McAdam: Sox win with pitching -- imagine that!

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McAdam: Sox win with pitching -- imagine that!

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
For much of the season, the Red Sox have been so busy beating other teams into submission that the notion of winning game with their pitching seemed almost quaint.

This, despite having a rotation full of high-profile -- to say nothing of high-salaried -- starters. Often in the first three months, the starters were the recipients of such powerful offensive backing that they became almost afterthoughts. It may be too strong to suggest that the Sox were winning in spite of their pitching, but surely they often won independent of their pitching.

Of late, however, the offense has sputtered thanks to a cocktail of injuries (Carl Crawford, Jed Lowrie); interleague play and the absence of the DH; and plain old law of averages.

It didn't help that the Sox began treating the notion of putting Adrian Gonzalez in the outfield (to accommodate David Ortiz) as an exercise as fraught with as much danger as navigating a tightrope over shark-infested waters.

Suddenly the same team that had amassed double figures in runs six times in the spam of a dozen games as recently as mid-June was now desperate for a run, any runs.

Entering Thursday, Red Sox position players had not driven in a single run in the previous 20 innings.

What to do, what to do?

Enter Lester, who had the crazy notion of beating the Phils at their own game. Before Thursday, exactly one-third of Philadelphia's victories had come in games in which they scored three runs or fewer.

And beyond the desire to snap a two-game losing streak and avoid being swept, Thursday seemed as good a time as any to lean on the rotation since the lineup was missing both Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis and feature Darnell McDonald hitting second and Jason Varitek hitting fifth.

Leater was brilliant on the early going. He didn't allow a hit until the fourth and by the end of the sixth had permitted just two baserunners.

(It should be duly notes that the Sox were aided by Gonzalez's smoking liner back to the mound with one out in the fourth which struck Cole Hamels on the right hand and forced him from the game the following inning).

Lester insisted that he didn't approach the start with the idea of singlehandedly beating the Phils.

"Obviously you want to have a quality start," said Lester, "and go out there and battle and not give up a lot of runs. But you can't worry about losing streaks or anything like that. You just have to go out and execute pitches."

Which he did, again and again.

"Jonny held on and kept us in the game long enough," said Jason Varitek. "Jonny was the story."

Eventually, the offense provided enough, albeit from some unlikely sources. Varitek slammed two solo homers and Drew Sutton and Marco Scutaro contributed four hits between them.

Still, for a change, this one was all about the starter.

Winning with pitching -- what a concept.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Porcello loses 10th game as Red Sox fall to Twins, 4-1

Porcello loses 10th game as Red Sox fall to Twins, 4-1

BOSTON -- Twins rookie lefty Adalberto Mejia is feeling more comfortable each time he takes the mound.

Mejia pitched 5 2/3 innings in his second straight scoreless start, Max Kepler hit a two-run homer and Minnesota rebounded from two consecutive losses against Boston to beat the Red Sox 4-1 on Wednesday night.

"He did a nice job," Twins manager Paul Molitor said about Mejia. "He had to kind of battle. It's kind of becoming a little bit of his MO to burn through pitches, but similarly to his last start, he kept walking off the field with zeros."

Kepler also had an RBI single, and Miguel Sano added an RBI double to help the Twins improve to 24-11 on the road.

Mejia (3-3) allowed five hits, struck out three and walked one in his 11th career start. On Friday night at Cleveland, he held the Indians to two hits over five innings in a victory.

"I feel calmer every time I'm out there," he said through a translator. "I think that's why I did better."

Brandon Kintzler got the final three outs for his 21st save.

Boston starter Rick Porcello (4-10) gave up four runs on six hits in six innings, striking out six and walking two. It was his 14th straight start going at least six innings, the AL's longest active streak.

"It's not like they're beating the cover off the ball," Porcello said. "It's just a couple things here and there that I've got to clean up. I'm not making excuses for myself. I definitely hold myself accountable for the loss tonight."

Red Sox manager John Farrell was back in the dugout after serving a one-game suspension Tuesday for poking umpire Bill Miller in the chest during an argument Saturday.

The Red Sox stranded 11 baserunners, and at least one in every inning. Farrell thought his team may have been pressing a bit.

"I thought there were times we might have expanded the strike zone a little bit, trying to make something happen," he said.

With Minnesota leading 2-0 in the sixth, Kepler lined his homer off the back of Boston's bullpen.

In the first, the Twins scored a pair of two-out runs when Sano hit his RBI double down the third-base line and scored on Kepler's broken-bat single.

Xander Bogaerts drove in Boston's run with a bases-loaded grounder in the seventh.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Twins: LHP Glen Perkins resumed throwing Tuesday after a setback last week following offseason shoulder surgery. Molitor said the club is still formulating a plan for him. He's been sidelined all season and pitched in just two games last year.

Red Sox: DH Hanley Ramirez missed his third straight game after getting hit by a pitch on the left knee Sunday. "He'll go through a full workday today," Farrell said. "He's feeling improved."

MATCHES OWN RECORD

Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia played his 98th consecutive error-less game, matching the best mark in club history he set for a second baseman from 2009-10.

LOOKS FAMILIAR

This season has started like 2015 for Porcello, the AL's reigning Cy Young Award winner.

Two years ago when he struggled badly, the righty lost nine of his initial 13 decisions and finished 9-15 with a 4.92 ERA.

ROSTER MOVE

Minnesota right-hander Phil Hughes was activated from the 10-day disabled list and LHP Craig Breslow was put on with rib cage soreness.

Hughes had been on the DL since complaining of a "dead feeling" in his pitching shoulder on May 21. He allowed one run in three innings during three rehabilitation appearances in Triple-A.

Molitor plans to use him out of the bullpen.

UP NEXT

Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (4-5, 6.23 ERA) looks to continue his success in Fenway Park in the series finale Thursday. He's allowed only one run over 15 innings in two career starts.

Red Sox: LHP David Price (2-2, 4.76) has won his last five decisions against Minnesota, posting a 1.84 ERA.