SOX LOSE (10:02, END 9, 5-3 METS)
Matsuzaka’s return ends in a loss. Johan Santana gets the win, Rodrgiuez the save. The Sox went 1-2-3, all fly balls to the outfield.
LAST CHANCE (9:55, MID 9, 5-3 METS)
Bard retired the Mets in order, two liners and one ground ball. The Red Sox now face Francisco Rodriguez, whom they have owned over the years in the playoffs when he pitched for the Angels. Varitek, Lugo, and Ellsbury are due up.
SOX DOWN QUIETLY (9:48, END 8, 5-3)
Parnell was just as effective as Santana could have been. Bay grounded to third, Drew struck out swinging, and Lowell flied to center.
Bard is in after Masterson allowed one run in three innings.
CAUGHT STEALING (9:42, MID 8, 5-3)
Masterson faced the minimum while Bard warmed in the bullpen. Wright grounded to short, Reed singled, and Santos struck out. With Martinez batting, Reed attempted to steal second, but Varitek gunned him down.
Good news for the Red Sox: Santana is done after seven. He struck out eight and allowed six hits and a walk. Bobby Parnell replaces his him, and he’ll face to lead off.
DON’T MESS WITH THE JOHAN (9:33, END 7, 5-3 METS)
The Sox went down in order in the seventh, including a couple strikeouts, giving him eight for the night. Pedroia led off with a fly ball that seemed like it might be a Wall scraped, but Sheffield caught it at the warning track. Santana then struck out Ortiz and Youkilis for the third time each, giving him eight Ks for the night. He’s thrown 105 pitches or so.
Masterson out for his third inning.
SPEED KILLS (9:24, TOP 7, 5-3 METS)
The Mets added a run thanks to two bunts and a single. Castillo led off by dropping down a great bunt, toward the left of home plate right between Masterson and Varitek. Once on first, Murphy moved him over with another bunt. Pagan rolled a ball up the middle, and it sneaked into center past a diving Lugo. Beltran flied to center. Two out, man on, Sheffield is up.
WASTED CHANCE (9:19, END 6, 4-3 METS)
The Red Sox had two men in scoring position with one out, but they couldn’t tie the game. After Lugo’s pop up, Ellsbury got into an 0-2 count, took a ball, fouled one off, and then grounded to short. That was good move considering how Martinez has played tonight. He charged and threw to first. The throw bounced, but Murphy made a nice scoop to end the inning.
Masterson is still pitching, and no one is warming in the bullpen.
SOMETHING BREWING (9:15, BOT 6, 4-3 METS)
Drew led off with a hard single to right, the first of his career against Santana (in five at-bats). Lowell popped to shallow right, where Castillo made the catch. Varitek grounded to short, and Martinez fielded the ball going toward third. He fired to second, but his throw bounced and went into rightfield, allowing Varitek to take second and Drew to take third. With Lugo up and one out, the infiled was in. He popped to shallow right, and Castillo made another catch. Two down, two men in scoring position, here comes Ellsbury.
FAST-ACTING RELIEF (9:07, MID 6, 4-3 METS)
In his first relief appearance in more than a month, Masterson was sharp. Wright led off with a walk, but the Mets couldn’t get anything going. Jeremy Reed bounced to first, which Youkilis made a nice, spinning play on while firing to second for an out. Masterson struck out Santos swinging at a 91-mph sinker, then got Martinez looking at a 95-mph heater down the pipe.
AN EVENTFUL INNING, DICE IS DONE (8:56, END 5, 4-3 METS)
Pedroia led off with an infield single, a grounder deep in the shortstop-third hole that Martinez did well just to get to. Ortiz followed with a 4-6-3 double play. Not a good day for Ortiz, who has two Ks and a double play.
Then came the near fireworks. Santana hit Youkilis on the hand with a pitch. While Youkilis was shaking his hand in pain, Santana said something to him. Youkilis mouthed something back, and on TV, at the risk of reading lips, it looked like he said, “I didn’t say [expletive].” As Youkilis walked to first, he and Santana exchanged more words. Both dugouts brimmed at the top step, but cooler heads prevailed and everyone stayed in. Bay struck out, and the inning ended.
Matsuzaka is now out, replaced by Justin Masterson. Matsuzaka threw 80 pitches, 50 for strikes, which is pretty economical by his standards.
HEADS UP (8:44, MID 5, 4-3 METS)
Matsuzaka gave up a lead off walk, but the Red Sox erased it with a strange, and alert, play. With Murphy on first, Pagan laid down a sacrifice bunt. Matsuzaka charged and fielded it, then fired to Youkilis. Lowell had come in from third, leaving the base open, and Murphy tried to sneak into third. Youkilis noticed him immediately, and Lowell had plenty of time to catch Youkilis’s throw, shuffle, and dive to third and tag out Murphy. The inning continued when Beltran’s grounder to second was dropped by Pedroia, his second error this season. Matsuzaka ended the inning when he struck out Sheffield swinging at a slider.
SOX STRIKE BACK (8:34, BOT 4, 4-3 METS)
After Bay’s walk, Drew replaced him with an fielder’s choice. Lowell singled to left. With two men on, just the man you want up came to the plate — Varitek, of course. He laced a ball right at Martinez at short. The ball, a rocket, deflected off his wrist and toward the leftfield corner with really strong and odd force. Both Drew and Lowell ran home to score. Lugo followed with a pop foul to Wright. Two out, man on second.
MATSUZAKA GETS OUT (8:26, BOT 4, 4-1 METS)
Castillo grounded to Pedroia, who flipped to Lugo to end the inning. For the Mets, Ryan Church is out of the game with an apparent injury and Angel Pagan has replaced him in right. Bay walked to lead off the fourth.
METS ADD ON (8:18, TOP 4, 4-1 METS)
Matsuzaka had a chance to get out of the inning when Jeremy Reed grounded to Pedroia. He fired to Lugo, who stood flat-footed at the bag, which did not allow him to make a strong throw. Reed beat it by a step, which led to two more runs — Santos and Ramirez both singled, Santos to left and Ramirez to center. This has unraveled fast for Matsuzaka. John Farrell came put for a visit, and Daniel Bard is getting loose in the bullpen.
IN A JAM (8:12, TOP 4, 2-1 METS)
Matsuzaka was forced to pitch with men on base for the first time, and it didn’t go well. He gave up a one-double to right to Beltran, which started the trouble. He walked Sheffield, his first and only his second three-ball count. Wright followed with a single up the middle, which extended his hitting streak to 13. Men on first and second, one down.
There’s a “Let’s Go Mets!” chant starting in the park, met with slight resistance in the form of a “Let’s Go Red Sox!” chant.
IT’S A DUEL (8:03, END 3, 1-1)
Santana shut down the Sox after Pedroia’s double. Ortiz struck out looking. Ortiz wasn’t happy with the call, and he let home plate umpire Paul Nauert know on his way back to the dugout. Youkilis hung tough in an eight-pitch at-bat, but Santana struck him out on a filthy, 85-mph slider that dove inside.
DICE ROLLING (7:57, BOT 3, 1-1)
Matsuzaka kept the Mets guessing in another 1-2-3 inning, his second in three frames. Ramon Martinez drove Bay back to the warning track, and he made the catch in front of the Wall. Castillo struck out looking at a 92-mph fastball. Murhphy grounded to second. Very quick inning for Matsuzka.
With one out in the Red Sox’ half of the inning, Pedroia flied high to left. The ball scraped the Wall by the foul pole, giving him an easy double.
MORE POWER FROM THE CAPTAIN (7:50, END 2, 1-1)
What’s gotten into Jason Varitek? With two outs — after a J.D. Drew pop to second and a grounder to short by Mike Lowell — Varitek launched a 2-2 pitch over the Green Monster for his eighth home run this year, five shy of what he hit all of last season. Varitek has four homers in his past six games. Varitek has 28 hits in 115 at-bats. Amazingly, 17 of those 28 — 60.1 percent — have been for extra bases. Julio Lugo struck out looking at a nasty pitch.
FLY AWAY (7:42, MID 2, 1-0 METS)
Aside from that home run to Sheffield, Matsuzaka looked sharp in the second, getting three fly balls from David Wright, Jeremy Reed, and Omir Santos. Matsuzaka has been featuring his cutter, and he’s thrown 28 pitches. He said earlier this week that the team had not discussed any pitch counts with him.
SHEFF SPECIAL (7:34, TOP 2, 1-0 METS)
Matsuzka’s second inning: not as good as his first inning. Gary Sheffield hammered the first pitch high to left, way over the Green Monster and off the AAA sign, the one closest to the foul pole.
SANTANA GOES TO WORK (7:31, END 1, 0-0)
Santana took apart the Red Sox after the first two men reached. David Ortiz, who did not like the second called strike, struck out swinging on an inside pitch on 2-2. Kevin Youkilis flailed at an 81-mph changeup outside. Jason Bay grounded out to third.
SWEET 17 (7:22, BOT 1, 0-0)
Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a high chopper toward the right side, a ball that, with Ellsbury’s speed, gave Luis Castillo no chance. The infield single gives Ellsbury a 17-game hitting streak, one game shy of his career-best, which he set last year. Pedroia followed with a grounder to thrid, which his WBC teammate David Wright booted, allowing two men on with no outs against Johan Santana.
FAST START FOR MATSUZAKA (7:18, MID 1, 0-0)
Matsuzaka struck out Ryan Church on an 87-mph slider in the dirt and inside, and Carlos Beltran grounded the second pitch he saw to second base. Matsuzaka needed only 12 pitches, nine strikes, to get through the first. What have they done with the real Daisuke?
DICE STARTS STRONG (7:14, TOP 1, 0-0)
One batter, one strikeout for Daisuke Matsuzaka in his return. David Murphy swung through a high, 93-mph fastball on a 2-2 pitch. And the at-bat only took one minute!