If the Red Sox and Rangers face each other in the playoffs, the scorekeepers had best prepare: there will be runs, and lots of them. Sunday afternoon at Fenway was no exception.
The Rangers banged out 15 hits and 11 runs against John Lackey and the Red Sox bullpen Sunday, winning the game and the series, 11-4.
The Red Sox fell to 1.5 games behind the Yankees, who beat the Blue Jays 9-3 Sunday, in the AL East. They still lead the Rays in the wild card race by eight.
Lackey Teeters Through Five, Topples in the Sixth, and Doubront Makes it Worse
Lackey’s problems started in the second inning. Right fielder David Murphy hit a one-out triple off the base of the Green Monster, then catcher Mike Napoli singled down the third-base line to drive Murphy in.
A hit off the Green Monster’s base hurt Lackey again in the third, this time a leadoff double by center fielder Endy Chavez. Second baseman Ian Kinsler‘s double off the bullpen wall scored Chavez to make it 2-0 Rangers, and Conor Jackson bruised his knee crashing into the wall trying to make the catch. Lackey then snared a liner from shortstop Elvis Andrus and snap-threw to third to double-up Kinsler, the second double play turned by the Red Sox.
Lackey hung with Rangers starter Matt Harrison through five innings but fell apart in the sixth. Adrian Beltre singled – his 2,000th career hit – with a man on to put runners on the corners, and Murphy followed Beltre with an RBI single. A wild pitch and a walk loaded the bases with no outs, and Terry Franconca replaced Lackey with Felix Doubront.
Doubront allowed all three inherited runners to score on an RBI single, walk and sacrifice fly by Kinsler that made it 6-0 Rangers. Then Josh Hamilton drove in all three of Doubront’s base runners with a triple to the triangle in center field.
Matt Albers relieved Doubront, escaped the sixth without allowing more runs, then struck out the side in the seventh despite three one-out singles.
Michael Bowden pitched a 1-2-3 eighth but allowed solo home runs to Napoli and Kinsler in the ninth.
Lackey took his 11th loss of the season, giving up six earned runs on eight hits, three walks, a strikeout and a hit batter.
Although Lackey had little trouble throwing down the pipe, he struggled with the corners. Because of this, Lackey regularly picked up two strikes but not the third. His lone strikeout was a swinging strikeout to first baseman Mitch Moreland to end the fourth.
Harrison Refuses to Give In to Red Sox
Harrison barely resembled the pitcher who gave up seven runs in five innings to the Red Sox on Aug. 24, constantly keeping the Red Sox off balance. When he could not dominate them like he did in his 1-2-3 first and sixth innings, he still would not allow the big hit.
When Kevin Youkilis (2-for-4) and David Ortiz (2-for-3) singled – a rare infield single for Ortiz – to start the second, Harrison got Jackson to ground into a double play, then struck out Carl Crawford with Youkilis on third to preserve the 1-0 Rangers lead.
The Red Sox put two men on again in the fourth, with Ortiz walking on four pitches and Darnell McDonald singling in his first at-bat of the game after replacing Jackson in right field to start the inning. Once again Harrison beat Crawford, getting out of the inning on a flyout to the triangle.
Harrison finally tired in the seventh, allowing a one-out infield single to Crawford and a ground-rule double to Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Marco Scutaro drove in both with a single to right, but Harrison got out of the inning with the Rangers still up 9-2.
The Red Sox added two runs during a meaningless eighth inning. Youkilis’ double down the third base line following an Adrian Gonzalez (0-for-3) walk put men on second and third, and Gonzalez scored when Ortiz hit a grounder to Moreland, who was playing in the shift. Reliever Mike Gonzalez did not cover first on the play, and Ortiz reached on the RBI single.
McDonald’s sacrifice fly to right scored Youkilis to make it 9-4, but no more Red Sox reached base in the game.
Harrison picked up his 11th win of the season, pitching seven innings of two-run baseball. He gave up seven hits and two walks while striking out five.