Lackey’s gem leads Red Sox to first playoff appearance since 2009

BOSTON — For awhile John Lackey flirted with history as he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, but an Adam Jones homer ended that rather abruptly, but regardless, Lackey’s gem led the Red Sox to a 3-1 win over the Orioles Thursday night at Fenway Park, clinching a playoff berth for the first time since 2009.

Lackey was outstanding, pitching arguably his best game of his career throwing his 13th nine-inning complete game and first since 2009 as he allowed just the one run on two hits and struck out eight, while only throwing fastballs and cutters. His ability to throw strikes and have complete command of his pitches was what guided him to his 10th win of the season.

“Tonight John Lackey, just an outstanding ballgame and the remake of John Lackey, both physically and getting back on the mound and performing as he’s done all year and it mirrors that of this team,” manager John Farrell said. “It’s been a remake and somewhat fitting to clinch a spot to get into the playoffs with him on the mound and to go nine innings like he did, like I said, very fitting.”

The Red Sox offense scored their three runs in the second inning powered by a two-run home run from Stephen Drew, just clearing the Monster to score Jarrod Saltalamacchia who doubled to lead-off the inning. Jackie Bradley Jr. followed with a double of his own and then was driven in on a single from Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia, Drew and Bradley Jr. all had two hits in the Sox’ seven-hit attack.

The Red Sox will now host the Blue Jays for a three-game weekend series beginning tomorrow night (7:10, NESN) where Jon Lester will take on Esmil Rogers.

What they’ll be saying: In clinching a playoff berth with eight games left in the season it was the most games left at the time of clinching a playoff spot since 1995 … Lackey may have put himself into the conversation as a possible No. 2 starter in a playoff series with his dominant performance Thursday night. He’s been a different pitcher in a way at Fenway Park going 6-3 with a 2.47 ERA at home, compared to 4-9 with a 4.39 ERA on the road … Pedroia is starting to heat up at the right time as his 2-for-4 performance extended his hitting streak to nine games and he has an extra-base hit in each of his last four contests, one shy of a season-high … It was a welcomed sign for Bradley Jr. collecting two hits for his second career multi-hit game, which snapped an 0-for-17 streak dating back to Sept. 11. His double was also his first extra-base hit at Fenway.


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