By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
SEATTLE It might be difficult to fathom, but John Lackey is riding a six-game winning streak thats shot him all the way up to a team-high 11 wins on the season.
Both Lackey and left-handed ace Jon Lester hold 11 wins for the Sox this season, but theyve arrived on equal footing by enduring much different routes.
It wasnt easy and it certainly wasnt baseball aesthetics 101, but Lackey trudged through six plus innings and battled until his offense scrambled to secure a 6-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.
The big blow was a majestic Josh Reddick homer into the right field faade in the top of the sixth inning that bestowed the Sox with their first lead of the night, and also snapped Reddick out of a 1-for-14 funk at the plate. With a two-run lead in hand, Lackey and a team of Sox relievers gutted out the last three innings to preserve a much-needed victory for an AL East team thats again streaking in August.
Lackey was knocked around for four runs and 10 hits in his six plus frames, but he also executed a couple of really important things when it comes to winning. Lackeys bend-but-dont-break pitching style allowed the Sox to hang around in the game, and he was highly effective over his final couple of frames once he was handed the lead.
Lackey left a jam in the top of the seventh, but the combination of Franklin Morales and Daniel Bard quieted the Mariners right down not exactly a great baseball achievement when the Ms entered the game hitting .229 as a team.
It looked early on like this would be the night where things went bad again for Lackey after a nice little ride during the last six weeks. The Ms offense singled Lackey to death in the first two frames and actually plated three runs while stringing together six hits and two walks before six outs were recorded.
But Seattle never managed to get the one big break to force things wide open, and then couldnt touch a Sox bullpen thats again looking rested and relaxed after a brief bout with pitching fatigue.
Instead the Sox chipped away with solo homers by David Ortiz in the second inning and Jed Lowrie batting left-handed in the fifth frame that kept them within a single run of the Mariners. Reddicks home run finally pushed the Sox ahead, and it all ended with Jonathan Papelbon cutting the Ms down for his 27th save of the season.
Player of the Game: Josh Reddick snapped out of a 1-for-14 mini-funk by jumping all over a Blake Beavan fastball in the top of the sixth inning and launching it into the right field scoreboard faade under the Hit it Here Caf. Reddicks two-run blast gave the Sox their first and only lead of the night, which they managed to protect through the final three innings for the victory. Reddicks 25 RBI on the season place him among the top five rookie producers in the AL this season. On a day when J.D. Drew took live batting practice, Reddick made sure to show up big in a game his team looked destined to lose.
Honorable Mention: Mike Carp is probably the punch line to more than a few jokes around baseball as the cleanup hitter for the Seattle Mariners, but he did everything possible to deliver the Ms a victory. He came through with run-scoring hits in the first and fourth innings, and singled again in the seventh for his third hit of the night while his Ms teammates attempted one last rally.
The Goat: Justin Smoak the young slugger stranded five Mariners runners in his first two at bats when the Ms had a teetering John Lackey on the ropes, but failed to step on the Sox righty when his team had him reeling on the mound. Smoak then added injury to the insult when a Jarrod Saltalamacchia one-bounce hot shot kicked up and hit him in the left side of his face and fractured his nose. Smoak had to leave the game after taking the ball in the face, and with no judgment on his individual toughness at all once again proved the monumental toughness chasm between baseball players and hockey players when it comes to playing through paininjuries.
Turning Point: The Seattle Mariners stranded six runners in the first three innings when John Lackey was hemorrhaging base runners on the mound, and could never separate from a Red Sox team that just kept hanging around. The Sox never had the lead, but they never let Seattle separate either. Eventually Josh Reddick stung the Mariners pitching staff with the two-run blast, and the Ms had nobody to blame but themselves for missing multiple chances for an early round knockout against Lackey and his ballclub. Seattle left a whopping 11 guys on base in the loss.
By the Numbers: 36-22 with the road win against the Mariners, the Red Sox tied the Philadelphia Phillies for the best road record in Major League Baseball this season with a .621 winning percentage.