Sox lose first interleague road game, 3-1

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Sox lose first interleague road game, 3-1

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
PITTSBURGH The Red Sox dropped their first Interleague road game of the season, 3-1, in front of 39,330 at PNC Park Friday night.

Jon Lester, despite throwing his 11th quality start in 16 outings this season, labored through much of his outing. He went six innigs, giving up three runs (two earned) on eight hits, a walk, and a hit batter with five strikeouts. His record fell to 9-4 with 3.66 ERA.

The Sox scored their lone run in the first inning as Jacoby Ellsbury lead off with a walk, scoring on Kevin Youkilis ground out.

Lesters record fell to 9-4, while Paul Maholm improved to 4-8. Joel Hanrahan got his 21stsave in as many opportunities for the Pirates.

The Sox have now lost three straight -- to two National League teams with a combined winning percentage of .453 at the start of the each series for the first time since losing four in a row May 29 June 1.

PITTSBURGH The Red Sox dropped their first Interleague road game of the season, 3-1, in front of 39,330 at PNC Park Friday night.

Jon Lester, despite throwing his 11th quality start in 16 outings this season, labored through much of his outing. He went six innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on eight hits, a walk, and a hit batter with five strikeouts. His record fell to 9-4 with 3.66 ERA.

The Sox scored their lone run in the first inning as Jacoby Ellsbury lead off with a walk, scoring on Kevin Youkilis ground out.

Lesters record fell to 9-4, while Paul Maholm improved to 4-8. Joel Hanrahan got his 20th save in as many opportunities for the Pirates.

The Sox have now lost three straight -- to two National League teams with a combined winning percentage of .453 at the start of the each series for the first time since losing four in a row May 29 June 1.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Paul Maholm
Facing the Red Sox -- who entered the game with the most potent offense in baseball, batting .279 as a team for the first time, Maholm held the Sox to one run on six hits, three walks, and a hit batter, with two strikeouts over 5 13 innings.

The lone run he allowed came in the first inning. He walked lead-off batter Jacoby Ellsbury, who went to third on Adrian Gonzalezs single and scored on Kevin Youkilis groundout.

Maholm pitched out of a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the third, getting Darnell McDonald to ground into a fielders choice. He also got McDonald to end the fifth with runners on first and second by flying out to center.

HONORABLE MENTION: Lyle Overbay
Overbay entered the game hitting just .226. But in his career against Lester he was 7-for-22, batting .318, with two home runs and seven RBI. He went 2-for-4 in the game, including 2-for-3 with an RBI, for the Pirates third run, against Lester. He is now batting .375 against the Sox lefty.

THE GOAT: Kevin Youkilis
Neil Walker started off the sixth inning with a hard-hit ball to Youkilis, who couldnt field it cleanly. On the next batter, Youkilis committed his 5th error of the season. Lyle Overbay, the third batter of the inning for the Pirates, singled to right for the Pirates third run of the game. Youkilis also struck out with runners on first and second in the seventh.

THE TURNING POINT
With two outs and the tying runs on second and third, David Ortiz, who was not in the starting lineup, went to the plate to pinch hit against Jose Veras. Ortiz had faced Veras just twice before in his career, going 0-for-1 with an intentional walk. This time, though, the right-handed Veras pitched to Ortiz. With the count 1-2 (with two called strikes), Ortiz fouled off three straight curveballs. On the seventh pitch of the at-bat, a 94-mph two-seamer, Ortiz grounded out to shortstop Ronny Cedeno, ending the Sox last best chance to score.

STAT OF THE DAY: .453
The Sox have lost three straight games to the Padres, in last place in the National League West, and the Pirates, who entered the game at .500. The Padres were at 30-44, a .405 winning percentage, at the start of the Sox skid. Combined, the Sox have lost three straight to two teams with combined a combined winning percentage of .453. It is the first time the Sox have lost three in a row since losing four straight from May 29 June 1.

QUOTE OF NOTE:
First of all, whats wrong with Mother Nature? I just walk into the play and it starts pouring. Whats up with that?--David Ortiz on his eighth-inning, pinch-hit appearance. It started raining when he went out on deck and continued through his at-bat, letting up when he hit into an inning-ending groundout.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Does uncertainty for Carson Smith mean Red Sox need bullpen help?

Does uncertainty for Carson Smith mean Red Sox need bullpen help?

BOSTON — Tyler Thornburg’s gone for the season and there’s really no telling when the other set-up man the Sox expected to help in 2017, Carson Smith, will be back.

The Sox have already made inroads, if minor ones, in bolstering their third-base situation and rotation. Smith’s situation leaves a question of whether the Sox will need to pursue help in the bullpen as well.

There's not an easy answer to settle on at this point.

For one, the timetable with the right-hander Smith — whose shoulder has bothered him on the way back from Tommy John surgery — isn’t clear.

“He's in a no-throw [time] through the weekend,” Sox manager John Farrell said Friday afternoon at Fenway Park. “He'll be reevaluated on Monday to hopefully initiate a throwing program. He's responding favorably to the treatment. He continues to rehab as he's been. We have not closed the book in a sense on anything Carson can contribute this year.”

What does this year mean, though? Will they be able to know by July, by the trade deadline?

“Still too early to tell,” Farrell said. “We thought he was days from starting his rehab assignment after his last live BP session in New York [on June 6]. Unfortunately, that was put on hold for the time being. To get into any kind of timeframes, timetables, I don't know that any of us can predict that right now.”

The Sox relievers have done extraordinarily well without either Thornburg or Smith. Can that continue without reinforcements? The bullpen’s ERA entering Friday was 2.94, the second best mark in the majors. Its innings total, 217, was the second. lowest in the majors. 

So it’s not like the entire group is about to collapse from fatigue. But a guy like Joe Kelly, for example, isn’t someone the Sox want to use back to back.

It’s a young group and ultimately an inexperienced group. But Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has already fallen into the trap of trading for premium set-up men twice, and that’s a dangerous road to pursue again. Perhaps a smaller trade makes more sense.

“Well, at this point, we’re open minded to help,” Dombrowski said when asked if he was targeting either third-base or relief help. “I’m not going to get into specifics at this time on what else we’re looking for. Keep an open mind on a lot of ways on which we can improve. We have guys coming back and both the spots, I think Carson Smith is very important to us and our bullpen has pitched great. The other day, we struggled but that was one of the few times we really struggled all year. 

“I think Carson still has a chance to come back and help us this year.”

Red Sox claim right-hander Doug Fister off waivers

Red Sox claim right-hander Doug Fister off waivers

Right-handed starter Doug Fister, who opted out of his contract with the Angels, has been claimed off waivers by the Red Sox, CSN Red Sox Insider Evan Drellich has confirmed.

The news was first reported by Chris Cotillo of SB Nation, who writes that Fister, 33, will join the Red Sox immediately.

Fister opted out of with the Angels after three Triple-A starts in Salt Lake City, where he allowed seven runs on 16 hits with five walks and 10 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings. 

With Eduardo Rodriguez and Brian Johnson on the DL, the Red Sox need immediate starting pitching help. Triple-A Pawtucket call-up Hector Velazquez made a spot start earlier this week in the fifth spot behind Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, David Price and Drew Pomeranz. 

Fister will receive $1.75 million in the majors from the Red Sox, with $1.2 million available in additional incentives, according to Cotillo. 

Fister has pitched eight seasons in the majors, including 2016 with the Astros, going 12-13 with 4.64 ERA in 180 1/3 innings. His best season was 2014 with the Nationals (16-6, 2.41 ERA).