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John Lackey is on, yes, a bit of a roll

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  July 16, 2011 09:48 PM

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It's two games. Just two games. But let's give John Lackey credit for this:

12.1 innings
13 hits
3 earned runs
2 walks
14 strikeouts

Lackey wasn't great today but he was effective enough and overcame a first inning that saw his infield play like they were blindfolded.

He has pitched well in three of his last four starts. With Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz on the disabled list, a continued return to form by Lackey would help stabilize the rotation.

“We’d love for him to get hot. That would be one of the best things ever that could happen to us,” Terry Francona said.

Lackey is not an easy player to like. He flings his arms up when plays aren't made behind him and today even shouted a few choice words in the direction of Francona when he came out to get him in the sixth inning.

But most people would rather have a player who lets his emotions bubble over than a guy who treats the game like a day at the beach.

Lackey made no apologies. For him, every start is worth fighting for.

“You only get, if you’re healthy all year, 33 times to help the team. You have to take them pretty damn seriously,” he said.

With Jon Lester and Cay Buchholz on the DL, Andrew Miller teetering and Kyle Weiland getting rocked in his first start, the Red Sox need Lackey. Who knows, in three months you might even like him.

As to other stuff:

• Daniel Bard, as the kids say, is stupid good right now. He has not allowed a run in 20.2 innings going back to May 23. And keep in mind he pitches with the game on the line almost every time.

• Josh Reddick saluted his dad, brother and high school coach after he homered. Josh and his dad Ken drove down from Georgia after the break and were joined by the others yesterday. Until today, Ken Reddick had never seen his son homer in a big league game in person before."

“That was a big accomplishment,” said Reddick, who is from Guyton, Ga., about six hours away. “For them to actually see one live was a big feeling. Had to give them a little love after I hit it.”

And what a homer. The ball nearly hit the back wall of the dome. Josh is not a standard-issue "grind out every at-bat" Red Sox prospect. But when he connects, the ball has some oomph behind it.

• Dustin Pedroia, who homered and singled, has hit safely in 14 consecutive games and reached base safely in 26 straight, the longest active streak in the majors. He has hit seven home runs during the hit streak and this is the first time he has homered in three straight games in the same season.

“I’m not a home run hitter by any means,” Pedroia said. “I’m not trying to hit home runs at all. It might look like it, but trust me, I’m not.”

Pedroia has the highest OPS in baseball since he got his right knee checked out on June 9. Dr. Tom Gill takes a lot of guff from the amateur medical experts in Boston. But whatever he did with Dustin sure worked.

• Jacoby Ellsbury has 13 home runs. So does Alex Rodriguez. What were the odds of that on July 16?

Josh Beckett returns tomorrow. Come back for more. Thanks for reading.

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