Firepower leads Sox past Orioles, 10-3

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Firepower leads Sox past Orioles, 10-3

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON An offensive explosion in the first and an explosion of a different type in the eighth marked the start and finish of the Red Sox thumping of the Orioles, 10-3, Friday night at Fenway Park.

Sending 13 batters to the plate in the first inning, with eight of them scoring, there was little else the Red Sox had to do in beating the Orioles, 10-3, for the second straight game at Fenway Park.

The Sox battered Orioles left-hander Zach Britton for six hits in the first, including a three-run blast by David Ortiz, his 19th of the season. Britton lasted just two-thirds of an inning, giving up eight runs (seven earned) on six hits and two walks with one strikeout.

Dustin Pedroia added a solo shot leading off the sixth off Chris Jakabauskus

Josh Beckett, who left after the fifth inning for precautionary reasons, with a mildly hyperextended left knee, earned the win improving to 7-4 with a 2.27 ERA. He gave up three runs on seven hits and two walks with three strikeouts.

Matt Albers followed Beckett, with four strikeouts in two innings.

Two bench-clearing brawls, with four ejections, in the eighth inning, triggered by a David Ortiz-Kevin Gregg showdown marked the end of the game. Ortiz, Gregg, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Jim Johnson were all ejected.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: David Ortiz
Ortizs three-run homer in the first inning off starter Zach Britton was the big blast in the Sox eight-run barrage that inning. It was his team-leading 19th home run of the season, second in as many nights against a lefty, and 146th of his career at Fenway Park, passing Bobby Doerr for sole possession of fifth all-time. It was the seventh time he has homered in back-to-back games this season four more than he did all last year.

Ortiz went 2-for-4 with three RBI, and is now 6-for-17 with three doubles, two home runs, and five walks in five games on the homestand.

But, it was his eighth-inning fireworks that provided Ortizs signature to the game. Ortiz and Os reliever Kevin Gregg sparked two bench-clearing brawls, with the second resulting in haymakers thrown by each and four players ejected Ortiz, Gregg, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and the Os Jim Johnson.

Ortiz initially took exception to three inside pitches from Gregg that jackknifed the Sox DH, emptying both dugouts and bullpens. After flying out to center field, Ortiz objected to Greggs directions for him to run out the play to first base. Ortiz charged the mound, with an all-out brawl ensuing.

It was the ninth career ejection for Ortiz, and first for Saltalamacchia.

HONORABLE MENTION: Dustin Pedroia
For the second straight game, Pedroia blasted a titanic home run. Unlike his home run on Thursday, though, his Friday night shot leading off the sixth inning -- stayed in the park only because it hit the signage high above the Green Monster.

Pedroia went 2-for-4, raising his average to .281, with three RBI and a home run, his 10th of the season. It was the first time hes hit back-to-back home runs in consecutive games since April 10 and 11. He has homered in three of his last four games.

His first-inning single to center field extended his on-base streak to 22 games going back to June 15, the longest active streak in the AL. In that time he is 30-for-86, batting .349, with 17 walks. His eighth-inning walk was his 62nd of the season, passing Mark Bellhorn for most by a Sox second baseman prior to the All-Star break since 1946.
THE GOAT: Zach Britton
With less than a full inning of work to show for it, Britton left his team in a very deep and very early eight-run hole. It was more than the Orioles climb out of. After getting Jacoby Ellsbury to fly out to Adam Jones in center field one of two stellar catches the Os centerfield made on his Sox counterpart in the game -- to open the inning, Britton allowed the next seven Sox batters to reach base before he could record another out.

Britton went just two-thirds of an inning, giving up eight runs (seven earned) on six hits and two walks with a strikeout, and a home run. His record fell to 6-6 while his ERA climbed from 3.47 to 4.05.

THE TURNING POINT
Fans were still trying to find their seats at Fenway Park when the game was all but over. The Sox sent 13 batters to the plate in the first inning, with eight scoring. The last time the Sox scored as many runs in the first inning was on Aug. 12, 2008, against Texas, when they scored 10.

Jacoby Ellsbury led off against Zach Britton, flying out to Adam Jones, who made a nice catch, running into the triangle in center field. Dustin Pedroia singled to center Adrian Gonzalez walked. Kevin Youkilis singled through the shortstop hole, scoring Pedroia, sending Gonzalez to second. Ortiz blasted a three-run homer to right. Jason Varitek walked. Marco Scutaro singled to center, with Varitek taking third. Darnell McDonald doubled to left-center, scoring Varitek and Scutaro. Yamaico Navarro struck out. Ellsbury singled to left, scoring McDonald, and ending Brittons outing.

Brad Bergesen came in for the Os. Pedroia reached on an error by shortstop J.J. Hardy. Gonzalez singled, scoring Ellsbury, sending Pedroia to third. Youkilis grounded out to third, ending the offensive explosion.

The total: One inning, 13 batters, eight runs (seven earned), seven hits, two walks, one strikeout, one error, two runners left on base, and two pitchers. And one game virtually in the win column.

STAT OF THE DAY: 18
Sending 13 batters to the plate in the first inning, it was the 18th time the Sox have batted around this season, extending their major league lead

QUOTE OF NOTE:
I was pretty close. I was on the little bench, the one where titos always in. so when the thing happened I guess I was the first guy. So, I was just trying to hold him. Hes so tall and I was just trying to hold him and I couldnt even reach the ground, just jumping on his back. -- Marco Scutaro, listed at 5-feet-10, who jumped on the back of 6-feet-6 Os pitcher Kevin Gregg during the eighth-inning brawl.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Tomase: Red Sox are better than this but I have real concerns

Tomase: Red Sox are better than this but I have real concerns

John Tomase, Chris Gasper and Gary Tanguay discuss is the Boston Red Sox recent slump is more than just a slump and also when John Farrell needs to start worrying about his job security again.

Red Sox understand first-inning woes are putting pressure on offense

Red Sox understand first-inning woes are putting pressure on offense

ST. PETERSBURG, FLa. -- Not long ago, the Red Sox were repeatedly taking first-inning leads, often with multi-run innings.

These days, of course, it's the other way round. The Red Sox haven't scored a first-inning run since June 11, while the opposition is piling up the runs, with 22 scored in the last 15 games prior to Tuesday.

"Two weeks ago,'' said John Farrell, "we were talking about how much pressure it takes off (our) pitcher when you go out and score (in the first). We're living the other side of both of those right now.''

The Red Sox recognize the problem, but fixing isn't easy, namely because the issue is not the same for every starter.

The Sox are satisfied with their approach. What they have to change are the results.

"To go out and command the baseball from the start,'' said Farrell, "that's what we're all working toward getting better at. It's pretty clear where we need to improve.''

"Obviously, it makes it difficult for the offense,'' said pitching coach Carl Willis of the recent habit of falling behind. "to start off in a hole. It kind of sucks some energy out of the dugout when you're playing catch-up right away. (The pitchers) are aware of it. We're looking at everyone's routine. A couple of guys have really good, consistent routines.''

Willis said the Red Sox have examined everything, from pre-game routines and timing for warm-ups. So far, they haven't been able to discover any common factors.

"We've got to come out and throw better in that first inning,'' said David Price, who will start the series finale against his former team Wednesday afternoon. "It's setting the tone early. It's going out there and putting up a quick zero and giving all your defenders and your offense (the message), 'Alright, we've got it today. We don't have to go out and put up a 10-spot.'

"If we can go out there and put up early zeros, it takes a lot of the pressure off that offense.''

For now, it's something the Sox are focused on repairing.

"Baseball's a crazy game,'' said Willis. "Sometimes you go through periods and it just happens. That's not a good answer and that's not an excuse. We have to be better and they know that.''

 

Trip to minors gives E-Rod opportunity to work on delivery consistency

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Trip to minors gives E-Rod opportunity to work on delivery consistency

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Red Sox pitching coach Carl Willis didn't say that Eduardo Rodriguez was tipping his pitches again Monday.

Then again, he didn't have to.

The results -- nine runs on 11 hits in 2 1/3 innings against the Tampa Bay Rays -- offered a hint. And, just for good measure, Willis all but said so Tuesday afternoon.

"It really goes back to consistency in (his) delivery,'' said Willis, "because with the inconsistencies -- I know it's no secret -- hitters know what's coming. He's worked on it extensively in bullpen sessions, dry work periods. He makes progress, shows the abilities to make those adjustments. However, when the game begins and his focus gears more toward attacking the hitter, the old habits resurface.

"It's not from lack of effort on his part. It's just a bit much to accomplish at the major league level, where hitters can look for inconsistencies and make adjustments more so that in the minors.''

Rodriguez knows what has to be done. But as recent history suggests, it's not an easy fix.

"It takes a lot of work. It does,'' said Willis. "Obviously, he's gone back to his old delivery that he's more accustomed to and comfortable with. I think there's a possibility that we're going to have to make an adjustment with his hands -- where he sets them and keeps them throughout his delivery, maybe eliminate some movement. And that's going to be something that would definitely be difficult to take place here.

"It's not easy, but certainly not impossible. He's a good athlete. He's an intelligent kid. He's aware. But it's the ability to maintain to make it a new habit so he doesn't have to think about it.''

How long Rodriguez takes to correct the flaws is unknown, making it difficult to estimate when he might return to the Red Sox rotation.

"I don't have an exact answer for that,'' said John Farrell. "That's going to be a start-by-start situation and (depends on) how he solidifies the adjustments that are requires. I don't have a timetable for how long it's going to be. . . But to suggest that this is going to be a one-start situation (at Pawtucket) would be a little aggressive.''