Prior to John Lackey's last start, he and pitching coach Juan Nieves worked on a few things according to manager John Farrell. Whatever they worked on, it's certainly paid off as the veteran right-hander has now thrown back-to-back solid games as he paved the way to the Red Sox' 7-4 win over the Rays Tuesday night at Fenway Park.
Lackey went eight innings allowing two runs while scattering six hits and striking out five. Over his last two starts he's thrown 16 innings allowing three runs, while striking out 16 and walking just one. Even more impressive is he's done this in less than ideal pitching conditions with the temperatures in the low 40s in both of the outings.
"He was outstanding once again," Farrell said. "He gave us a chance for the offense to get on track. Made some big pitches after the lead off double by (James) Loney in the fifth to leave him stranded. They answered back with the one run in the sixth to tie it and the because we were in a low-run game we were able to get into their bullpen, put up the five in the sixth and once again he goes through eight strong innings tonight. Again, another solid once again by John."
With the game knotted at one, the Red Sox blew the game open scoring five times in the sixth inning off two Rays relievers. Back-to-back walks opened the inning and then an RBI single from A.J. Pierzynski followed by two straight doubles from Will Middlebrooks (RBI) and Jackie Bradley Jr. (2 RBI) scored four total runs. Then, following a Dustin Pedroia ground out, Shane Victorino closed the scoring in the inning with an RBI double of his own. David Ortiz added an RBI single in the eighth for the seventh and final Red Sox run.
The Red Sox got their first run in the fifth inning. Middlebrooks led off with a walk followed by a double from Bradley Jr. setting up second and third with no outs. After a line out from Pedroia, Victorino's sacrifice fly to center field was able to score Middlebrooks. The Sox were able to work the count against Rays starter Erik Bedard, forcing him from the game after five innings and 104 pitches.
Edward Mujica continued is rough start to the season by allowing two runs in the ninth. Koji Uehara was needed to come on for the final out with the tying run for the Rays on deck to earn his sixth save.
The teams will be back in action tomorrow night (7:10, NESN) when Felix Doubront looks to get back on track as he takes on Chris Archer.
What they'll be saying: Things seem to be starting to click offensively for the Sox as they have scored seven or more runs in three of their last four games, after doing so just once through the first 23 games to open the season. It could be coincidence, but the streak started once the team got back to full strength beginning Friday night in Toronto ... Clearly, Lackey was outstanding picking up his fourth win of the season, going eight strong innings for the second straight start, the seventh time he's done that in his career. He's also struck out five or more hitters in each of his first six starts of the season, the longest such streak of his career ... Napoli was one of the star's offensively going 1-for-3 with two walks and seeing 33 total pitches on the night. He extended his on-base streak to 22 games, the second-longest streak in the majors this year.