Red Sox Live Blog: Alfredo Aceves Protects 4-3 Victory As Bullpen Shines in the Clutch

by NESN Staff

June 16, 2012

Red Sox Live Blog: Alfredo Aceves Protects 4-3 Victory As Bullpen Shines in the Clutch

Final, Red Sox 4-3: For the most part, Jon Lester was absolutely dominant in this start.

He ran out of gas in the seventh and made things pretty close, allowing a three-run home run. But the bullpen continued to shine, protecting the lead all the way until the end.

The offense wasn't quite potent, but Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Scott Podsednik led the way with strong at-bats. Will Middlebrooks got into the action as well with an RBI.

Mid 9th, Red Sox 4-3: Mike Aviles led off with a single, but the rest of the Red Sox offense was dormant.

Dustin Pedroia continued his struggles and, if the game finishes in the ninth, will end up with an 0-for-5 game.

Alfredo Aceves will now march in and attempt to lock the door and throw away the key.

End 8th, Red Sox 4-3: That's seven straight scoreless appearances for Red Sox reliever Vicente Padilla.

He racked up two strikeouts and got a fly out to bail the team out. Before the inning, Adrian Gonzalez moved back to first base while Daniel Nava took over in left field.

More than likely, it'll fall down to Alfredo Aceves in the ninth.

Mid 8th, Red Sox 4-3: Ryan Sweeney popped out to end the inning and he's been cooling off as of late.

His average has dipped below .300 and he was rung up on two strikeouts, a multiple strikeout game isn't typical with him.

But that's what happens when the team's offense is looking to break out of a slump.

End 7th, Red Sox 4-3: The pressure is on the Red Sox bullpen to maintain this lead moving forward.

After recording two outs in the seventh, Lester was pulled in favor of Scott Atchison. Atchison may get another inning in the eight to bridge the gap for Alfredo Aceves.

9:39 p.m.: The Red Sox didn't have anyone warming up in the bullpen for awhile in the seventh.

But Jon Lester ran into trouble and with one out, he surrendered a three-run shot to Cubs hitter Luis Valbuena, who hit his first homer of the season.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 4-0: What else can you say about Scott Podednik?

He drove in Mike Aviles, who ripped a leadoff double, to continue to provide strong offense. The veteran outfielder almost contemplated retirement when he was toiling away in Triple-A.

Now, look where he is.

End 6th, Red Sox 3-0: Maybe the inconsistent playing time is having an impact on Middlebrooks' defense.

He's still developing as a defender at third and misplayed a grounder from Starlin Castro — even though he wasn't charged with an error.

Then in the next at-bat, Middlebrooks bobbled Alfonso Soriano's liner. Fortunately due to Soriano's laziness out of the box, Middlebrooks threw him out.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 3-0: Give Will Middlebrooks some credit. Even though he's been forced to split playing time with Kevin Youkilis, he's handled it well.

After sitting out the opener, Middlebrooks responded with an RBI single, driving in David Ortiz to add to the lead.

He did it off Randy Wells, who was inserted after Samardzija exceeded his pitch count.

End 5th, Red Sox 2-0: With the uncertainty of Franklin Morales making his first start on Sunday — in spot start duty for Josh Beckett — Jon Lester is answering the ball.

He appears poised for a long outing that will alleviate the bullpen and help them prepare for Sunday in case a bullpen-by-committee is necessary.

Lester just struck out three batters in the fifth.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 2-0: Since allowing a homer to Saltalamacchia, Jeff Samardzija turned into a strikeout machine.

He struck out five straight batters before getting Scott Podsednik to ground out to end the fifth inning.

That's the right way to bounce back after giving up a long ball.

End 4th, Red Sox 2-0: Jarrod Saltalamacchia doesn't just do it with his offense. He sprinkled in some defense, too.

He fired a pinpoint throw to second base to get Starlin Castro out on an attempted steal. Castro only got one because of Will Middlebrooks' throwing error.

But Lester only needed to face three batters in this one and is firing well.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 2-0: Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine keeps making some crafty decisions.

He slotted Jarrod Saltalamacchia in cleanup — it was the catcher's first time hitting there — and he responded with a two-run bomb to give the Sox a leg up.

This time David Ortiz crossed home plate without any problems. Ortiz keyed the sequence with a double beforehand.

End 3rd, 0-0: In three innings, Jon Lester has been on fire. And it took his just 10 pitches to make quick work of the Cubs order.

His pitching counterpart, Jeff Samardzija, grounded out and couldn't put the pressure.

But Lester also fanned Reed Johnson on just three pitches. That's a very good sign for the Red Sox right now.

Mid 3rd, 0-0: Jon Lester's hitless drought continues. He grounded out in the third and still hasn't tallied a hit in his career.

Obviously, the Red Sox aren't leaning on Lester for offense and need him for pitching. But these are some opportunities to help your cause in interleague play.

Even Daisuke Matsuzaka has two career hits to his name.

End 2nd, 0-0: Through two innings, Lester has kept it efficient and effective.

He's tossed 19 pitches and has thrown two spotless innings. His four-seamers have induced some ground balls, giving Mike Aviles some work at short.

Lester also punched out Joe Mather with the fastball and cutter combination.

Mid 2nd, 0-0: For those of you who don't know, Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija was a stud tight end for Notre Dame in college.

With Brady Quinn throwing, Samardzija was also a star and had a future in the NFL, but elected to pursue his baseball dreams (somewhat like Will Middlebrooks) and is getting a chance to compete in the Cubs rotation.

He dialed it up in this inning, getting Ryan Sweeney out on a strikeout.

End 1st, 0-0: Dustin Pedroia continues to add to his web gems at second base this season.

After Starlin Castro hammered a liner that appeared destined for a hit, Pedroia sprawled and made a diving catch. Might be one of his best this season.

The torn adductor muscle in his thumb was never an issue when it came to defense.

Mid 1st, 0-0: David Ortiz tried to show off his wheels and burst from first to home on Saltalamacchia's hit, but he was nailed at the plate.

It looked like he may have been peaking over his shoulder a little too much and it could've slowed him down.

It's a good sign that Ortiz had a chance to score, but mark that down as another missed opportunity.

5 p.m.: Here are the lineups.

Red Sox
Scott Podsednik, LF 
Dustin Pedroia, 2B 
David Ortiz, 1B  
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Adrian Gonzalez, RF  
Ryan Sweeney, CF
Mike Aviles, SS
Jon Lester, P

Cubs
Reed Johnson, RF   
Darwin Barney, 2B
Starlin Castro, SS  
Alfonso Soriano, LF
Jeff Baker, 1B
Joe Mather, CF
Welington Castillo, C 
Luis Valbuena, 3B
Jeff Samardzija, P 

8 a.m. ET: Jon Lester will be making his first career start at Wrigley Field for the Red Sox (31-33) against the Cubs (22-41). He'll hope to maintain his success from his last start, when he struck out nine batters and yielded three runs through seven innings. In his last three outings, Lester hasn't received a decision for the Red Sox, but has tallied a 4.12 ERA.

Lester will hope to get run support from the Red Sox, who were blanked in Friday's game. For the month of June, the Red Sox have only scored more than five runs on just two occasions. Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija, who is 5-4 with a 3.96 ERA, will have a crack at the Sox lineup. The right-hander served up a season-high eight runs over 3 2/3 innings.

For more details, follow NESN.com's live blog. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on FOX.

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