Sox win, 4-1
It’s over in Atlanta, where only David Ross’ homer in the ninth (against Jonathan Papelbon) prevented Atlanta’s ninth shutout of the year in a 4-1 Sox win. The Sox are now 3-1 on their current road trip and 17-6 in their last 23 games. They have a 4-1/2-game lead in the AL East pending the outcome of the game between the Yankees and Mets in New York.
Message from Gonzalez? (10:12 p.m., MID 9, SOX LEAD 4-0)
The Red Sox went down 1-2-3 on three strikeouts in the top of the ninth against Mike Gonzalez, but that wasn’t the story. The story was a fastball that sailed five feet behind Jacoby Ellsbury, who looked toward the mound with disbelief. Hmmm. What was that all about?
Braves whiff again (10:02 p.m., END 8, SOX LEAD 4-0)
It’s been this kind of night for Atlanta: the Braves put the first two men on in the eighth against Hideki Okajima, then saw Nos. 3-5 hitters Chipper Jones, Garret Anderson and Casey Kotchman strike out. Onto the ninth…
Sox add another pair (MID 8, SOX LEAD 4-0)
This is the kind of rally that makes you think the Red Sox belong in the National League: a walk by Nick Green, a sacrifice bunt by Julio Lugo (hitting for Beckett) and an RBI single by Dustin Pedroia. After a single by J.D. Drew, Jurrjens committed another balk (his second) before a passed ball by David Ross that allowed Pedroia to score.
Confused? You should be. It was a wacky inning that ended
Another 1-2-3 for Beckett (9:26 p.m., END 7, SOX LEAD 2-0)
OK, so Jurrjens hit – largely because there were two outs and no one on. Beckett promptly whiffed Jurrjens to end the inning, making it 16 innings against the Braves thios year without a run. With Hideki Okajima warming in the Boston `pen, we can’t help but wonder if Beckett is done for the night.
Should that be the case, Beckett’s ERA for the season stands at 3.48. He threw 98 pitches, a whopping 69 strikes (70.4 percent).
By the way, as promised, Jacoby Ellsbury is in for defensive purposes in center field with Mark Kotsay replacing Ortiz at first base.
Jurrjens finishes (9:18 p.m., MID 7, SOX LEAD 2-0)
In what was likely Jair Jurrjens’ last inning of work, the Red Sox managed only a two-out single by Mark Kotsay, who was then thrown out stealing to end the inning. With Jurrjens due up in the bottom of the seventh, the Braves are likely to pinch-hit.
Kotchman strikes again (END 6, SOX LEAD 2-0)
The Braves didn’t score, but Casey Kotchman managed yet another single against Beckett, this one with one out, to improve to 3 for 3. Francoeur promptly bounced into a 6-4-3 to end an inning in which Beckett needed just eight pitches, leaving him at 82 for the game.
Sox eke out another (9:05 p.m., MID 6, SOX LEAD 2-0)
No joke: Dustin Pedroia hit a high chopper to the left side. The ball bounced over Chipper Jones’ head and under the glove of shortstop Diory Hernandez, trickling into left field. At the urging of first base coach Tim Bogar, Pedroia headed to second and ended up with a stand-up double on a ball that traveled about 150 feet.
Then Jurrjens balked. Then the Braves played the left side of their infield in and the right side of their infield back (huh?), allowing J.D. Drew to pull a grounder to the right side that scored Pedroia and gave the Sox a 2-0 edge.
Maybe there’s a reason some teams are good and some teams are bad (or average).
Beckett holds fort (8:56 p.m., END 5, SOX LEAD 1-0)
Jair Jurrjens made Beckett work for the first out – he went to nine pitches before striking out – but Beckett stranded another in the fifth as the Sox preserved their 1-0 lead. Atlanta managed one base runner on a one-out single by Nate McLouth – another lefty – but Beckett prevented any damage. He’s up to 74 pitches through five and has failed to allow a run in 14 innings against the Braves this year.
Ortiz goes (very) deep (8:47 p.m., MID 5, SOX LEAD 1-0)
David Ortiz has five at-bats against Jair Jurrjens this season – and he now has two home runs. The latest came on a fastball over the inner third of the plate, a pitch Ortiz belted an estimated 15 rows into the bleachers in right field to give the Sox a 1-0 edge. The homer was Ortiz’ seventh in 46 at-bats and second on this trip.
As a point of note, Jurrjens entered this game having limited right-handed batters to a .195 average this season while lefties were hitting .315 against him. When Mark Kotsay followed Ortiz’ homer with a single to right, lefties improved to 3 for 7 with a walk against Jurrjens in the game. Righties are currently 0 for 10 with five strikeouts.
Braves strand two more (8:36 p.m., END 4, NO SCORE)
The Braves put runners on first and second with nobody out – singles by Garret Anderson and Kotchman (again) – but Beckett retired the next three batters to keep the game scoreless through four. Jeff Francoeur struck out again, looking silly while swinging at a breaking ball well off the plate.
So far, Beckett has allowed five base runners through the first four innings on four hits and a walk. With the exception of Diory Hernandez, all of the Braves to reach base have been left-handed hitters.
Jurrjens rolls on (8:25 p.m., MID 4, NO SCORE)
Jurrjens is manhandling the Red Sox right now. J.D. Drew actually led off this inning with a single, but Jurrjens struck out Kevin Youkilis and got Jason Bay to hit into a double play. Just like that, the inning was over. That’s a mere 44 pitches through four innings, a total that is downright Madduxesque.
Braves blow chance (8:16 p.m., END 3, NO SCORE)
If the Braves end up losing this one in a close, low-scoring game, they’ll remember the third inning. No. 8 hitter Diory Hernandez led off with a double, but remained at second when Jurrjens popped out on the first pitch of a sacrifice bunt attempt. (Ugh.) Atlanta ended up with runners at first and third with two out for Chipper Jones, who then took a called third strike.
For his career, Jones is now just 5 for 30 against Beckett, a .167 average. Beckett is up to 38 pitches through three, including 26 strikes.
By the way, the first three innings took 40 minutes, thanks partially to the efforts of home plate umpire Wally Bell, who appears to have a rather wide strike zone.
Mowin’ ’em down (8:06 p.m., MID 3, NO SCORE)
Well, Jair Jurrjens isn’t having much tyrouble with the Red Sox so far. Three more up, three more down, including strikeouts of Beckett and Pedroia. Through three innings, Jurrjens has thrown 33 pitches, including 20 strikes. The Red Sox have hit one ball out of the infield – a second flyout to left by Jason Bay.
A dozen for a dozen (8:01 p.m., END 2, NO SCORE)
A dozen pitches for Jurrjens … a dozen for Beckett. The Braves, like the Sox, managed one baserunner – a single by Casey Kotchman – but that was it. Jeff Francoeur went down looking on a 95-mph fastball over the outside edge for Beckett’s first whiff. Onto the third we go.
Don’t blink (7:53 p.m., MID 2, NO SCORE)
The rapid pace continues. Despite issuing a two-out walk to Jason Varitek on four pitches, Jurrjens needed just 12 more pitches for three more outs. That’s 22 pitches through two innings for the Braves starter.
Beckett needs only 11 pitches (7:47 p.m., END 1, NO SCORE)
Matching Jurrjens virtually pitch for pitch, Josh Beckett retired the Braves in order – on 11 pitches. In 10 innings against the Braves this season, Beckett now has allowed just five hits and no walks.
91 degrees, 10 pitches (7:41 p.m., MID 1, NO SCORE)
We’re underway here at Turner Field, where the top of the first was quick. In 91-degree heat at first pitch, Braves right-hander Jair Jurrjens retired the Red Sox in order on 10 pitches, sandwiching two groundouts (Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis) around a strikeout (J.D. Drew). Josh Beckett now goes to the mound having shut out the Braves at Fenway Park last weekend.