After the Red Sox honored the 2004 “Idiots” that broke the 86-year World Series drought, the 2014 squad got back to work in hopes of winning three straight games for the first time this year.
John Lackey, who got a tough luck no-decision last Friday against the Rays, was the perfect starter to get them there, hurling one of his best games of the year on the way to the Sox’ 4-0 win.
Lackey cruised through the first four innings of the ballgame, allowing only three hits while picking up six strikeouts.
His biggest trouble didn’t come until the fifth, when Tommy La Stella singled with one out, then Jason Heyward singled with two outs to put two runners on, but Lackey struck out B.J. Upton to end the Atlanta threat.
After allowing back-to-back singles with one out in the seventh, Lackey was lifted in favor of Chris Capuano after his pitch count rose to 105. Capuano got Jason Heyward to ground out to second, walked B.J. Upton, and then got Freddie Freeman to ground out with the bases loaded to get out of the jam.
Lackey’s final line on the night was 6.1 innings pitched, allowing no runs on eight hits with no walks and nine strikeouts. This was the third time this season that Lackey had no walks and nine or more strikeouts, but the only one in which he allowed no runs.
Lackey had phenomenal command all night, throwing 77 of his 105 pitches for strikes. He struck out at least one batter in each of the first six innings, including striking out two in the first, fourth, and fifth.
The Red Sox’ offense also came through for him as they couldn’t in Tampa, scoring three runs while he was in the game, then another after he left to insure that he would still pick up the win.
Lackey improved to 6-3 on the season with the victory; it took him until July 2 to get his sixth win in 2013. He hasn’t allowed a run in his past two starts, allowing 13 hits and one walk in that span of 13.1 innings.