By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON Right-hander John Lackey walked off the field at Fenway Park in the seventh inning Saturday night to a much different reaction from the home crowd than in his previous outing. When he left in the third inning Monday, Lackey was given a robust round of boos on his way to the clubhouse. But, walking off the field after 6 23 innings Saturday against the Orioles, Lackey was treated to a standing ovation, appropriate recognition of his nights work.
The Red Sox beat the Orioles, 4-0, their third straight win over Baltimore and fifth straight, and ninth of 10 overall.
Lackey held the Os scoreless, allowing just three hits and one walk with seven strikeouts, two wild pitches, and two hit batters. He goes into the All-Star break improving his record to 5-8, with a 6.84 ERA.
The Sox did the bulk of their scoring in the fifth inning, sending eight batters to the plate. The Sox did all their damage with two outs, and RBI hits from Kevin Youkilis, a single, and Josh Reddick (double) after intentional walks were issued to Adrian Gonzalez and Davit Ortiz. Reddicks two-run double ended the night for Os starter, right-hander Alfredo Simon.
Simon took the loss, falling to 1-2. He went 4 23 innings, giving up three runs on eight hits and three walks (two intentional) with one strikeout and a balk.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: John Lackey
Lackey rebounded from arguably his worst start with the Sox, on the 4th of July, to one of his better ones this season. He went 6 23 scoreless innings, allowing just three this and a walk with seven strikeouts. He also threw two wild pitches and hit two batters. Lackey goes into the All-Star break improving his record to 6-8, lowering his ERA to 6.84.
He threw 106 pitches, 69 for strikes, well above the desired 60 percent mark. It was his first win since Jun 17 against the Brewers. It was his fifth quality start in 14 outings this season. But against the Orioles, he has quality starts in each of his last 15 outings against them, throwing at least 6 23 innings each time. Since Aug. 30, 2005, while with the Angels, he is 9-3 with a 2.41 ERA against the Orioles.
HONORABLE MENTION: Kevin Youkilis
Youkilis went 3-for-4 with two doubles, two RBI, and a run scored. He drove in the Sox first run with a double to left in the fifth. His first-inning single to center extended his on-base streak to 21 games, going back to June 15. In that stretch he is hitting .347, going 26-for-75 with eight doubles, three home runs, 19 RBI, 10 walks, and getting hit by pitches twice. In that stretch he has raised his average from .259 to .282. This was his eighth game with multiple extra-base hits this season, and second on the homestand.
THE GOAT: Alfredo Simon
Despite having runners on base in every inning, Simon was able to keep the Sox off the scoreboard through the first four innings. But, that is a dangerous way to pitch and it caught up to him in the fifth, when the Sox scored three runs and drove Simon from the game.
He falls to 1-2 with a 4.85 ERA.
THE TURNING POINT
The Sox narrowly missed batting around in the fifth inning (they already lead the majors in that category, batting around 18 times this season). Instead, they sent eight batters to the plate, with three scoring. All the runs scored with two outs, and all the runs were driven in on hits after the previous batter was given an intentional walk.
With two outs and Dustin Pedroia on second base after a fielders choice cut down Jacoby Ellsbury (triple) trying to score, Adrian Gonzalez was intentionally walked. Kevin Youkilis then doubled to left, scoring Pedroia. With first base open, David Ortiz was also intentionally walked. Josh Reddick followed that with two-run double, ending Simons outing.
STAT OF THE DAY: 65 percent
John Lackey threw 106 pitches, 69 for strikes, a 65 percent strike ratio. In his last start, he threw 98 pitches, 56 strikes, a 57 percent ratio.
QUOTE OF NOTE
If they want to pitch around somebody, we want them to pay the price. -- Terry Francona on the two intentional walks issued to Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz in the fifth inning.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen