The Red Sox needed this game.
John Lackey, struggling a bit over the past month, was excellent, if unorthodox in how he went about it. He didn't strike batters out, though he made the best of his one by catching Alex Rodriguez looking in the fourth. What he did do was get ground ball after ground ball after ground ball--fourteen of them resulting in outs--handling a good few himself, and letting Dustin Pedroia do a ton of good work on the rest.
The result of this was one run in 6.2 innings of work, with even the one being something of a positive. After the lineup had given Lackey a three-run lead to work with, the Yankees led off the fifth with a Lyle Overbay single and Chris Stewart ground-rule double. It had every sign of being a disaster inning that ended in a tie or worse. Instead, Lackey got three more ground balls, one to himself to hold the baserunners, and two to Pedroia to end the inning with only one run coming in.
As for that three-run lead, well, it came as much due to the Yankees' mistakes and dumb luck as the Red Sox' good hitting. David Ortiz did sting a double to lead off the top of the fourth, but the single off the bat of Mike Carp which moved Ortiz to third was more of the seeing-eye variety. From there, the Yankees took over. A ground ball to first from Stephen Drew left Lyle Overbay with two options: try to get Ortiz at home, or start the double play. His choice--the double play--was debatable to begin with, but the real disaster came from the high throw which prevented the Yankees from recording either out.
The Sox would arguably get further help from Tim Welke, who owed them for an awful strike three called on Mike Carp in Friday night's game. Once again Carp was at the center of attention, but this time benefited, being called safe at third on a double-steal. Said double-steal set up Will Middlebrooks to drive in a run even on an infield single to Robinson Cano. If the out mattered, however, the double steal likely did not, with Jacoby Ellsbury knocking in the third run of the frame with a line drive to right.
The other three runs the Sox put together were more convincing, with Ellsbury picking up another hard hit in the sixth along with Daniel Nava and Jarrod Saltalamacchia to bring home two more. And then there was Adam Warren giving up David Ortiz' 24th homer of the season, this one to dead center field.
If there was still drama to follow, it was not the sort which put the result in doubt. Instead, it involved Dustin Pedroia fouling a ball hard off of his foot and leaving the game after the eighth inning. There's already good news on that front, though, as scans have apparently come back negative, leaving the game itself entirely positive. Just a well-played game of baseball by a Red Sox team that really, really needed one.