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Defense springs a leak for Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  May 9, 2013 11:59 PM

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Pitchers go through fielding drills nearly every day in spring training, a routine that usually ends once the season starts. But the Red Sox had their pitchers on the field before a game during their last homestand to brush up on fundamentals.

John Lackey, who was starting that day, was excused.

Still, Lackey knows better than to make the kind of mistake he did on Thursday night. His throwing error in the sixth inning led to four unearned runs and a 5-3 victory for the Minnesota Twins.

The Sox have lost three straight and six of their last seven games and for the first time this season have dropped into second place in the American League East. The slide has coincided with sloppy defense. The Sox committed two errors on Thursday and have 11 in their last seven games.

“We’ve got to take care of the ball. That’s a big part of winning ballgames, pitching and defense,” second baseman Dustin Pedroia said.

The Sox committed three errors in their first 17 games. They have 19 in 18 games since.

Lackey (1-3) handled the pitching part pretty well, going a season-best seven innings and striking out eight. He walked one and allowed six hits.

“Felt I reached really well,” Lackey said. “It’s not real complicated. Just got to make that one play and win the game.”

Also:

• David Ortiz was 0 for 5, ending five innings and leaving five runners on base. He is hitless in his last 13 at-bats, stranding 10 runners. Regression was inevitable after Ortiz hit .440 with 17 RBIs in his first 13 games off the disabled list.

But Ortiz believes his cold streak will end soon because he hit the ball hard in his last two at-bats. He ended the game with a line drive right at first baseman Justin Morneau.

“Baseball gods take cover,” he said. “You know what I’m saying? Nothing much you can do. I can tell you one thing, that ball found Morneau. He was right there.”

• Mike Napoli has 16 doubles, the most in the majors.

• Lackey has allowed three earned runs or fewer in all four of his starts. He also has struck out 24 in 22.1 innings.

• Stephen Drew has 11 RBIs in his last 11 games.

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