SOX WIN (11:48, END 9, 8-4 SOX)
Papelbon closed out the wildest game of the Sox’ season, stranding Omar Vizquel at third to keep the frame scoreless.
The Sox moved 1 1/2 games ahead of the Rangers in the most unusual manner. The Red Sox slogged into the ninth trailing, 4-2. They scored six runs and pounded seven hits in the ninth; in their previous 17 innings, they had eight hits total. The hero was Victor Martinez’s, whose two-out, two-strike, two-run double to right put the Red Sox ahead and opened the floodgates. His blow came only after Clay Buchholz made a base-running blunder and a pinch runner and nearly cost the Sox the comeback.
ON COMES PAPELBON (11:36, MID 9, 8-4 SOX)
After Jason Jennings walked Lowell, Ortiz popped up to end the inning he began. The Sox have a few changes to account for the Buchholz-for-Varitek move. Martinez is catching, Casey Kotchman is in at first, and Jonathan Papelbon is the pitcher.
DREW SPREADS IT OUT (11:30, TOP 9, 8-4 SOX)
Drew blasted a two-run home run 383 feet over the fence, a two-run home run that knocked Francisco out of the game. Have the Sox played a more crazier inning all season?
One note on Buchholz: Francona pegged him because his bench was short and Buchholz possessed the credentials. He might be the fastest player on the team. In high school, he ran a 4.3-second 40-yard dash, and several college football teams recruited him as a defensive back.
MARTINEZ MAKES IT MOOT (11:27, TOP 9, 6-4 SOX)
After a wild ninth inning, the Sox have come all the way back. Martinez ripped a two-strike double into the rightfield corner off of Francisco. Martinez fouled several pitches before yanking the low, 2-2 heater down the line. What a huge hit for Martinez, who has shown an aptitude in the clutch. And then Bay followed with an RBI single to righ. The Sox are all of a sudden pouring it on, and Jonathan Papelbon is up in the ‘pen.
BUCHHOLZ BLUNDERS ON BASES (11:21, TOP 9, 4-3 RANGERS)
Pedroia ripped a ball off the leftfield that should have scored two runs, expect Buchholz’s indecision — and inexperience — cost him on the bases. He ran back toward second after the ball hit the wall, thinking it had been caught. With Ellsbury just behind him, he reversed course, but not in time. The relay from Murphy to Andrus to Teagarden beat his head first slide. Martinez is the last chance. What an unreal play.
SOX RALLYING (11:17, TOP 9, 4-3 RANGERS)
The Red Sox have no outs, already with one run in. Varitek beat out an infield single on a grounded Vizquel gloved up the midde, and Ellsbury rolled a single through the middle. Up came Chris Woodward, who failed twice trying to sac bunt and eventually struck out. Pedroia is up with the game on the line. Also, Clay Buchholz just came on to pinch run for Varitek.
ORTIZ DOUBLES (11:11, TOP 9, 4-2 RANGERS)
After speaking with Don Kalkstein and then sharing some bold thoughts before tonight’s game, Ortiz has played one of his best in some time. He smacked a double into the rightfield corner to lead off the ninth. Here’s Varitek.
NOTHING DOING (10:58, MID 8, 4-2 RANGERS)
The Sox have three outs left and Takashi Saito is on the mound. Martinez led off the eighth with a walk, but the Sox could not get anything moving. Bay struck out swinging. Drew hit into a fielder’s choice. Lowell struck out looking to end the inning.
BARD Ks JONES (10:44, END 7, 4-2 RANGERS)
Bard ended the inning by getting Jones swinging. Interestingly, on 3-2, Bard threw a vicious, 83-mph curve that snapped outside and in the dirt. Jones swung and missed wildly. C.J. Wilson is on for the Rangers. He’ll face Martinez, Bay, and Drew in the eighth.
RANGERS ADD ON (10:40, BOT 7, 4-2 RANGERS)
A lead-off walk came back to bite Bard. Teagarden walked and moved to second on a sac bunt by Andrus. Vizquel singled sharply into left. Young’s sac fly to the rightfield corner scored Teagarden. Bard then walked Byrd to pitch to Jones with two outs and men on first and second. John Farrell came out for a chat.
STRETCH TIME (10:29, MID 7, 3-2 RANGERS)
Pedroia flied to left. The Sox have four hits tonight, the same total they had yesterday. Bard is on to replace Lester, trailing by one.
ELLSBURY ENTERS (10:25, TOP 7, 3-2 RANGERS)
To lead off the inning, Jacoby Ellsbury pinch hit for Green and grounded out to second base. Reddick followed with a deep fly ball, and Hamilton caught with his heels at the fence his glove sticking up in the air. Two down, and Pedroia is up.
LESTER RESPONDS (10:20, END 6, 3-2 RANGERS)
After Jones’s squib single, Lester came back to strike out the next three batters. Lester has 11 strike outs tonight, and his six double-digit strikeout games this season are the most since 1954, the farthest the Sox’ research goes back. Daniel Bard was warming for the Sox that inning, and since Lester is at about 115 pitches, Lester’s almost certainly done.
Here comes Green, Reddick, and Pedroia for the Sox, who need one run. Darren O’Day is on for Texas.
LESTER LOSES LEAD (10:11, BOT 6, 3-2 RANGERS)
That didn’t take long. The Red Sox didn’t record an out before the Rangers took back the lead. Byrd led off with a double off the centerfield wall, a ball Reddick nearly caught, and might have had he timed his jump just a bit better. Andruw Jones delivered a bloop single into center, and the Rangers lead. Hamilton up, no outs.
ORTIZ TIES IT (10:03, MID 6, 2-2)
With the count full, Ortiz sent a missile over the fence in leftcenter, his 16th home run of the year and a meaningful blast for both him and the Sox. The Sox snapped out of their offensive doldrums, and Ortiz snapped his 44-at-bat streak without an extra base hit. The two-run shot also tied the game. Varitek grounded to short to end the inning, but we’ve got a brand new game.
Lester is out to start the sixth.
GUARDADO TO FACE ORTIZ (9:59, TOP 6, 2-0 RANGERS)
Millwood exited with two outs in the sixth, after he issued his fifth walk of the day to Drew. Ortiz is up, facing Everyday Eddie Guardado.
QUICK ONE LESTER (9:52, END 5, 2-0 RANGERS)
Lester got just what he needed, a 1-2-3 inning that took him only 11 pitches. He struck out Andrus. Vizquel drove a ball to the gap in left-center, but Reddick chased it down and made a nice catch. Young flied to left. Lester has thrown 90 pitches, and he may well pitch at least six innings.
MILLWOOD STIFLES SOX (9:47, MID 5, 2-0 RANGERS)
Didn’t you think we were done with scoreless inning streaks? The Sox are back up to a 17-inning stretch without a scoring a run. Green never moved past first, the biggest threat coming from Martinez, who pushed Byrd back to the edge of the warning track with a fly to center.
LESTER ENDS THREAT (9:37, END 4, 2-0 RANGERS)
Lester strcuk out Teagarden after a long at-bat. Lester has pitched at least six innings in eight of his last nine starts, but that may be a difficult order tonight. He’s thrown 79 pitches in four innings.
Also, Saltalamacchia left the game with numbness in his right hand. Green led off the fifth with a walk. Millwood has not been efficient, throwing 89 pitches so far.
CHANGE FOR THE RANGERS (9:33, BOT 4, 2-0 RANGERS)
With two outs, Taylor Teagarden has replaced Jarrod Saltalamacchia at the plate. With Byrd on second and Josh Hamilton on first, Teagarden has a chance to deliver a big hit.
VARITEKK (9:21, MID 4, 2-0 RANGERS)
The Sox put another two runners on base, the third time in four innings they’ve done so. Again, they had nothing to show for it. J.D. Drew reached base on an infield single, and David Ortiz walked for the second straight time with two outs. Up came Jason Varitek, who struck out swinging, his second K of the night.
LESTER THROUGH THREE (9:07, END 3, 2-0 RANGERS)
The Sox turned a double play for themselves after falling victim twice in the first three innings. Vizquel led off with an opposite-field single, but Pedroia-to-Green-Martinez on a grounder by Young wiped him out. Byrd flied to right.
FEEL THE GLOVE (8:59, MID 3, 2-0 RANGERS)
Omar Vizquel proved why he’s probably the best infielder of this generation. With one out, Victor Martinez grounded a ball up the playing. Playing second, Vizquel gloved the ball and using only his glove deflected to Elvis Andrus, who came across the bag and fired to first to complete the double play.
CATCHING UP (8:53, TOP 3, 2-0 RANGERS)
Michael Young has the Rangers off to a fast start against Jon Lester and the Sox in a very important series. Young drilled a two-home run in the first inning, giving the Rangers the lead. The Sox put two men on base in each of the first two innings. J.D. Drew struck out to end the first, and Nick Green lined into a tough-luck double play to end the second.