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Red Sox Notebook

Lackey met his ‘mismatch’

John Lackey needed 115 pitches to improve to 5-1 in his last six starts. John Lackey needed 115 pitches to improve to 5-1 in his last six starts. (Barry Chin/Globe Staff)
By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / August 7, 2011

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Red Sox fans probably have found it easy to forget that John Lackey once won the deciding game of a World Series, made the All-Star Game, and led the American League in earned run average.

Some of the games he pitched earlier this season may not indicate it, but the Sox did not sign him to a lucrative free agent contract on a whim.

So while many may have viewed yesterday’s game pitting Lackey against Yankees ace CC Sabathia as a mismatch, he certainly did not.

“I’ve won some pretty big games,’’ Lackey said.

The righthander proved his point, going six effective innings in a 10-4 victory. Lackey (10-8) allowed three runs on six hits, keeping the Yankees down enough for the Red Sox to go to work on Sabathia.

“Lackey did a great job and gave us a chance to win. Six innings and three runs, that’s all you can ask for,’’ Adrian Gonzalez said.

Lackey needed 115 pitches to get through his outing. But he did enough.

“I squeezed about 10 games worth of pitches into about six innings,’’ Lackey said, laughing. “They make you grind. They’re a lot like our lineup. You can’t make mistakes. It’s a thin line. You want to throw strikes but you can’t throw just any kind of strike.’’

After a horrid start, Lackey is 5-1 with a 3.58 ERA in his last six starts and is looking like a pitcher worthy of starting the third or fourth game of a playoff series.

In the right place Until yesterday, the only experience Mike Aviles had in the outfield came in the summer of 2002 when he played for the Newburgh Generals of the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League.

But Aviles willingly went to Fenway Park’s expansive right field against the Yankees. An infielder by trade, Aviles just wanted to get in the lineup.

When the Sox acquired Aviles from the Royals last week, manager Terry Francona asked him about the idea of playing some right field to increase his value to the team. He liked the answer.

“He came right back at me and said, ‘One thing you need to know about me, I’m arrogant and I’m confident,’ ’’ Francona said.

Aviles likes that his new manager is willing to take a chance.

“By talking to him, I think anything’s possible,’’ Aviles said. “He just wants to win no matter how it is.’’

Aviles caught a fly ball to right field off the bat of Eric Chavez in the second inning. That was his only chance in the field. He also went 1 for 3 and scored a run.

Lowrie ready Jed Lowrie started at shortstop for Triple A Pawtucket, going 3 for 5 with three doubles and two RBIs. It was his fifth rehabilitation game and likely his last. The Sox plan to activate Lowrie tomorrow in Minnesota.

“He’s in pretty good shape,’’ Francona said. “When he comes back, it’ll certainly help [Marco Scutaro]. We can kind of mix and match both.’’

Lowrie has been out since mid-June because of nerve damage in his left shoulder.

Drew improved J.D. Drew started swinging at balls off a tee on Friday, his sore left shoulder having improved enough. Drew has been out since July 20. “We’ll see how it progresses,’’ Francona said. “I don’t think he feels like it’s going to be terribly long. From our side of it, he’s been down a while. We want to make sure he’s not only able to come back but come back and be productive.’’ . . . Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who is on the disabled list recovering from knee surgery, took batting practice at the team complex in Tampa. According to the Associated Press, he hit several home runs among 43 swings. He also took some swings off a tee and soft toss.

Charged with an error The game was briefly delayed in the sixth inning when an unfortunate beer vendor dropped his tray of suds a few feet from the Yankees dugout. Red Sox third base coach Tim Bogar helped scoop up the stray cans before the game got going again. “I’m just glad Bogie didn’t grab one and start drinking it,’’ Francona said. A Sox spokesman said the vendor would not have to pay for the beers . . . Lackey hit Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner with pitches, giving him 14 on the season. That’s the most in the majors and the most he has ever had in a season . . . The Sox made some impressive plays. Gonzalez snapped up a hard-hit ball down the first base line in the second inning from Mark Teixeira and fed Lackey for the out. Then in the sixth, third baseman Kevin Youkilis made a diving catch of a line drive hit by Chavez . . . Sox legend Johnny Pesky, 91, made an appearance at the park and received a warm ovation from the crowd.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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