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Closing Time: John Lackey again dominates as Red Sox stifle Padres

07.02.13 at 10:00 pm ET
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Maybe the Red Sox still have an ace after all. Much attention has been given to the absence of Clay Buchholz, but John Lackey made his case once again Tuesday night that he’s prepared to offer the Sox a reliable, top-of-the-rotation presence.

The tall righty was absolutely dominant, going eight innings, allowing just one run on six hits while walking one and striking out six. The contest marked the sixth time that Lackey has worked eight or more innings with the Sox, and the first since June 17, 2011. In his last two starts, he has punched out 18 and walked just one batter in 15 innings.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Red Sox keep finding ways to win. This time it was Brandon Snyder‘s turn. After a lengthy at-bat in the bottom of the fourth, Snyder broke a scoreless tie by clearing the bases with a three-run double off the Wall in left-center, giving the Sox a 3-0 lead that was never in danger given Lackey’s dominance.

Snyder made his second start in a Red Sox jersey since Will Middlebrooks‘ demotion and Stephen Drew‘s hamstring injury on Saturday. The contest marked the second straight in which Snyder delivered the pivotal offense in a victory. (On Sunday, his two-run double gave the Sox an early lead and his bases-empty single in the ninth inning of that contest put the Sox in position to mount walkoff rally.)

“It’s been amazing. It’s just a blessing,” Snyder, who signed with the Red Sox at the end of March after being granted his release from the Rangers at the end of spring training, said. “Obviously, leaving spring training not knowing where I was going to be, ending up with the Red Sox, such a great organization, going to Pawtucket, having such great guys like Gary DiSarcina, it’s just an awesome feeling to have that kind of sense of trust in me to come up and fill in. And it’s some big shoes to fill up here. These guys are playing really good. Just trying to do the little things to kind of help out.”

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

— Lackey was dominant for the whole night, with the only Padres run coming on a solo home run. The outing lowered his ERA to 2.81, which puts him in the top 10 for ERA in the American League.

Tuesday was Lackey’s fourth quality start in a row. He’s worked at least seven innings in each of those outings, his longest such streak as a member of the Red Sox. Over that period he has struck out 25 batters while walking just three and producing a 2.17 ERA. He has looked as overpowering as he did during his Angels peak, a fact underscored by Padres manager Bud Black, who was Lackey’s pitching coach with the Angels from 2002-06.

“That’s as good as I’ve seen John throw in a number of years,” said Black. “Velocity really up the first 50, 60 pitches. When John is hitting 94, 95, 96, he’s feeling good. The velocity was there. Good, hard slider early in the game as well, and as the game progressed, he started mixing in a few slower breaking balls. Tough on the righthanded hitter tonight. Tough on the lefty, cutting the ball in on them. He had a good breaking ball the last few innings. Stuff-wise, the ball was really coming out of his hand well.”

Koji Uehara was dominant in closing out Lackey’s win, working a perfect ninth with two strikeouts. He needed just 13 pitches (10 strikes).

David Ortiz hit his 500th career double in the first inning. He becomes the 20th member of the 500-double, 400-home run club.

Jacoby Ellsbury stole his major league-leading 33rd base of the season. He is an impressive 33-for-36 (.916) in stolen bases.

— Snyder delivered another clutch hit on Tuesday, as he launched a ball off the Green Monster on the eighth pitch of his at-bat that plated three Red Sox runs. He is hitting .338 off left-handed pitchers in his big league career, offering the Sox some of the right-handed thump they’ve been seeking. In his two starts this season for the Red Sox he has two doubles and five RBIs.

Jonny Gomes continues to produce in limited action. He ripped two more balls off the Green Monster on Tuesday night and now has a .347 (16-for-46) batting average in his last 13 games.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

— Ortiz ripped a double down the right field line in the first (his 500th), but a quick relay from the Padres gunned down Dustin Pedroia at the plate to end the inning. That’s the third time a Red Sox player has been thrown out at home plate since Saturday and the 16th time this season (the most in the American League).

— A solo shot off the bat of Jesus Guzman in the top of the seventh put the Padres on the board and ended the Sox’ bid for a shutout. But Lackey quickly responded, retiring the next three batters and ending the inning.

Mike Napoli went 0-for-3 with two more strikeouts. He did work a walk. His current streak of 21 straight games without a homer is the second longest of his career. In his last 20 games, he’s hitting .211/.321/.225.

Read More: brandon snyder, David Ortiz, john lackey, Koji Uehara
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