Red Sox capitalize on walks to clip Jays
Six free passes in four-run second help offset Lackey start
BOSTON -- After a shaky second inning for both starting pitchers, the Red Sox held on for a 7-6 win over the Blue Jays in front of 37,332 at Fenway Park on Monday night.
Down by two runs in the second, the Blue Jays sent nine batters to the plate, scoring four runs on four hits and two walks. Not to be outdone, the Red Sox sent 10 batters to the plate in their half of the inning, scoring four runs on one hit and six walks.
Boston took advantage of Toronto starter Brandon Morrow's lack of command, touching him up for six runs on three hits and six walks, driving him from the game after just 1 2/3 innings. Morrow threw 67 pitches, 32 for strikes. Josh Roenicke relieved Morrow and walked his first batter, Adrian Beltre, on four pitches. It was the sixth walk of the inning.
"Something to be said for patience," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "I know Morrow was having a tough time commanding, but we didn't go out of the zone and we got some runs because of it. He's got a tremendous arm. If you leave the zone, it could make for a long night."
The Sox are 4-0 against the Jays this season after sweeping three games in Toronto last month. Three of the four games were decided by one run, the other by two runs.
John Lackey earned the win, improving to 4-1, while raising his ERA from 3.89 to 4.60. He had his own struggles in the wild second inning, allowing six consecutive baserunners -- on two walks and four hits -- before settling down.
"He was really struggling to find his command," Francona said. "To his credit, he reeled it back in. He reeled it in and he competed without his best stuff tonight and got us deep enough to where the guys in the bullpen could do their jobs, and they did it well."
Lackey went six innings, giving up six runs on eight hits and three walks, while tying his season high with six strikeouts.
"They got a good offense," Lackey said. "You got to give them some credit. Obviously, I wasn't locating like I can. But you got to give a little credit to them, as well."
After the second inning, the only further damage Lackey allowed was a two-run homer to Jose Bautista in the fifth inning, scoring Alex Gonzalez, who had singled.
"[Pitching coach] John [Farrell] and I definitely talked after the second inning and made an adjustment," Lackey said. "I felt like I threw the ball pretty good after that, just obviously the one bad pitch to Bautista for the homer. But tonight, the boys took care of me, man. It's all about the bullpen and the offense tonight. We won kind of despite me."
The outing was Lackey's shortest since April 19, when he lasted just 3 1/3 innings against the Rays. The first two innings took more than hour. But Lackey said he was not affected by the wait, as his team scored six runs in the those frames.
"I needed them all, man. No, you'll never hear me complain about runs," Lackey said. "I'll wait all night as long as they want to hit. I guess that's one of the good things about going third [in the rotation]. I didn't win a whole lot of these going first."
The six runs he allowed to the Blue Jays were the second most he's allowed this season, under the eight he gave up to the Rays on April 19.
"Things happened in a hurry [in the second inning]," said catcher Victor Martinez. "It just happened. They did put some good swings on the ball. But he settled down, keeping us in the game, and overall, I think he did a great job."
Hideki Okajima, Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon each pitched an inning of scoreless relief.
"That's how it's supposed to go," Bard said. "I think that's how they script it out: hand the bullpen a lead and then have us shut them down. We're proud of it, and hopefully we can keep it rolling."
Okajima entered in the seventh, needing just six pitches to record three groundouts. Bard came in for the eighth, facing four batters, allowing one walk. And Papelbon pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, including a strikeout of leadoff hitter Fred Lewis on three pitches, to record his ninth save in as many opportunities.
"Because Lackey got to where he did, we were able to have who we want face who they did, and they did a very good job," Francona said. "Oki came in and was real efficient. They did a really good job."
"They all came out great," Martinez said. "Okajima, Bard and Papelbon, they pitched ahead in the count and they all came out all right."
Jonathan Van Every, pressed into service just before game time when J.D. Drew was scratched with vertigo, went 1-for-2 with a walk and made an eighth-inning catch on John Buck's foul popup against the wall in short right field.
"You have to be ready for anything -- a late scratch or you have to pitch an inning to [save] the bullpen," said Van Every, who pitched an inning Saturday against the Yankees. "You never know, so you have to be prepared.
"I had a good bead on [on Buck's fly ball]. The wind took it a little farther than I'd hoped. I had to reach into somebody's soft drink to get it. The drink probably got crushed."
In the top of the second, Alex Gonzalez hit a fly high off Fenway's left-field wall. The play, initially ruled a double, was taken under review, the first time this season a play has been reviewed at Fenway. But the call on the field stood.
Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.