Lackey's strong outing lost amid loss

Lackey's strong outing lost amid loss
June 21, 2013, 1:00 am
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DETROIT -- John Lackey had done his job -- two runs allowed in seven innings against one of the top lineups in the American League. He stood to be the winning pitcher as the Red Sox carried a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the ninth.
But then it unraveled. In the span of two batters, embattled closer Andrew Bailey issued a leadoff walk and a two-run, walk-off homer, depriving the Red Sox -- and Lackey - of a win.
"I felt pretty food,'' said Lackey. "I threw the ball pretty good. I was able to locate some off-speed stuff, the fastball. I felt pretty  good. I've been feeling pretty good for a while now. Trying to pound the zone, try to throw strikes, get ground balls and get as deep into the game as I can.''
Lackey's no-decision left him with a 4-5 record, but an ERA (3.03) that is far more reflective of how well he's pitched. In six of his past seven outings, Lackey has contributed a quality start.
"He's been outstanding,'' agreed manager John Farrell.''
Lackey was at 96 pitches after seven innings and lobbied hard to remain in the game.
"He didn't want to come out of that game,'' said Farrell, "and you like that about him. He certainly wanted to stay in the ballgame. But this is as much the big picture as it is a single game. He was still strong, but 96 pitches after seven innings of work, I felt like he had more than done his job.''
Asked if he could have gone back for the eight, Lackey said: "Oh, yeah.''
When he was asked if he fought Farrell on the decision, Lackey smiled and said: "We had a discussion.''
Lackey allowed just two hits in the first four innings. In the fifth, a walk, a two-out single, an infield chopper and a blooper into right scored two runs.
It was the ultimate tough-luck inning.
"Kind of par for the course right now,'' said Lackey.
He allowed a double to Miguel Cabrera in the fourth, but struck him out two other times, including to end the fifth with two runners on, mixing pitches.
"I've been around the block a little bit,'' he said. "I've got a few  options. I feel like that's part of learning yourself and being out there a lot. It's nice to have options because not everything is going to work every night.''
Including, as was the case Thursday night, your closer.