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

Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss

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Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss

NEW YORK -- It had the potential to be the most awkward celebration ever.

In the top of the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium, before their game was complete, the Red Sox became American League East champions, by virtue of one other division rival -- Baltimore -- coming back to beat another -- Toronto -- in the ninth inning.

That eliminated the Blue Jays from the division race, and made the Sox division champs.

But that ninth inning reversal of fortune was about to visit the Red Sox, too.

Craig Kimbrel faced four hitters and allowed a single and three straight walks, leading to a run. When, after 28 pitches, he couldn't get an out, he was lifted for Joe Kelly, who recorded one out, then yielded a walk-off grand slam to Mark Teixeira.

The Yankees celebrated wildly on the field, while the Red Sox trudged into the dugout, beset with mixed emotions.

Yes, they had just lost a game that seemed theirs. But they also had accomplished something that had taken 158 games.

What to do?

The Sox decided to drown their temporary sorrows in champagne.

"As soon as we got in here,'' said Jackie Bradley Jr., "we quickly got over it.''

From the top of the eighth until the start of the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox seemed headed in a conventional celebration.

A two-run, bases-loaded double by Mookie Betts and a wild pitch -- the latter enabling David Ortiz to slide into home and dislodge the ball from former teammate Tommy Layne's glove --- had given the Sox a 3-0 lead.

Koji Uehara worked around a walk to post a scoreless walk and after the top of the ninth, the Sox called on Craig Kimbrel, who had successfully closed out all but two save opportunities all season.

But Kimbrel quickly allowed a leadoff single to Brett Gardner and then began pitching as though he forgot how to throw strikes. Three straight walks resulted in a run in and the bases loaded.

Joe Kelly got an out, but then Teixeira, for the second time this week, produced a game-winning homer in the ninth. On Monday, he had homered in Toronto to turn a Blue Jays win into a loss, and now, here he was again.

It may have been a rather meaningless victory for the Yankees -- who remain barely alive for the wild card -- but it did prevent them the indignity of watching the Red Sox celebrate on their lawn.

Instead, the Sox wore the shame of the walk-off -- at least until they reached their clubhouse, where the partying began in earnest.

It had taken clubhouse attendants less than five minutes to cover the floor and lockers with plastic protective sheets. In a matter of a few more minutes, the air was filled with a mix of beer and bubbly.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski wore a goggles and only socks on his feet.

As the spray reached every inch of the clubhouse, David Ortiz exclaimed: "I'm going to drown in this man.''

Defeat? What defeat?

 

McAdam: Seeds of first place Red Sox planted in A.L. East basement

McAdam: Seeds of first place Red Sox planted in A.L. East basement

NEW YORK -- Worst to first.

Again.

Sound familiar?

It should, since the Red Sox are now making this a habit. For the second time in the last four years, the Red Sox have rebounded from a last-place finish -- two, in fact, in this instance -- to claim a division title.

On Wednesday, they won it the hard way -- by losing the game, 5-3, on a walk-off grand slam by the New York Yankees' Mark Teixeira, but clinching first thanks to a loss by the second-place Toronto Blue Jays.

It's as though the Red Sox were determined to win it on a trick bank shot. They had already won the A.L. East more conventionally in 2013, by actually winning their clinching game. But the awkwardness of blowing a three-run lead in the ninth was soon washed away in a spray of champagne and beer in a raucous clubhouse.

"One inning,'' declared John Farrell, "should not take away from the fact that we're champions.''

Indeed, the Red Sox had already paid the price to get to this point with two consecutive finishes in the division basement. They had to wait for their young foundation to mature and evolve.

Mookie Betts went from being a good, promising player to a legitimate MVP candidate. Jackie Bradley Jr. transformed from defensive marvel and streaky hitter to solid, all-around All-Star. Xander Bogaerts continued to improve and finally checked the "power'' box.

"I don't know what expectations we had coming in,'' confessed Bradley. "You just know that as long as you play hard, do the right things, keep together. . . We knew we had a talented team, but you still have to play the game. We were able to play the game at a high level this year.

"I think we knew this could happen in spring training, that we could be a pretty special team.''

By this year, the growing pains were over. The young stars had arrived and were ready to not just flash potential, but this time, do something with it.

"Everything came to fruition,'' noted Bradley, "and we're here.''

Along with the expected developments, there were surprises: Sandy Leon went from fourth-string journeyman to starting catcher, unseating several teammates along the way. Steven Wright went from bullpen long man to All-Star starter. Andrew Benintendi came from nowhere to claim the left field job in the final two months.

Some of this was planned. The rest -- and this is the beauty of sports -- was not.

"We had two rough years," said Farrell. "But at the same time, it was true meaning in the struggles. We're benefitting from that now.,''

The team showed a powerful finishing kick down the stretch, obliterating anything and anyone in its way in the final month, winning 11 straight, including seven in a row on the road -- all against division opponents.

The road-heavy second-half schedule that threatened to derail them instead toughened them and served as a springboard.

Comparisons will be made, of course, to the last two championship teams - 2004 stands alone for obvious reasons. Farrell was the pitching coach for one (2007) and the manager of another (2013).

"This is a more dynamic offense than those other teams,'' said Farrell. "We've got more team speed, we've got more athleticism. I can't say that this is a better team; it's different.''

"Better'' may have to wait until November, and the end of the postseason. It will require a World Series victory to match 2007 and 2013.

Time will tell. But for a night, there was enough to celebrate.

"By no means,'' said Farrell, dripping in champagne, "is this the end. This is just the beginning of our postseason.''