John Lackey's performance on the mound Wednesday in the Red Sox' 5-3 win over the Rockies made the news of Clay Buchholz shortened bullpen session easier to swallow.
Lackey went 7.0 innings for the Red Sox, allowing two runs on eight hits and zero walks while tying a career high with 12 strikeouts. The performance lowered his ERA to 2.99 on the season, the best he's had to date with the Sox.
He allowed two hits and run in the first inning, but got all three outs by way of the K.
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It didn't take long for the Sox offense to respond though, as they scored three runs in the bottom of the 1st inning and never looked back. Jacoby Ellsbury led off the game with a double and Shane Victorino hit him home with a single in the next at-bat. Later that inning, David Ortiz doubled home Victorino, and Daniel Nava knocked in the game's third run with a single.
Lackey took over from there.
He struck out the side in order in the 2nd inning. Again, in the fourth he allowed one hit but struck out three more batters.
Finally, Michael Cuddyer connected on a home run over the Monster in the 6th inning, but that would be the only remaining damage off Lackey.
The Red Sox scored their two more runs in the fourth inning when Mike Napoli singled with the bases loaded and Nava drove in another run with a sacrifice fly.
Cuddyer homered for the second time in the game in the 8th inning off Junichi Tazawa.
Jon Lester (7-4, 4,57 ERA) will take the mound for the Red Sox Thursday night as they open up a four-game set against the Blue Jays.
The word on Buchholz is that while he didn't feel major discomfort in the neck or right trapezius muscle, he didn't feel comfortable enough to keep pitching off the mound either.
"It's not quite there yet, you know?,” Buchholz told CSNNE.com. “Playing long toss, playing catch, it feels fine. I guess it's just that incline [of the mound] right now. It's not something that's a terrible feeling. It's just I want it to be gone. I don't feel like pitching, going out for two starts and having it flare up again.
"So, I'm going to stand strong on (insisting that) before I pitch again, or before I get off a mound in a game situation, I'm not going to feel anything. That's where we're at right now. Been told and reinforced multiple times that it's nothing with the (rotator) cuff or anything. The cuff's as strong as it has been since spring. It's just something lingering right now that I want to get completely over before I get off a mound.”