PAPELBON HITS MILESTONE, SOX WIN (9:55, END 9, 4-0 SOX)
Ramon Ramirez couldn’t close it out in the ninth, allowing a single and a walk with two outs. Francona summoned Jonathan Papelbon. Papelbon retired Matt Wieters when Bay made a diving catch in shallow left, giving Pap 132 saves in his career, tying him with Bob Stanley for the Red Sox record.
The Sox moved to 11-3 in their last 14 road games while J.D. Drew hit a two-run homer and flirted with the cycle and Jon Lester further removed himself from his slow start and further validated his spot as one of the league’s best lefthanders with seven shutout innings.
SOX STARTERS ON A ROLL (9:38, TOP 9, 4-0 SOX)
As this one winds down, consider this: Over the past four games, Red Sox starters have combined for a 0.69 ERA and a 17-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Also, forget Peter Angelos. Jon Lester owns the Orioles. He’s going to be 8-0 in 10 career starts with a 2.18 ERA and a 46-21 K/BB ratio in 62 innings. This season, Lester has allowed zero runs in two of his 16 starts — both against Baltimore. In 14 innings against the O’s, Lester has allowed no runs on nine hits and two walks to go with 17 strikeouts.
DELCARMEN ENTERS (9:24, MID 8, 4-0 SOX)
Lester leaves with another great line: seven innings, no runs, five hits (all singles), eight strikeouts, and likely a win.
AH, NO (9:22, MID 8, 4-0 SOX)
Drew came up with a man on second, but Bass got Drew to bounce to second. His hopes for the cycle are dim — the Sox will have to bat around in the ninth for him to have another chance at hitting a double.
LESTER THROUGH SEVEN (9:14, END 7, 4-0 SOX)
The Orioles hit three more balls hard — a lined single to center by Reimold, a liner to Ellsbury from Wigginton, and a laser by Mora that Drew caught while sprinting toward the wall. Wieters ended the inning with a chopper to Green, who showed that bazooka attached to his right shoulder. Hideki Okajima was warming, so that could be it for Lester.
TIME TO STRETCH (9:08, MID 7, 4-0 SOX)
They’re playing “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” at Camden Yards. The Sox went in order, and Drew is due up fourth in the eighth, needing a double for the cycle. Lester remains on the mound. He’s thrown 99 pitches.
UGLY SWINGS AND STRIKEOUTS (9:02, END 6, 4-0 SOX)
Lester struck out Jones swinging at a cutter that darted away and into the dirt. Markakis grounded to second. Huff hit the hardest ball Lester has yielded all night, a long fly ball the other way. Bay backpedaled to the warning track and made the catch.
ALL FOR NAUGHT (8:54, MID 6, 4-0 SOX)
The Sox stranded Drew and Pedroia when Youkilis grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, set up by some nice footwork by Andino as he fielded the sharp grounder to his right. Youkilis exploded at the call, and Tim Bogar saved him from getting thrown out. Francona came out to chat with first base umpire Tony Randazzo, too. No fireworks.
CYCLE FOR DREW? (8:52, TOP 6, 4-0 SOX)
Drew got the hard parts out of the way early with a triple and a homer in his first three at-bats. In his fourth, he rolled a single through the right side off of new pitcher Brian Bass. With at least one and maybe two at-bats left, Drew needs only a double.
Pedroia followed him with walk. He and Drew, having swapped spots, have gotten on base 6 of 8 times. Men on first and second, one out for Youkilis.
LESTER COMES UP BIG (8:48, END 5, 4-0 SOX)
In his first at-bat with a man in scoring position, Lester squashed the O’s rally. He went ball-strike-strike-ball to Roberts, who looked at all four pitches. On 2-2, Lester threw a biting slider that started off the plate and hooked over the outside corner, a pitch Roberts could only watch for strike three. Lester struck out the side that inning, giving him seven Ks for the night.
O’S GET SOMETHING GOING (8:43, END 5, 4-0 SOX)
The Orioles have a mini two-out rally going thanks to a bit of luck. Wieters reached on an infield single, and Andino blooped one into shallow left, just over Green’s head. Lester had struck out Wigginton and Mora to bring his total to six. Roberts is hitting.
LESTER DOMINANT (8:24, END 4, 4-0 SOX)
Lester’s strikeout total this game isn’t as high as some others this year, but he’s dominating the Orioles about as much as a pitcher can dominate a team. He struck out Aubrey Huff swinging at a slider that landed in the middle of the righthanded batter’s box. Markakis added the second hit of the night, a 14-hopper up the middle that Green narrowly missed on a slide. The O’s just have no chance right now.
JONES ROBS YOUKILIS (8:14, MID 4, 4-0 SOX)
Was that the catch of the year? Youkilis, with two outs, had seemingly added to the Sox’ lead with a homer to dead center. But Jones drifted back, leaped, stuck his glove far above and over the wall, and brought the ball back to save a home run. Of course, Jones is leading off.
SOX BREAK THROUGH (8:11, TOP 4, 4-0 SOX)
Berken hit Ellsbury with a pitch, and then Ellsbury stole off Wieters, the super-prospect catcher. His release is a little slow, and Ellsbury took advantage with an easy swipe. Varitek bounced a single through the box, and Ellsbury zipped home. Green popped up a sac bunt, but Drew delivered the big blow — he launched a 382-foot bomb over the right-centerfield fence, a two-run blast and his 10th homer this year.
QUICK WORK (8:03, END 3, 1-0 SOX)
If this was a football game, the Red Sox would be dominating time of possession. But it’s a baseball game, and they’re only up a run. Lester was great again in the third, striking out Matt Wieters looking at a breaking ball, getting a grounder from Robert Andino, and then a fly ball to left from Roberts.
BALK THIS WAY (7:56, MID 3, 1-0 SOX)
The Red Sox frittered away another scoring chance after getting the leadoff batter on for the third straight inning. Pedroia walked, stole second, and made it to third on a Berken balk. On Friday, Pedroia caused two balks while on the bases. Both Kevin Youkilis and Jason Bay struck out swinging, and Ortiz walked. The inning fell to Kotsay, and he grounded weakly to second base. Berken is walking on thin ice, but he’s surviving.
LESTER STILL STRONG (7:44, END 2, 1-0 SOX)
Lester gave up his first hit, a two-out single up the middle by Wigginton. Otherwise, he’s in top form. He struck out Nolan Reimold on a vicious breaking ball and got Melvin Mora to ground to third.
THREAT FIZZLES (7:38, MID 2, 1-0 SOX)
Given how each inning began, the Sox really ought to have more than a one-run lead. Ellsbury ripped one to first, where Ty Wigginton made the stab and got an out at second while Ortiz scooted to third. Jason Varitek had a big oppportunity with men on first and third and one out, but Berken struck him out swinging. Berken hit Green with a pitch, and Drew flied to center.
To lead off the bottom half, Lester induced an Aubrey Huff fly to right.
LOWRIE ON THE FARM (7:29, TOP 2, 1-0 SOX)
Jed Lowrie, who is suffering fatigue in his right quad as a result of being hit with a pitch in the back of the knee last week, is not in tonight’s lineup in Pawtucket. Catcher Mark Wagner, however, is making his Triple A debut behind the plate.
Mark Kotsay singled to left, giving the Sox runners on first and second for Jacoby Ellsbury with no outs.
FAST ONE FOR LESTER (7:26, END 1, 1-0 SOX)
Lester started strong, with good life on his pitches. Roberts popped to second. Adam Jones grounded into the hole at short, which was fun because it gave us a chance to see Nick Green and his 45-caliber arm make that long throw. Nick Markakis, who used Alan Jackson for his walkup music, struck out when Lester blew an outside fastball past him. Nice, interesting matchup of young lefties who could be battling for a long time in the AL East. So far, Markakis is 6 for 26 against Lester with four doubles and seven strikeouts.
And David Ortiz led off with a broken-bat single into the rightfield corner.
DOUBLE BAY (7:19, MID 1, 1-0 SOX)
Youkilis grounded into a fielder’s choice, and Jason Bay followed with a 5-4-3 double play. Berken settled down after a shaky start. Brian Roberts, one of the most underrated players in the league, is ready to lead off against Jon Lester.
TITO IS A GENIUS! (7:12, TOP 1, 1-0 SOX)
J.D. Drew and Dustin Pedroia flip-flopped in the 1-2 spots tonight, and after a handful of Jason Berken pitches, it couldn’t have worked out better. Drew slammed the second pitch he saw off the base of the left-centerfield wall for a triple, and Pedroia followed by ripping a single into center field. Youkilis is batting now.