Red Sox 6, Astros 1: John Lackey comes back strong, Red Sox complete sweep

Jim Rogash

John Lackey made a triumphant return to action Sunday afternoon, throwing six strong innings of one-run ball as the Red Sox swept the Houston Astros out of Fenway Park.

The Red Sox completed a four-game sweep of the Houston Astros with a 6-1 win, putting up five runs on Bud Norris and an unimpressive Houston defense and getting six strong innings from John Lackey.

Much like in Saturday night's game, it was not readily apparent that the Sox' starter would be able to give them a decent outing. While Lackey picked up the first two outs easily enough, back-to-back walks to Jason Castro and Carlos Pena raised a warning flag, and a Ronny Cedeno RBI single to center full-on sounded the alarm. Lackey would get a fly ball to escape the inning, but the damage had been done.

Bud Norris, however, would remain untouched no longer than Lackey. Daniel Nava gave the Red Sox their first hit of the game with a double into the left field corner. After a walk from Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz was the one to make it one-a-piece, hitting a line drive into center to score Nava and tie the game. Only a bases loaded ground out from Jarrod Saltalamacchia allowed Norris to escape the inning.

After giving up a single to Matt Dominguez to start the inning, John Lackey would get on a much-needed roll, retiring Astro after Astro. It wouldn't be until the sixth inning that the Astros got so much as another baserunner.

The Sox, on the other hand, would get back to work in the fourth. Singles from Mike Carp and Jarrod Saltalamacchia would set up Stephen Drew with a chance to come through with two outs. He responded by ripping a line drive into the right field corner, scoring both men and motoring into third with a triple. While Jacoby Ellsbury would ground out behind him, ending the inning, the Sox rallied again in the bottom of the sixth, aided by an errant throw to first that allowed Daniel Nava to reach base to start the inning. Dustin Pedroia quickly scored him with a double, and then crossed the plate himself on a two-out double from Mike Carp.

The sixth inning would the only real chance for a comeback from the Astros, with John Lackey allowing three straight singles to load the bases with one out. With his day almost over, however, Lackey buckled down, striking out Fernando Martinez and then getting a routine ground ball to shortstop to end both the inning and his day with the Astros stuck on just the one run.

From there, it was just rudimentary mop-up for the Red Sox. They grabbed another run in the bottom of the seventh on a fly ball from David Ortiz, and Daniel Nava made a tremendous diving catch in right field to pick up the third out in the ninth inning.

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