BALTIMORE -- First came a comebacker that caught him on the leg and rolled to shortstop for an infield hit.
Next was a line double into the left field corner, scoring the first run of the game. Then a single to right, setting up a first-and-third no-out situation.
Finally, an infield hit which scored the second run and pushed another baserunner into scoring position.
His day was only four batters old and already John Lackey was in big trouble.
But somehow Lackey slammed the door, worked out of the inning without further damage and pitched seven innings while not allowing another run in a 5-4 Red Sox victory.
"That,'' concluded John Farrell about Lackey's escape job, "might have been to the key to the game. (After that), he stayed out of the middle of the plate. It wasn't really anything mechanical. They came out and kind of smacked him right of the chute and to his credit, he and (catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia) went away from fastballs early in the count, slowed them down with some breaking balls and it seemed like he was sharp for the rest of the seven innings of work.''
Lackey came into the game having been winless in his last four starts, though on two of those occasions, he had actually pitched well enough to win.
But he seemed to gain something from getting out of the first and was barely threatened the rest of the way.
In fact, after the first four batters of the game, Lackey faced 22 hitters who went a combined 3-for-21 against him with just one walk.
With some help from Saltalamacchia, who threw out two would-be base-stealers, Lackey faced the minimum number of hitters in four of his last six innings.
"I didn't let the game speed up on me,'' said Lackey, now 4-5. "I settled down, made some pitches, tried to minimize the damage and just settled in a little bit. You can't really do much about the first four guys getting on once they're on, so you just try to minimize the best you can, try to locate a little better.''
Lackey said he and Saltalamacchia changed their approach to the Baltimore lineup, too.
"We changed up pitch sequences, that sort of thing, and tried to make some adjustments,'' Lackey said. "I was locating batter and changing things up a little bit in terms of pitch sequences and that stuff.''
Lackey finished the game with a 3.08 ERA through 11 starts. To find a better start to one of his seasons, you have to go back to 2008 when he had a 2.46 ERA after 11 starts.