By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON The Red Sox pounded Felix Hernandez for five runs in the seventh inning at Fenway Park Friday night, breaking open what had been a one-run game until then, on their way to a 7-4 win. It was the Sox 15th win in 18 games, and the Mariners 13th straight loss.
John Lackey picked up the win, evening his record at 8-8 with a 6.28 ERA. He went seven innings, allowing one run on eight hits with no walks, four strikeouts and a wild pitch.
Hernandez had never before lost at Fenway. He entered the game with a record of 3-0 (1.49) in five previous starts, but took the loss, going 6 13 innings, giving up six runs on 11 hits and four walks with two strikeouts. He falls to 8-9 with a 3.47 ERA.
Leading by a run heading into the seventh, the Sox batted around in the inning, with two runs scoring on Adrian Gonzalezs single to center and another two on Kevin Youkilis single to left, aided by an error from Mariners left fielder Mike Carp.
Franklin Morales came in for the eighth, giving up a three-run homer to Carp, before Daniel Bard came in with two outs and a runner on to close the door.
Jonathan Papelbon pitched a perfect ninth for his 22nd save.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: John Lackey
Lackey needed 22 pitches to get through the first inning, when he gave up a run on three hits. But he settled down after that to pick up the win, improving his record to 8-8 with a 6.28 ERA. Lackey went seven innings, giving up one run on eight hits with no walks and four strikeouts, against the Mariners who have lost 13 straight and have not scored three or fewer run in nine of those games.
I thought he was tremendous, said manager Terry Francona. He threw strikes. Even the hits he gave up he was ahead in the count.
The Mariners scored when Ichiro Suzuki singled on Lackeys first pitch of the game, stole second on the second pitch, stole third on the third pitch, and scored on Dustin Ackleys one-out single to left. But that was all the damage the Ms could do against Lackey.
Lackey won his third consecutive start, the second time he has put together a three-start win streak this season and the first time since 2008 he has had two such streaks in a season.
Since Aug. 19, 2006, while with the Angles, he is 9-2 with a 2.34 ERA in 13 starts against the Mariners, while his teams have gone a combined 11-2 in those games.
HONORABLE MENTION: Jacoby Ellsbury
Ellsbury continues to stay white-hot, going 2-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI. His solo homer leading off the third inning, his 16th of the season, gave the Sox a one-run lead until they broke through for five runs in the seventh.
He looks great, said Dustin Pedroia. Hes ready to hit. Hes driving the ball. Hes having the year like he had a few years back before he got hurt. I dont think anybodys surprised. Hes a great player.
Ellsbury, who had two homers on Wednesday in Baltimore, now has seven in July, the most hes ever hit in a month.
THE GOAT: Felix Hernandez
With the Sox holding a slim one-run lead going into the seventh, Hernandez allowed them to blow the game open with five runs. He went 6 13 innings, allowing six runs on 11 hits and four walks with two strikeouts and a home run. It was his shortest outing since pitching five innings on May 11 in Baltimore. It was his fewest strikeouts since picking up two on Aug. 1, 2009, at Texas. It was the most walks hes allowed in his last six outings, and more than he had allowed in his previous three starts.
Hernandez lost at Fenway Park for the first time in six career starts, and lost to the Sox for just the second time in his career. He has not earned a win in five starts since his last win on June 24 against the Marlins. In those games his team has given him a total of seven runs of support and no more than two in any game.
We found some holes, said Dustin Pedroia. Its not like we were lighting the place up. Hes got great stuff, and we got a couple ground balls that found some holes and we got a big hit. Thats basically it. Thats how you beat a pitcher like that. He doesnt get hit around that much because his stuff is so great. So we were fortunate to win.
THE TURNING POINT
With Lackey struggling in the first inning, giving up a first-pitch single to Ichiro Suzuki, a second-pitch stolen base, and a third-pitch stolen base, the Mariners could muster just one run in the inning. Lackey needed 22 pitches to get through the inning. Justin Smoak struck out with runners on first and third to end the inning. With a first-pitch temperature of 96 degrees, the Mariners unable to drive up Lackeys pitch count and workload, the Sox right-hander was able to regroup between innings and settle into a groove. He allowed no runs and just five hits over his next six innings.
STAT OF THE DAY: 60
The Sox now have a record of 60-37. With their 60th win coming in their 97th game, it is their fastest season to 60 wins since 1979, when they did so in 95 games. The only times the Sox have reached 60 wins at an earlier date were July 19, 1912; July 17, 1946; and July 16, 1978.
QUOTE OF NOTE:
I know his ERA is high. At the end of the year itll probably be higher than we want but if he pitches like this its not going to matter. -- Terry Francona on John Lackeys 6.28 ERA
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen