PHILADELPHIA -- There were times Wednesday night when John Lackey thought he was battling two opponents at once: the Philadelphia Phillies and their cozy Citizen Bank Ballpark.
In six innings of work, Lackey allowed just six hits. Problem was, three of those six left the yard and the three solo homers played a big role in the Phillies' 4-3 victory.
"In this ballpark,'' said manager John Farrell, "seemingly every time the ball goes in the air, you're holding your breath a little bit. I thought overall John gave us a solid six innings of work.''
Armed with a quick 1-0 lead, Lackey gave up a solo homer to left by Ryan Howard to open the second, tying the score. In the fourth, after one out, Domonic Brown and Erik Kratz hit
back-to-back solo shots. Brown's just reached the first few rows in right, while Kratz's blast traveled to straightaway center field.
"When the weather gets warm here,'' said Farrell, "the way this ballpark can play, it gets even smaller.''
"The ballpark got me a little bit, for sure,'' said Lackey. "But that's where the game was played. Warm weather, or the small park --one of the two. It was definitely carrying well today. But it is what
it is. Two of the three (pitches hit for homers) I would throw again.''
Lackey labored at times. After setting down the Phils in order in the first, he allowed Howard's homer and a single in the second. In the third, he had to get out of a first-and-second jam with two outs, and did so by slipping a called third strike by Howard.
In the sixth, his final inning of work, he issued a leadoff walk to Delmon Young and a one-out walk to Kravitz, but escaped further damage by getting Freddie Glavis to hit into an inning-ending double play.
The start marked Lackey's third straight quality start -- six or more innings, three earned runs or fewer. It's the first time since April
of 2011 that he's strung together three consecutive quality starts.
In seven of his eight starts this season, Lackey has allowed three runs or fewer, and though his record is 3-5, his ERA is 2.96, second-best of Red Sox starters.
In another ballpark or another night, he might have had more to show for his effort Wednesday night.
"You just keep pitching,'' shrugged Lackey, "and try to make pitches and hope the good guys hit a few too.''