steal of second base and a third-pitch steal of third. One out later, Ichiro scored the game’s first run on a single by Dustin Ackley.

Lackey nearly got out the inning on a double play, but Miguel Olivo barely beat the relay to first. That did not allow Seattle to score any more runs, but it did force Lackey to throw several more pitches. He had an 0-2 count on Adam Kennedy before it became 3-2 and Kennedy knocked a single into right.

With runners on the corners, Lackey finished off Justin Smoak with a changeup.

Lackey threw 22 pitches.

7:12 p.m.: John Lackey’s first pitch is knocked into center for a single by Ichiro Suzuki. That begins a steamy night in the park.

6:32 p.m.: The Red Sox have the right guys on the mound tonight and tomorrow. Big Texans like John Lackey and Josh Beckett can handle heat like this.

It’s an interesting night for Lackey (aren’t they all?).

Facing a team like the Mariners, who have scored three runs or less in 12 of their last 16 games, he has an excellent shot at putting together a third straight solid start.

However, with Felix Hernandez on the other end, Lackey’s margin for error is so small. There have been some starts at home that have gone south in a hurry when the pressure mounts. Expect Seattle to do all it can with its opportunities (steal, hit-and-run, etc.) and for there to be some stress on Lackey, whose ERA at home is 7.68.

Lackey limited the M’s to two runs in six innings April 30 at Fenway, but was the losing pitcher as Boston failed to score against Doug Fister and two relievers. But that was Doug Fister, not Felix Hernandez, who is 3-0 with a 1.49 ERA in five career starts in Boston.

This could be a nail-biting kind of night for Lackey, and the 38,000 watching to see how he responds.

5:17 p.m.: If you follow baseball in just a casual way, you know that Seattle has a miserable offense. Just miserable.

How miserable? This miserable:

  • The M’s .223 average is not only the worst in the majors, it’s not even close. The Padres are next up with a .234 mark. That’s a HUGE gap.
  • The same could be said for runs scored. Seattle is last at 319, or about 3.3 a game. San Diego is 29th at 344.
  • The Mariners are the only team in baseball with an on-base percentage lower than .300. Theirs is .288, a full 15 percentage points below the Pads.
  • Seattle is last in slugging, homers, is hitting .175 with two outs and runners in scoring position (also dead last).
  • The M’s cleanup hitters are batting .187 with five home runs and an OPS of .546.

We could go on. In the interest of brevity, let’s just give you the crew that will try to buck those trandes against John Lackey:

Ichiro Suzuki, RF
Brendan Ryan, SS
Dustin Ackley, 2B
Miguel Olivo, C
Adam Kennedy, 3B
Justin Smoak, 1B
Mike Carp, LF
Jack Cust, DH
Greg Halman, CF

Ichiro is 28-for-94 (.298) with 16 strikeouts against Lackey. Olivo is 3-for-23 (.130) with 10 strikeouts. The one to watch for is Cust, who is 10-for-31 (.323) with three homers vs. the righty.

Of course, Cust is just one of the many M’s with miserable (there’s that word again) numbers this year. He enters batting .207 with three home runs in 63 games.

4:37 p.m.: As we arrived, Clay Buchholz was loosening up in right field, presumably for a much-anticipated bullpen session.

But it never came.

Buchholz’s trip to the mound, a big hurdle in his effort to return from a back injury, was pushed back to either Sunday or Monday.

Buchholz said he was still feeling some “stuff” after what amounted to a long toss session, so he remains in a bit of a holding pattern.

We will have more on Buchholz on the site in a bit.

In other news, Terry Francona said he talked ot J.D. Drew last night and informed him that Josh Reddick would be starting in right field. Francona said Drew was understanding. It has to be a difficult moment for a veteran to go through a time like this where one struggles and then sees a youngster steal playing time, but the recent results speak for themself.

“It’s kind of hard not to play him,” Francona said of Reddick. “It’s a little bit like Lowrie earlier in the season, I think Josh deserves to play. He’s given us such a lift in our lineup.”

Francona stressed that this is not a concrete switch, but has no other choice right now than to play Reddick.

“We want to win games. I think at the moment, Red gives us a better chance.”

3:10 p.m.: Greetings from Fenway Park, where the contigent of Japanese media following Ichiro Suzuke has bumped us to the third row. Because it places me right below a cool blower, I couldn’t be happier.

The Red Sox have just posted their lineup. Josh Reddick gets the nod in right for the second straight day, and David Ortiz is back from his suspension. Those two, plus seven more (2+7=9) get to face Felix Hernandez.

Here is a look at the local nine:

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Kevin Youkilis, 3B
David Ortiz, DH
Carl Crawford, LF
Josh Reddick, RF
Jarrod Saltamacchia, C
Marco Scutaro, SS

8 a.m.: When the Red Sox return home Friday for seven straight games, they will face two immediate obstacles.

Not only will there be a continuation of an intense heat wave, but the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner will be on the mound for the opposing Seattle Mariners.

Felix Hernandez, who is 4-1 with a 2.87 ERA in his career against Boston, starts for the reeling Mariners, who have dropped 12 in a row. Hernandez is winless in his last four starts, but sports a solid 3.26 ERA and is second in the AL in strikeouts.

John Lackey is on the mound for the Red Sox. With an ERA more than twice that of Hernandez’s, Lackey has one less win. He is 2-0 with a 2.19 ERA in his last two starts.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m., when temperatures may still be in the mid-90s. Tune to NESN’s pregame at 5:30, which will feature an appearance by Mike Lowell.

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