BOSTON -- If the Boston Red Sox are going to maintain their lead in the American League East and perhaps make a push to a division title, somebody is going to have to step up and play the role of stopper.
John Lackey auditioned for that role on Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park, and stated his case in a 6-1 win over the New York Yankees. The victory ended a three-game Boston losing streak.
And after the game Red Sox manager John Farrell didn’t need a lot of words to describe Lackey’s outing.
"He set the tone for us today," the first-year Boston manager said.
"He came out and had some guys on and got out of tight situations," Sox shortstop Stephen Drew said. "He made great pitches today, and he’s been doing that for three or four starts. We just have nothing to show for it to help him out."
It was Lackey’s first win since he and Boston beat the Athletics 4-2 in Oakland on July 12. He was 0-4 with a no-decision in his last five starts, but the Red Sox were shut out in two of them, and scored only five runs combined in those four losses.
"It’s nice, that’s for sure," said Lackey, who is now 8-10. "We needed a win today, as a team more than anything. It’s nice to get.
"You can’t do a whole lot about [the win-loss record]. You just have to keep trying to throw good and give the team a chance to win."
The right-hander kept the Yankees in control for much of the afternoon. Of the 19 outs Lackey recorded, 14 of them were on ground balls. He did get some help from second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who had seven assists and started a 4-6-3 double play in the seventh inning.
And when Lackey hit Chris Stewart on a 1-2 count with two outs in the seventh, Farrell came out to lift his starter. As Craig Breslow trotted in from the mound, Lackey walked off the mound to a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 37,517.
Lackey gave up a run on six hits and three walks in 62Ž3 innings. He was the first of four Boston pitchers, and three relievers finished up with scoreless outings.
Pedroia fouled a ball off his left foot in the eighth inning and did not play the ninth. It was the same foot he broke in 2010. Farrell said after the game that he did not expect Pedroia to be out of the lineup.
For a while, Yankees pitcher Hiroki Kuroda matched Lackey. But a costly error opened the doors for a three-run fourth inning that put the Red Sox ahead for keeps.
David Ortiz, who blasted his 425th career home run in the seventh inning, led off the fourth with a ground rule double, one-hopping a ball into the right-field stands. He took third on Mike Carp’s single and Daniel Nava looked at strike three.
Kuroda then got Stephen Drew to ground to first. Lyle Overbay’s throw to second sailed over the head of shortstop Eduardo Nunez, and both Carp and Drew were safe. Ortiz scored and Drew got a run batted in. After Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out, Will Middlebrooks hit a ball that Robinson Cano fielded behind the bag at second, but could not make a play anywhere. It was scored an RBI single and Ellsbury followed with an RBI single to right, making it 3-0.
Lackey gave up a run on two hits in the fifth as Ichiro Suzuki’s groundout scored Lyle Overbay from third. Boston answered in the home half of the sixth on an RBI single by Saltalamacchia and an RBI double by Jacoby Ellsbury, who was 3 for 5 with two RBI.
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