THERE’S YOUR BALLGAME (12:52, END 9, 8-2 A’s)
Youkilis, Drew, and Bay went in order. The Sox had six hits tonight, and the A’s had 12. The Red Sox drop to 2-5. Lester drops to 0-2.
MORE INSURANCE (12:46, END 8, 8-2 A’s)
Saito started the inning by walking Cust, giving up a double to Suzuki, and yielding a sacrifice fly to Crosby. He settled from there, but the Red Sox need six runs to extend the game. Brad Ziegler is on.
CASILLA CRUISES (12:32, MID 8, 7-2 A’s)
Jacoby Ellsbury pinch hit for Baldelli to lead off the inning against righthanded reliever Santiago Casilla. Ellsbury struck out swinging on a 2-2 pitch at his ankles. Pedroia lined to second. Ortiz struck out. This Casilla character has some pretty good stuff. This seems like an awfully lifeless loss for Game No. 7.
If the Red Sox lose tonight, it will be their worst seven-game start since they also started 2-5 in 1996. Also, only the Cleveland Indians will have a worse record among American League teams. Also, there are 155 games remaining. Deep breaths.
A’s ADD ON (12:22, BOT 7, 7-2 A’s)
Holliday tripled to the corner in right off Saito, making the odds on a Red Sox comeback even longer. Saito stranded Holliday by striking out Garciaparra on a pitch in the dirt.
LOPEZ DONE (12:17, BOT 7, 6-2 A’s)
Lopez couldn’t get out of the inning. He hit Giambi with a pitch, and exited so Takashi Saito could pitch to righthander Matt Holliday.
LOPEZ IN FOR LESTER (12:14, BOT 7, 6-2 A’s)
Lester is finished after all. He allowed six runs in six innings on 10 hits and no walks while striking out five. He also hit a batter. The 10 hits and six earned runs tie career highs for Lester.
Lopez has started by retiring Sweeney on a chopper back to him and Cabrera on a ground ball to third.
CARTER DEBUTS, INNING STALLS (12:11, MID 7, 6-2 A’s)
Lowell reached first on a fielder’s choice to third, and Varitek flied to center. Chris Carter, who grew up not far from here in Concord, Calif., pinch hit for Green, his first at-bat of the season. He swung for the downs on the first pitch he saw, and he eventually struck out looking at a backdoor curveball.
Gil Velazquez, who replaced Jed Lowrie on the active roster, replaced Carter and is in at short.
BAY KNOCKS OUT BRADEN (12:02, TOP 7, 6-2 A’s)
Bay led off the seventh with a single to center, and Oakland manager Bob Geren replaced Braden, who had thrown 95 pitches, with righthander Michael Wuertz. He’ll face Lowell.
LESTER FINISHED? (11:59, END 6, 6-2 A’s)
Lester’s night might be over. He’s thrown roughly 105 pitches. Then again, no Red Sox are warming at the moment in the bullpen. If he’s done, Lester finished strong. Suzuki grounded to second, Crosby popped to short, and Davis grounded to short. Lester’s easiest inning of the night, without question.
SOX RALLY STALLS (11:51, MID 6, 6-2 A’s)
Finally given the chance to hit with a couple runners on base, Youkilis struck out, swinging through a 2-2, 75-mph changeup from Braden. Drew followed by lifting the first pitch he saw high to center field for the third out.
SOX RUMBLING (11:47, TOP 6, 6-2 A’s)
After Braden retired Green, Baldelli drew Boston’s first walk of the night. Pedroia got a single to snap a 3-for-23 slump, but the infield single barely made it past the pitcher’s mound; it was like a swinging bunt, really. But it counted and put two men on for Ortiz. For the Red Sox at the moment, that qualified as a rally, especially after Ortiz went to 3-1. After Braden got Ortiz to swing through an outside slider for strike two, Ortiz poked a single to center, plating Baldelli.
And now Youkilis, just the man the Sox want, is up.
NOMAR GOES DEEP (11:35, BOT 5, 6-1 A’s)
Lester seemed headed for a nice, quick inning, getting Giambi on a grounder to Green and Holliday on a lazy fly to right. Then Garciaparra rocketed a 1-0 pitch on a line over the left field fence. Lester’s pitch count is above 90 now with Cust batting. Javier Lopez is warming.
SOX GO QUIETLY (11:29, MID 5, 5-1 A’s)
Braden added to his string of easy innings. Bay grounded to short, Lowell flied to left, and Varitek flied to right. He’s retired 11 of the past 12 hitters he’s faced and has a three-hitter working.
Lester takes the mound having thrown 78 pitches. If he’s not somewhat economical here, this could be his last inning.
LESTER GETS PICKY (11:22, END 4, 5-1 A’s)
The bad news: Lester allowed back-to-back singles that inning, to Sweeney and Cabrera. The good news: He picked both of them off to end the inning. I wonder when the last time consecutive outs were made via the pickoff. Anyone remember seeing that before? Not me.
YOUKILIS HOT, SOX NOT (11:14, MID 4, 5-1 A’s)
Youkilis is 2 for 2 after doubling down the first base line, past Giambi, who moves about as swiftly as a traffic cone over there. The rest of his teammates are 1 for 12. Pedroia flied to right, Ortiz flied to left, and Drew grounded to first. Four Red Sox in the lineup tonight — Ortiz, Pedroia, Lowell, and Drew — are now batting less than .200 for the year.
CALMING DOWN (11:05, END 3, 5-1 A’s)
Lester brushed off that disaster of a second inning with a 1-2-3 inning. He struck out Cust and induced ground outs from Suzuki and Crosby. Pedroia, Ortiz, and Youkilis are due up for the Red Sox. They could use some production from the meat of the order, particularly from Pedroia and Ortiz, who are both 0 for 1 and entered batting .167 and .200, respectively.
SOX RESPOND WEAKLY (10:59, MID 3, 5-1 A’s)
Just like that, the Red Sox are retired. Jason Varitek, Green, and Baldelli went down in order.
Lester’s struggles so far this season are really an extension of spring training. In his final nine spring training innings, Lester allowed just two earned runs, but he walked nine.
LESTER ROUGHED UP (10:51, END 2, 5-1 A’s)
This was not the start Jon Lester envisioned for his season. After not making it past the fifth inning of his first start, a loss to the Rays, Lester has been lit for five runs in the second inning tonight. The damage: Jack Cust led off with a home run to left-center, a deep shot off the back wall. Kurt Suzuki singled. Lester hit Crosby. Rajai Davis struck out, as did Ryan Sweeney. Cabrera singled just past the diving Pedroia. Giambi doubled just under the diving Bay’s glove. Matt Holliday singled home Giambi. Garciaparra struck out to end the inning, so Lester did strike out the side. That’s probably of little solace.
YOUKILIS GIVES SOX LEAD (10:27, TOP 2, 1-0)
Could Kevin Youkilis be any more on fire? After he entered the game hitting .522, Youkilis launched a 2-2 pitch in his first at bat over the scoreboard in left, his second home run in two games. That’s two home runs and four RBIs for Youkilis for the season. J.D. Drew, starting against a lefthander for the first time this season, singled to left. After Jason Bay flied out, Mike Lowell is at bat with one out and one on.
NOMAR FACES SOX (10:21, END 1, 0-0)
Lester recorded two quick outs, a Ryan Sweeney grounder to Nick Green and an Orlando Cabrera fly to right. Jason Giambi started a small two-out rally by shooting a ground ball to the left side, where no defender stood — the Red Sox shifted over. Matt Holliday sent a single through Lester’s legs to center, bringing up old friend Nomar Garciaparra. Lester broke Nomar’s bat, and the resulting flare was caught in shallow left on the run by Green.
BRADEN BRINGS IT (10:14, MID 1, 0-0)
We’re underway at Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, and Dallas Braden tore through the first inning. Rocco Baldelli struck out on three pitches, all low strikes. Dustin Pedroia rocked a fly to deep center, where Rajai Davis tracked it down. David Ortiz grounded into the shift at Bobby Crosby, who’s making his first career start at second base.
Let’s see what Jon Lester can do in his second start of the season.