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Closing Time: Poor baserunning, Hiroki Kuroda do in Red Sox in loss to Yankees

07.20.13 at 7:38 pm ET
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What was turning into a pretty good pitchers duel turned sour for the Red Sox in a hurry.

After going toe-to-toe with Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda for the first six innings, John Lackey teamed with reliever Matt Thornton to allow New York a three-run seventh inning. The end result would be a 5-2 loss for the Sox, snapping their five-game home  winning streak.

Lackey turned in yet another solid outing, although he did succumb to 10 hits over 6 1/3 innings. The righty struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter, having only given one run (coming on a Brett Gardner line-drive RBI single just out of the reach of second baseman Dustin Pedroia in the fifth) prior to the three-run seventh.

“John pitched a very strong six plus innings for us,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “That seventh inning things started to back up a little bit on him and I totally understand in these kind of conditions. I felt like where we were in that part of the order to go to a left-hander was the call, but John [Lackey] was very strong. He didn’t issue a walk to contribute to their base hits. They went early in the count on him because he does throw so many strikes. They strung some hits together but he stayed away from the big inning until they built that three run lead in the seventh.”

The Red Sox had difficulty figuring out Kuroda, not scoring until they put up two runs in the seventh on a Jonny Gomes’ sacrifice fly and run-producing wild pitch. The Yankees righty — whom the Red Sox have had interest in signing the past two offseasons — allowed two runs on five hits over seven innings.

Farrell commented on Kuroda’s outing following the game.

“He threw a lot of strikes. He’s got such late action on his cutter and his split. Good location on his fastball.” Farrell added, “What was most impressive, even in the 6th and 7th innings in these conditions, to reach back and touch 95, 96 in the meat of our order when he needed to he was able to get it. He’s a very good pitcher, and he pitched a very good game against us tonight.”

Here’s what went wrong and right for the Red Sox:

WHAT WENT WRONG

– The Red Sox squandered a potential rally in the eighth inning when Daniel Nava was gunned down trying to tag-up from first base on a foul pop off the bat of Pedroia. Yankees catcher Chris Stewart had ranged back behind the plate, reached into the stands and grabbed the pop-up. But the backstop was able to pounce out of the stands and fire a strike to second baseman Robinson Cano in time to nail Nava for the inning-ending double play. Making matters worse was that David Ortiz resided on-deck, representing the potential game-tying run.

– The Red Sox continue to be aggressive on the base paths, and it proved costly Saturday afternoon. A David Ortiz single in the first inning was wasted when Daniel Nava was thrown out at the plate by left fielder Vernon Wells. Four innings later, with runners on second and third, a Kuroda wild pitch skipped by catcher Chris Stewart and Mike Carp broke for home. Stewart quickly recovered and threw a strike, nailing Carp at the plate. Farrell encouraged the aggressive base running, but also acknowledged the problem.

“In the first inning we were looking to put pressure on the defense. [Vernon] Wells comes up and makes a quality throw to home plate where Nava gets gunned down.” Farrell went on to add, “In the eighth inning, that was over-aggressiveness on his [Nava] part. He sees Stewart go into the stands and makes the catch, regroups quickly obviously and makes a strong throw to 2nd base. But one down with David [Ortiz] on deck, again over- aggressiveness on his part.”

– The mighty Red Sox offense was struggled to solve Kuroda early on. The Sox lead the Major League in six offensive categories but only scored two runs on the evening, both coming in the bottom of the seventh.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

– Lackey has now gone at least six innings in seven straight starts for the Sox. Over that span he is 4-2 with 48 strike outs and just eight walks.

– Ortiz continued to swing a hot bat, adding two hits and a run scored. Over his past 11 games, Ortiz is hitting .371 with two home runs and 4 RBI.

Drake Britton was able to make his major-league debut, pitching one clean inning. He’s now the sixth Red Sox pitcher to make his MLB debut this season.

“He did a very good job.” Farrell said of Britton. “That wasn’t the ideal situation to make your debut in, but in that left-handed spot he threw strikes, he’s got a quick arm, I thought he kept his emotion in that first setting, first experience well under control.”

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