By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON -- The Red Sox returned to Fenway Park, maintaining the red-hot momentum that propelled them through their best nine-game road trip since 1977, by beating up on the Brewers 10-4.
The Brewers, making their first appearance at Fenway since 2008 (when the Sox swept the three-game series), had little to like in their return. Starter Shaun Marcum lasted just one inning, needing 44 pitches.
John Lackey got through an up-and-down first three innings to even his record at 5-5. Lackey needed 25 pitches (16 strikes) facing six batters in the first inning, when he gave up two runs. In the second, though, he retired the Brewers in order, using just nine pitches (seven strikes). He came back to face six batters again in the third, allowing two more runs, on 24 pitches (17 strikes).
But after a no-out RBI single to Prince Fielder in the third, Lackey retired the next 15 batters three on strikes, two fly balls, and the rest infield grounders before allowing a one-out single to center by Nyjer Morgan.
Adrian Gonzalez went 3-for-3 in his first three at-bats including his 15th home run of the season, into the first row of Monster seats to lead off the fifth needing a triple to complete the cycle. But, Gonzalez, who has 10 career triples and two this season, grounded into an inning-ending double play in the sixth and walked in the eighth. He scored each of the first three times he reached base.
With the Brewers leading 2-0 in the first, Jacoby Ellsbury cut the lead in half with his eighth home run of the season, into the Sox bullpen. With one out, Gonzalez singled to center and scored on David Ortizs double to right.
The Sox added two more in the second. With two outs Dustin Pedroia walked and went to third on Gonzalezs double. With both scoring on Kevin Youkilis single to center, giving the Sox a 4-2 lead.
But the Brewers scored two of their own in the next inning. Rickie Weeks, Morgan, and Braun led with consecutive singles, Weeks scoring on Fielders single. Casey McGehee grounded into a double play, scoring Morgan, setting up Lackeys string of 15 Brewers retired.
After Gonzalezs solo homer in the fifth, the Sox added two in the sixth and three in seventh, securing the win.
Lackey got the win, going eight innings, giving up four run on eight hits with five strikeouts and no walks. Marco Estrada, who replaced Marcum in the second inning, took the loss, falling to 1-4.
Matt Albers, making his first appearance since June 9, pitched a perfect ninth inning, striking out Fielder and McGehee.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Adrian Gonzalez
Gonzalez went 3-for-4 with three runs scored, and an RBI. He fell a triple shy of the cycle, going 3-for-3 in his first three at-bats, scoring each time. He grounded into an inning-ending double play in the sixth and walked in the eighth. He improved his league-leading average from .347 to .352, while his slugging percentage (fourth in the AL to start the game) went from .596 to .612, and his on-base percentage of .402 (fifth) improved to .408.
His home run to lead off the fifth his 15th of the season into the first row of Monster seats, put the Sox ahead, 5-4, proving to be a decisive run on the way to a 10-4 win.
HONORABLE MENTION: Dustin Pedroia
Pedroia went 1-for-4 with a walk, a run scored, and an RBI. But it was his defense that that was the difference in this game. He had six assists, including the front of a double play on Casey McGehee in the third to start Lackeys string of retiring 15 consecutive batters. He also made a highlight-reel play with a diving stop on Jonathan Lucroys grounder in fourth inning.
THE GOAT: Shaun Marcum
Although he was not involved in the decision, Marcum needed 44 pitches to get through the first inning. Staked to a 2-0 lead, he quickly allowed the Sox back into the game, giving up a lead-off home run to Jacoby Ellsbury. In addition to the 44 pitches, he gave up two runs facing eight batters, on four hits, a walk, and a wild pitch. Marcum was done after just one inning, leaving with a left hip flexor strain.
"Right off the bat, were back in the game, Francona said of Ellsburys home run. I think its huge. I know we followed it up, got the other run, and were playing even. I thought that was really important."
THE TURNING POINT
Lackey allowed consecutive singles to the first four batters he faced in the third inning. With no outs, one run already in, the bases loaded, and the Sox leading by one run, Lackey appeared to be on a tightrope. But Casey McGehee hit a sharp grounder to Dustin Pedroia, who converted the double play. Although a run scored, it started a string of 15 consecutive batters set down by Lackey. The Brewers could muster just one hit an eighth-inning single by Nyjer Morgan after that.
"Theres nobody out, bases loaded, thats going to be a couple runs and maybe second and third, manager Terry Francona said. That was the biggest play of the game. Thats the way Pedey plays. I dont think anybody else makes those plays."
STAT OF THE DAY: 54
The Red Sox have won 12 of their last 13 games, outscoring opponents by 54 runs in that span, 100-46.
QUOTE OF NOTE:
Yeah, that ain't gonna happen. I'm not even thinking about that. I would have to have the triple firstfor me to even consider that. --Adrian Gonzalez, who needed a triple after his first three at-bats to complete the cycle.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen