April 21, 2018
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Lackey helps Red Sox end losing streak

Greg M. Cooper | USA Today Sports
Greg M. Cooper | USA Today Sports
Boston Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster (46) welcomes pitcher John Lackey (41) to the dugout after being relieved during the seventh inning against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park in Boston Saturday.
By Mike Shalin, The Sports Xchange

BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox are still the only team in the Major League without a four-game losing streak.

Boston, which lost 93 games last season, carried its fifth three-game skid of 2013 into Saturday but defeated the rival Yankees 6-1 to even the weekend series at a game apiece.

“Depth of the roster. Consistent starting pitching in general and in some of those games where we needed to dig a little deeper to come back from a potential loss we’ve been able to do it,” manager John Farrell said after John Lackey pitched a strong 6 2/3 innings to get his first win since July 12.

“We have a good team.”

Lackey, who recently said he didn’t think embattled Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez should be on the field in the midst of his PED woes, let his pitching do his talking in raising his record to 8-10 and outdueling Hiroki Kuroda (11-8). Afterward, he said his comments on A-Rod were overblown and meant nothing to him during the game. He also said Rodriguez has the right to play under the collectively bargained appeal process.

“Lackey was outstanding today. Threw the ball very well,” said Rodriguez. “He’s having a big year for them.”

The Red Sox, who came in leading Tampa Bay by a game in the AL East, won for the fifth time in their last 12 games, while the Yankees, fighting to get back into contention lost for the second time in their last seven.

Lackey, ending a four-decision/five-start losing streak, got 15 of his 20 outs on ground balls, five of them to him no surprise, considering he has the most assists by an AL pitcher this season. The top three hitters in the New York lineup were a combined 0-for-9 with nine groundouts.

After there was some talk in the media of Lackey throwing at him, Rodriguez, again lustily booed by the Fenway Park crowd, went 0-for-2 with a walk against Lackey and finished the day 0-for-3.

Lackey has pitched well enough to be better than his record. He has also won over a fan base that hated him two years ago, before he missed all last season with Tommy John surgery.

“We needed a win today, especially as a team more than anything,” he said. “That was nice to get.”

Kuroda, often a victim of non-support this season, was let down again. He gave up three runs in the fourth inning, a frame marred by a throwing error by first baseman Lyle Overbay and a blown call by third base umpire Bill Welke on a double steal. Kuroda, who didn’t give up a run in five of his previous seven starts, gave up five on Saturday, matching a season high. However, only three were earned, leaving his ERA at 2.41.

Jacoby Ellsbury, in a 3-for-25 slump coming in, had three hits and two RBI. David Ortiz (batting .378 over the last 11 games) added his 24th home run of the season and Daniel Nova stroked two doubles for Boston, which got multi-hit games from six players.

“Papi, he’s the heart and soul of that team,” said Rodriguez.

New York’s Alfonso Soriano, 13-for-18 with five homers, nine runs scored and a record-tying 18 RBI over his last four games, singled his first two times up. But he was also foolishly doubled off second in the second inning and was caught stealing in the fourth; the latter coming on another blown call, this one by second base umpire Fieldin Culbreth.

Both calls could be challenged next year. Asked if he thought about what will be, Girardi said, “You think?”

As far as his team suffering the loss, Girardi said, “They are big losses in a sense. But you can’t make too much of one game and you’ve got to go out and win a series tomorrow. That’s the bottom line. We have to win the series. We have an opportunity to do that.”

NOTES: Boston’s Dustin Pedroia, who turned 30 Saturday, was 0-for-4 but was brilliant in the field. He also fouled a ball off his left shin in the eighth inning and was taken out in the ninth. Farrell said it didn’t seem serious. Pedroia s counterpart, Robinson Cano, made some great plays, had a late error but saw his 11-game hitting streak stopped. … Red Sox 1B Mike Napoli was a late scratch after aggravating a foot injury Friday. RF Shane Victorino, pulled late in that game with ongoing hamstring issues, was to have rested but played and even legged out an infield hit in a two-hit game. … New York’s CC Sabathia, who pitched well his last time out to even his record at 10-10, starts against Ryan Dempster Sunday night. Dempster is 0-5 lifetime against the Yankees. Friday, Rodriguez said there would be more (and worse) coming in his saga and his lawyer told the New York Times the team hid Rodriguez medical findings from him last season. … Red Sox RHP Clay Buchholz, out since June 8 with shoulder and neck injuries, threw again off a mound Saturday and the plan is for him to face his own hitters in San Francisco Wednesday. … Sox closer Koji Uehara worked a scoreless ninth and hasn’t allowed a run over his last 18 1/3 innings.

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