The last time John Lackey was on the mound, rain forced him to leave way before he was ready.
He was rolling along, throwing six innings of one-hit ball against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field May 19 before downpours held the game up for nearly three hours.
The delay, obviously, put an end to his night, and when he took the mound at Fenway five days later it was practically déja vu.
Persistent showers pushed the first pitch of the Red Sox’ matchup with the Cleveland Indians back by 42 minutes.
When Lackey finally took the mound, the field was soaked.
Lackey picked up where he left off. He treated the Indians to a platter of fastballs, cutters, and curveballs over seven innings in the Sox’ 8-1 win, ringing up eight strikeouts for the third time this season.
With eight of the nine starters tallying at least one hit, the Sox gave Lackey plenty of breathing room from the outset, roughing up former teammate Justin Masterson for five earned runs in six innings.
Mike Carp hit a three-run home run in the second inning that put the Sox ahead to stay.
Dustin Pedroia (2 for 4) and Jacoby Ellsbury both had two-run singles in the seventh that helped bury the Indians, who came into Fenway hotter than any team in baseball over the past month.
Few pitchers had thrown the ball better than Masterson this season.
Beyond his 7-2 record and 2.83 ERA, he had outdueled both R.A. Dickey and David Price, the reigning Cy Young winners, wins that were symbols of a strong start to the season.
Facing the Sox was by no means uncharted territory for Masterson. He had seen his former team six times since being traded to Cleveland four years ago.
The results, for the most part, had gone his way. At one point, he had won three straight starts against his former team.
But this season, for as well as Masterson has pitched, the Sox have found ways squeeze runs out of him. They got to him for 11 hits and four runs and dealt him his first loss April 17.
He brought a streak of 19 scoreless innings into Thursday’s game, a stretch that earned him American League player of the week honors.
He extended it to 20 with a 1-2-3 first inning. He fanned Ellsbury with a 0-and-2 sinker and then get both Daniel Nava and Pedroia to bounce out to first.
After Nick Swisher dived for Pedroia’s grounder and made the toss to Masterson, Pedroia made sure to shoot a few playful words Masterson’s ways as they crossed paths.
But Masterson ran into trouble in the second.
It started, as most bad innings do, with a leadoff walk.
Considering it was David Ortiz, who was scorching over his previous 11 games — .372 with four home runs, including one Thursday — it didn’t seem like a bad idea.
But then Mike Napoli followed up with a line single to center.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia skied one to right, which under normal circumstances would seem harmless. But Ortiz was already feeling like a sports car after stealing third Wednesday night in Chicago, and he decided to turn on the jets again, tagging from second and beating Drew Stubbs’s throw with relative ease.
With runners on first and third,
Carp came to the plate with a streak of almost equal length to Masterson’s but opposite success, hitless in his last 21 at-bats.
With one swing, Carp snapped both streaks.
He saw a slider — one of Masterson’s best weapons all season — hanging out over the plate and blasted it over the Red Sox bullpen for a three-run home run, his third of the season.
The Sox’ four-run seventh inning was more than just insurance against a potent Cleveland lineup. It felt like an answer to the six-run inning the Indians hung on them Thursday night.
Ellsbury stroked a two-run single to right with the bases loaded. Pedroia plated two more with a two-out single, and the Sox were able to coast to a win that allowed them to take the season series from the Indians for the eighth time in the past 12 seasons. Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.