Lackey earns first win as Sox beat Astros, 6-1

Lackey earns first win as Sox beat Astros, 6-1
April 28, 2013, 4:30 pm
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BOSTON -- John Lackey returned to the Red Sox rotation Sunday afternoon after 22 days on the disabled list with a right elbow strain. While the Sox had been hoping to get four or five innings out of him, Lackey went six innings on his way to his first win of the season, and the Sox completed their four-game sweep of the Astros with a 6-1 win.
 
Lackey  gave up one run in six innings, on five hits and two walks with four strikeouts. He threw 81 pitches, 56 for strikes, improving to 1-1, while his ERA fell from 4.15 to 2.61.
 
His only real challenge was in the first inning when he faced six batters, needing 27 pitches, just 14 for strikes. He struck out lead-off batter Robbie Grossman, then, with two outs, Lackey issued consecutive walks to Jason Castro and Carlos Pena before giving up an RBI single to Ronny Cedeno. But Lackey limited the damage, as Fernando Martinez flied out to end the inning. 
 
After giving up a lead-off single to Matt Dominquez in the second, Lackey retired the next 13 batters he faced before giving up three straight singles in the sixth with one out. But he retired the next two batters, leaving the bases loaded.
 
Clayton Mortensen replaced Lackey in the seventh, pitching a scoreless inning.
 
Bud Norris took the loss for the Astros, falling to 3-3. He went six innings, giving up five runs (three earned) on nine hits and two walks with six strikeouts.
 
The Sox tied the game in the bottom of the first, when Daniel Nava doubled with one out and scored on David Ortiz’s single to left-center.
 
Stephen Drew’s two-out, two-run triple in the fourth scored Mike Carp and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who hit back-to-back singles, putting the Sox up 3-1.
 
In the fifth, Daniel Nava led off, reaching second when Houston shortstop Marwin Gonzalez committed two errors, fielding and throwing, on his groundball. Dustin Pedroia’s double scored Nava, with Carp’s two-out double scoring Pedroia.
 
With Jose Cisneros on the mound for the Astros in the seventh, Nava led off with a single, taking second on a balk, and scoring on Ortiz’s double into the right field corner, giving the Sox a 6-1 lead.
 
Koji Uehara pitched a scoreless eighth, giving up a single to Carlos Pena.
 
Although it was not a save situation Andrew Bailey, who hadn't pitched since Wednesday, he entered for the ninth, throwing a scoreless inning, allowing only a ground-rule double to Rick Ankiel.
 
STAR OF THE GAME: John Lackey
In his second start of the season, Lackey earned his first win since Aug. 23, 2011, at Texas. That's a span of 614 days in between wins. The victory snapped a career-worst stretch of seven starts without a win.
 
HONORABLE MENTION: Daniel Nava
Making his fourth consecutive start in right field, in place of the ailing Shane Victorino, Nava made two nice catches, both times robbing Astros lead-off hitter Robbie Grossman. Nava reeled in Grossman’s fly ball with an over-the-shoulder basket catch to end the second. And Nava’s diving catch in the ninth, with a runner on, ended the game.
 
Before this four-game stretch, Nava has also played right in four other games this season, including three at home. Before this season, he had appeared in just two games in Fenway’s expansive right field. Nava also went 2-for-3 with a double and  three runs scored, and is now hitting .301, with a .535 slugging percentage, and .407 on-base percentage.
 
THE GOAT: Bud Norris
With a one-run lead in the first, Norris let the Sox tie the game in the bottom of the inning. With two outs in the fourth, he gave up a two-run triple to Stephen Drew. Norris fell to 3-3 and now owns a 4.20 ERA.
 
THE TURNING POINT
Although Lackey struggled in the first inning, needing 27 pitches to get through the frame, he settled down after that. After a lead-off single in the second, he retired the next 13 batters.
 
BY THE NUMBERS: 18
With 18 wins the Sox have tied their most wins in April in team history, done twice before, in 1998 and 2003.
 
QUOTE OF NOTE
“Honestly, it was better than expected in most ways today.” – John Farrell on John Lackey’s outing.