Rapid reaction: Red Sox 10, Brewers 4

June, 17, 2011
BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox juggernaut rolls on.

The Sox lost two starters by the fifth inning -- Carl Crawford (left hamstring) and Kevin Youkilis (stomach illness). And John Lackey’s early-inning performance was of the Jekyll-and-Hyde variety.

But thanks to offensive support from smooth-swinging Adrian Gonzalez and a spectacular momentum-shifting defensive play by second baseman Dustin Pedroia, Lackey found a groove and earned credit for a 10-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers in an interleague game Friday night at Fenway Park.

The Sox now have won 12 of their last 13 contests, pushing their American League East lead to 2 1/2 games over the New York Yankees.

Lackey won his third straight start since returning from the disabled list, though the right-hander endured rocky moments in the first and third innings. It took him 25 pitches to get out of the first, an inning in which he surrendered two runs. And he needed 24 pitches to finish up the third, again coughing up a pair of runs.

Otherwise, Lackey was dominating, not in a strikeout sense, but in getting the Brewers to pound the ball on the ground for easy outs. He retired 15 batters in a row on an economy of pitches after Prince Fielder’s hot liner to right cut Boston’s deficit to 4-3 in the third. Of those 15 outs, 10 came on groundouts, three on strikeouts and two flyouts.

The spell was broken on Nyjer Morgan’s single to center, but a double play on a flyout to center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury ended the eighth and Lackey’s night.

Lackey, who threw 58 pitches through the first three innings, breezed the rest of the way, finishing with 111 pitches as he evened his record at 5-5.

Lackey’s turnaround began with Pedroia’s brilliant stop of Casey McGehee’s scorched bouncer with the bases loaded and none out in the third. Pedroia started a double play on what seemed certain to be a two-run single. The tying run scored, but Lackey, on the brink of an early shower, was unhittable after the sparkling play.

And with Gonzalez going 3 for 4, including a tie-breaking solo homer into the Monster seats in the fifth, the Red Sox offense kept pounding away at a Brewers staff that lost starting pitcher Sean Marcum to an injury after 44 pitches and two runs in the first inning.

By game’s end, the Red Sox had banged out 14 hits, 6 of which went for extra bases.

AS ADVERTISED: When the Red Sox traded for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, one positive aspect of his offensive approach was that, as a left-handed hitter, he stroked the ball to left-center with power. That was just one reason Fenway Park was considered a good match for him.

Friday night, Gonzalez once again backed up that scouting report. He singled off the left-field wall in the first, laced a double off the wall in left-center in the second and homered over the wall in left-center in the fifth.

Gonzalez maintained his major-league lead in RBIs (62), total bases (172), extra-base hits (41) and doubles (24).

SOLID-GOLD DEFENSE: After Friday night’s game, the Gold Glove for second baseman has to be awarded to the Red Sox’ Dustin Pedroia. No other second baseman need apply. Voters for the award need only look at a pair of plays Pedroia turned in against the Brewers.

In the third, with the bases loaded and none out, Milwaukee’s Casey McGehee smashed a hot bouncer toward the right-field hole. Off the bat it looked like a two-run single and a 5-4 Milwaukee lead. But Pedroia took one step to his left, dove for the ball and managed to snag the high hop. Then he quickly pivoted on his knees and threw a strike to shortstop Marco Scutaro, whose relay to first beat McGehee for an eye-popping and very important double play. One run scored, tying the game, but the sensational play killed the rally.

In the fourth, Pedroia ranged far to his right for Jonathan Lucroy’s grounder up the middle. In one motion he fielded the ball, turned his body and threw a strike to first, nailing Lucroy.



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