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Closing Time: More late-innings magic as Red Sox beat Orioles

08.28.13 at 10:13 pm ET
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The Red Sox continued to show an uncanny ability to spit in the face of late-inning deficits, as Mike Carp‘s RBI single in the bottom of the eighth — on a 97 mph fastball on the fists that he fought off to dump just over the glove of diving third baseman Manny Machado — completed a comeback from a late 3-1 deficit and gave the Red Sox a 4-3 victory. The win kept the Sox 2 1/2 games in front of the Rays, who beat the Angels.

The Sox now have 30 come-from-behind victories this year, including 10 when trailing after six innings. Such was the case on Wednesday, when the team trailed, 3-1, after six innings, but plated a pair of runs with two outs in the seventh and then pushed ahead the game-winning run on Carp’s single in the eighth.

After struggling through a stretch of August, the Sox have now once again regained their footing, winning four straight, and improving to 6-3 in their last nine. The win guaranteed the Sox their third straight series victory.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

John Lackey delivered yet another strong performance and indeed yet another quality start (his 17th of the year), firing 7 1/3 innings of three-run ball in which he gave up a pair of solo homers (to Manny Machado and Chris Davis) but otherwise avoided harm and mowed efficiently through the Orioles offense while punching out four and walking just one. However, he received a no-decision due to his continued lack of run support. Indeed, Lackey has yet to claim a win in a game this year in which he’s permitted more than two runs. He has been a textbook case study in the meaninglessness of pitcher wins and losses, given that he has been the Sox’ most valuable starter in terms of shutting down opposing lineups (3.19 ERA) and consistently logging innings (he’s averaging just over 6 1/3 innings per start), yet he still owns just an 8-11 record.

Dustin Pedroia extended his hitting streak to nine games by finding a hole on the left side of the infield to drive in a pair of runs, knotting the game at 3-3 in the seventh inning. He went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks, and in his streak, he’s hitting .429 (15-for-35) with a .462 OBP (18 for 39) and .657 OBP (23-for-35).

Shane Victorino continued to put together impressive at-bats while batting right-handed against right-handed pitching. He had an RBI single against Orioles starter Bud Norris and, perhaps even more impressively, lined out against sidearming right-hander Darren O’Day. Both Victorino and manager John Farrell have said that the team has no plans to convert Victorino to a full-time right-handed hitter, but his results this year against righties continue to exceed

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

Jacoby Ellsbury stayed in the game after slamming a foul ball off his foot to play a key role in a game-tying rally in the bottom of the seventh with an infield single, steal (his second of the game and 49th of the year) and scoring from second on Pedroia’s single, but he left the game after that half-inning.

David Ortiz, who left a game last Wednesday in San Francisco due to back tightness, went 0-for-4. He’s now 0-for-18 with one walk (an intentional one) and a sac fly in 20 plate appearances since the start of last week’s West Coast trip.

Mike Napoli, who was 6-for-13 with a double and two homers in three games entering Wednesday, could not build upon those promising performances. He went 0-for-4 and struck out thrice, elevating his strikeout total for the year to 165 (closing rapidly on the team record of 177 set by Mark Bellhorn in 2004) and his number of multi-strikeout games to 51.

– In his first career start at Fenway Park, Xander Bogaerts had an inauspicious performance, going 0-for-3 and seeing just four pitches. However, on one of the outs, he was robbed of a hit by a shoestring catch in center by Adam Jones. Still, whereas a willingness to work counts and remain patient proved a hallmark of Bogaerts’ plate appearances in the minors this year, he’s now seen two or fewer pitches in five of his 12 big league plate appearances and three or fewer in 7 of 12 trips to the dish thus far.

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