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Not much luck for John Lackey

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  August 6, 2013 12:50 AM

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HOUSTON — John Lackey pitched into the seventh inning tonight. He allowed two runs on eight hits, walked two, and struck out 10.

On most nights, he'd be celebrated for that. This time, he limped out of the clubhouse with his ninth loss of the season as the Astros beat the lifeless Red Sox, 2-0.

“I thought John threw a great game,” Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. “He kept us in there the whole game. We just didn’t score any runs for him.”

That has been a season-long trend. Lackey has a 3.21 earned run average but the Red Sox are 9-11 in his starts. The Sox have been shut out nine times this season, four times with Lackey on the mound, including three of his last six starts.

Lackey has gone at least six innings and allowed three or fewer earned runs in 14 starts this season. He is 6-4 in those games with four no-decisions. The team is only 8-6 in those games.

The Sox have averaged 3.45 runs in the 20 games Lackey has started. Compare that to the other primary starters this season:

Ryan Dempster: 6.22 runs (22 starts)
Jon Lester: 5.34 runs (23 starts)
Clay Buchholz: 5.25 runs (12 starts)
Felix Doubront: 4.90 runs (20 starts)
Others: 4.59 runs (17 starts)

“It’s all about winning the game more than anything,” Lackey said. “I can only control the way I pitch. Got to go out there and compete again in five days and try and get us another chance to win.”

Lackey had a scare in the second inning when he fielded a tapper back to the mound off the bat of Matt Dominguez and made an off-balance throw to first base for the third out.

He rolled his left ankle on the play and limped back to the dugout. The Red Sox quickly got rookie Rubby De La Rosa up in the bullpen, but Lackey came back out for the third inning after a quick tape job.

“I’ve done that several times in different sports. It definitely didn’t feel great but I wasn’t going nowhere,” Lackey said after throwing 113 pitches.

Lackey was walking gingerly after the game but said he would make his next start.

“I’ll be all right,” he said.

Also:

• Mike Napoli was 0 for 4 and left five runners on base. Napoli is hitting .215 with runners in scoring position and has struck out 145 times overall, only 32 away from matching the franchise single-season record set by Mark Bellhorn in 2004.

• Josh Fields, a righthander the Astros took from the Sox in the Rule 5 draft, struck out the last four Red Sox for his first career save.

• Astros rookie Brett Oberholtzer threw seven shutout innings. The 24-year-old lefthander made his second major league start after throwing seven shutout innings against the Baltimore Orioles last Wednesday. In two starts against AL East contenders, Oberholtzer has allowed seven hits over 17 scoreless innings and struck out eight with two walks.

Oberholtzer is the first pitcher to go least seven innings without allowing a run in his first two starts since Marty Bystrom of the Phillies in 1980.

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