Closing Time: Jon Lester, Jonny Gomes lead Red Sox past Dodgers
|08.24.13 at 7:22 pm ET|
What a difference a day can make.
Less than 24 hours after getting shut down and shut out by Ricky Nolasco and the Dodgers, the Red Sox came out of the gates swinging against left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, Los Angeles’ 26-year-old Korean who has stymied opposing teams for much of the season.
That was not the case Saturday, however, as the Red Sox walked away with a 4-2 win at Dodger Stadium behind the strength of a four-run first inning and another strong game from their own left-handed starter, Jon Lester.
All four of those first-inning runs came before Ryu, who lasted only five inning, recorded a second out. The key rally started with Shane Victorino getting hit by a pitch, followed by Dustin Pedroia eking out an infield single to second baseman Mark Ellis. Mike Napoli drove Victorino in with a line-drive single to center — thus ending the Dodgers’ streak of 26 2/3 scoreless innings — before Jonny Gomes came through with the big blow, a three-run home run to left-center.
Ryu settled down from there on out, allowing only two more hits in his final 4 2/3 innings, but the damage was done — and against a southpaw no less.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– For his second start in a row, Jon Lester was dominant. He lasted 7 1/3 innings and yielded only one run on three hits while striking out six. The Dodgers went down quietly in most innings, forcing Lester to reach the 20-pitch mark only once, and although they worked four walks — the last of which came around to score — Lester got the big outs when he needed to. Carl Crawford worked that last walk before Junichi Tazawa came on in relief of Lester.
The Dodgers didn’t collect their first hit until the fourth, and even then it proved to be harmless. After allowing a Mark Ellis single to center to lead off the inning, Lester bounced back to get former Sox Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez looking, dancing around the outside edge of the strike zone in both cases. Gonzalez watched a 94 mph fastball, while Ramirez let a 79 mph curveball go by. Lester walked A.J. Ellis — no relation to Mark — to put two on with two out, but Andre Ethier flew out to Victorino, who was fighting the sun, to end the threat.
The outing was the latest indication that Lester has found his way after a mediocre first half. In seven games since the All-Star break — during which Lester got a season-high nine days of rest — he has posted a 2.31 ERA and 1.16 WHIP while striking out 38 and walking 12 in 46 2/3 innings innings.
Until Craig Breslow allowed Lester’s last baserunner, Crawford, to score, Lester had tallied 16 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings dating back to the end of his outing against the Blue Jays Aug. 14.
– The Red Sox turned three double plays, two of which featured sensational rookie Yasiel Puig getting doubled off of first.
After Puig worked a full-count walk to lead off the first, Gonzalez lined out to Napoli, who quickly stepped on first to barely beat Puig back to the bag. Then with Puig on again, this time after a single in the sixth, Victorino caught Mark Ellis’ soft line drive and tossed to first to easily retire the Cuban outfielder, who was passed second base by the time Victorino made the catch.
The final one helped Lester escape a one-out, two-on jam in the seventh. Juan Uribe lined to Drew, who doubled Ramirez off second.
– Gomes, who finished the day 1-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base, hit his fifth long ball in 25 games since the All-Star break. He also has a .500 slugging percentage and 18 RBIs in that time, while managing to walk 16 times compared to 18 strikeouts.
– Napoli, in his first start in more than a week due partly to his plantar fasciitis and partly to David Ortiz getting time at first base in interleague play, went 3-for-4 with a pair of line drives. He entered the day hitting just .146 and a .293 OBP and .250 slugging mark this month.
– Koji Uehara got perhaps the game’s biggest out, striking out A.J. Ellis with runners on first and second and two outs in the eighth.
– Xander Bogaerts notched his first major league hit, rifling a ninth-inning single into right field.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
– A few of the relievers didn’t offer much relief. Once Lester exited after 7 1/3, Tazawa only recorded one out while allowing Puig another single. Breslow allowed Gonzalez a two-run double before walking Ramirez and giving way to Uehara.
Although he owns a 2.61 ERA and 1.14 WHIP on the season, Tazawa was been particularly hittable his last six games, which include two blown saves. He has a 5.40 ERA and 1.60 WHIP in five innings in that span.
– The West Coast has not been kind to Will Middlebrooks, who has cooled off after a scorching start to his month. Middlebrooks, 0-for-4 with three strikeouts Saturday, is 3-for-15 with a game to go on this six-game road trip. Three of those games have been 0-fers.
– Jacoby Ellsbury has not done much the last two days to impress one of his potential offseason suitors. He has gone 0-for-9 with two strikeouts. Ellsbury also suffered a mental miscue when he walked off first base after hitting into a force out at second, thinking there were three outs when there were only two.
– David Ross, not particularly known for his offense, has lived up to that billing in his first two games since coming off the DL. He followed up his 1-for-4 effort against the Giants on Tuesday by going 0-for-3 with a strikeout.
– The Dodgers bullpen, which features no fewer than five relievers who have served as closers at some point in their careers, limited the Red Sox to no runs and two hits in four innings after Ryu departed.
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