Sure, Eric Patterson was playing second base and Kevin Cash was behind the plate. And sure, things might stay that way for some time. But for now, it’s all working.
Oh, and in case you haven’t noticed…Jon Lester is a really good pitcher. With 7 innings of 1-run ball, he lowered his ERA to 2.76 while allowing 5 hits and a walk. He struck out 7.
As their lefty ace was twirling another gem the Sox hitters were hitting, staking Lester to an early lead. He pitched his way out of a first-inning jam, aided by some fabulous glove work at first base. Then the lineup took over. Marco Scutaro led off the frame with a single, but was cut down at second by an Eric Patterson fielder’s choice. David Ortiz walked, and Kevin Youkilis, J.D. Drew, and Daniel Nava smacked a trio of doubles for a 4-0 advantage.
The game stayed that way into the fifth, when Lester finally gave up his lone run. Matt Wieters doubled, and Cesar Izturis and Corey Patterson each singled to trim Boston’s lead to 4-1.
In the bottom of the inning, Boston struck again. This time it was a single by Ortiz that foiled the shift, and towering 2-run blast by Youkilis that cleared the Green Monster. The blast chased starter Jeremy Guthrie from the game, closing his line at 4 innings, 6 runs on 9 hits and 3 walks, and 1 K. Mark Hendrickson closed out the frame and combined with Matt Albers to throw 2.2 scoreless innings.
Ramon Ramirez took over for Lester, pitching around a hit in the eighth.
In the bottom of the eighth, Daniel Nava reached on a nubber back to the pitcher, advancing to second when reliever Frank Mata mishandled the throw. Francona plugged in recent call-up Niuman Romero as a pinch-runner. As it turned out, Rich Gedman himself could have scored on Mike Cameron’s subsequent double.
Cameron came around to score when Eric Patterson beat out an infield single then took second on a Ty Wigginton error. Papi doubled to the wall in left, plating Patterson for a 9-1 lead.
Baltimore’s final runs came in the ninth off of another call-up, reliever Robert Manuel. The 26 year old righty walked Matt Wieters and gave up a 2-run homer to Jake Fox to set the 9-3 final.
Both New York and Tampa won as well; despite the win, Boston failed to gain ground. But the Sox have a chance to sweep when John Lackey takes on Brian Matusz in Sunday’s series finale.