Red Sox 4, Orioles 7: Lackey's struggles continue

Jim Rogash

John Lackey struggled, and while the Red Sox offense flared up in the fourth, it was never to be seen again.

The Red Sox will have to settle for a split of their Saturday doubleheader after John Lackey surrendered five runs in five innings of work, with some early Boston offense dying out late, allowing the Orioles to take a 7-4 win.

While five runs in five innings is certainly not what you want to see from your starter, this was an odd sort of outing for John Lackey. Because while he was guilty of giving up 10 hits, including two homers, he was also the author of some eleven strikeouts one the night.

The two homers are no great mystery. Lackey made an emminently hittable pitch to Nick Hundley in the fourth, and paid for it with a two-run shot over the high wall in center field. The pitch Nelson Cruz took over the Monster in the very next frame was not nearly so great a mistake, but when you throw a hitter like Cruz a fastball down-and-in, occasionally you're going to get burned.

It's not the way you'd expect Lackey to give up runs on a night like tonight. He spent the entire game pitching outside, and by-and-large it worked. But he couldn't throw every pitch on the outside corner, and the Orioles did an inordinate amount of damage early on for the number of really vulnerable pitches they saw. Otherwise, they were mostly cuing their hits into the opposite field--not exactly the sort of setup that leads to explosive homers like those.

Then, in the sixth, with Lackey's pitch count running high, the Orioles put together another pair of baserunners on a single and a walk, and his night was over. Burke Badenhop was unable to get the two outs Lackey needed, and with the defense once again falling to shambles in the field, the Orioles finished the sixth with four more runs.

Had Boston's offense provided a consistent attack tonight, maybe that lead would have been vulnerable. Instead, though, it was a single fourth-inning flash-in-the-pan. For the second time today, Stephen Drew managed the loudest hit, blasting his second homer of the day to right field. At the time, that tied the game, leaving Brock Holt and Daniel Nava's ensuing RBI hits good for a 4-2 lead.

But that was it for Boston. David Ortiz doubled to lead off the fifth, and that was the last baserunner they saw all day. Where Ubaldo Jimenez had walked six, allowed five hits, and surrendered four runs, the bullpen got the Orioles 16 outs, 15 of them coming one after the other from the fifth inning on. In the end, it was just another disappearing act from the Red Sox, like so many others we've already seen this year.

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