(5:09, Game Over, Boston 6, Chicago 1)
Jonathan Papelbon preserved the 5-run lead without incident this afternoon with a harmless ninth inning (an Alexei Ramirez single) as the Red Sox ended their two-game losing streak before 32,134 at U.S.Cellular Field. Jon Lester (12-7) pitched 7 shutout innings in a super performance while Billy Wagner surrendered an 8th-inning solo homer to Ramon Castro for Chicago's only run. Mike Lowell contributed with a 2-run homer in the 4th to make it 3-0 at the time. The Sox also scored a run on Jason Bay's RBI single in the fifth. Jacoby Ellsbury reached base four times with a single, two infield hits and a walk. He also stole a base. Victor Martinez, who caught Lester, had two hits including a game-sealing three-run homer in the ninth. The finale of the series comes today as we watch to see whether Josh Beckett will get back on track.
(5:00, top ninth, Boston 6, Chicago 1)
Victor Martinez, hitting lefthanded, stroked a three-run bomb off Octavio Dotel. Alex Gonzalez led off the inning with a double off the left field fence and Ellsbury reached base for the fourth time with a walk. We're heading into the bottom of the ninth with Jonathan Papelbon on to pitch.
(4:42, bottom 8th, Boston 3, Chicago 1)
Little burp here. Wagner allowed a solo homer on a 3-1 count to No. 9 hitter and catcher Ramon Castro. A meaty fastball that even the dictator could hit. After two outs, Daniel Bard coming on to pitch to Paul Konerko.
(4:35, top eighth, Boston 3, Chicago 0)
Good day all around for Boston. Texas and the Yankees are both losing and Jon Lester has had a terrific outing. After seven innings - and Billy Wagner is coming on in the 8th - he allowed no runs, four hits, two walks, with eight strikeouts. He threw 122 pitches and really had dominating, overpowering stuff today. Victor Martinez did a nice job catching him.
(3:40, top fifth, Boston 3, Chicago 0
Make that 98 RBI for Jason Bay. The Sox leftfielder stroked a single to left in front of Carlos Quentin to drive home Ellsbury with the third Sox run. Pedroia had sacrificed Ellsbury over to second base on a bunt he nearly beat out. After two outs, Youkiis was hit with a pitch and Bay connected with a another big two-out base hit.
(3:13, top fourth, Boston 2, Chicago 0)
Mike Lowell continues to be one of the best mistake hitters in the league. John Danks made a big one - a first-pitch fastball riught down the middle - which Lowell sent to left field, just clearing the fence for a home run with Jason Bay (single) on board. Bad mistake by Danks, who had been matching Jon Lester through three innings.
(2:36, top second, Boston 0, Chicago 0)
Both teams left a pair of runners on base in the first inning. The Sox had Ellsbury (single) and Martinez (walk) on with one out and couldn't score off lefty John Danks. Jon Lester put the first two White Sox on base on a infield hit to shortstop by Podsednik and walk to Nix. But Pedroia made as nice of a baseball play as you'll see. He ranged out into short right field to make a catch of a Konerko with his back turned to the infield. He whirled around and made a nice throw to second base to nail Podsednik who had wandered too far off second base. Dye then flew out to end the inning.
(2:07, We're underway)
We'll see whether some fresh haircuts will get the Red Sox started in the right direction. Before this afternoon's game - the barber-to-the-athletes, Montro - cut the hair of Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Victor Martinez, Rocco Baldelli, Alex Gonzalez and Ramon Ramirez. There was originally some talk of Mohawks, but doesn't appear anyone went through with it. Tim Wakefield looked like he was limping slightly after his 6-inning stint on Saturday but for the most part looked better than after his last start. Wakefield will take it day-by-day leading up to his next scheduled start and he'll monitor whether he'll be OK to make it.