Sox Comeback Bid Falls Short; Lose 4-3 In Philly

The Philadelphia Phillies took advantage of four solo home runs and a lack of production by the Red Sox offense as they took game on of the Philadelphia portion of a four-game home-and-home series, 4-3.  For the second night in a row, the Red Sox could do little with runners on base, and a ninth inning rally off former Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon came up just shy of a comeback.

The Red Sox took an early lead off of Phillies right-hander Kyle Kendrick in the first inning.  The red-hot Jacoby Ellsbury drove a 3-2 pitch deep to centerfield, which Ben Revere misplayed when he took an initial step in, only to backtrack too late as the ball sailed over his head.  Ellsbury easily made it to third with a lead-off triple, and came around to score on Dustin Pedroia’s sac fly.  The lead for Boston would be the only one of the night, however, as Philadelphia quickly responded.

Sox starter John Lackey wasn’t nearly as overpowering as his previous two starts (13 innings, three hits, and two unearned runs), and it was clear he wasn’t pitching with the same stuff.  After a 1-2-3 first, Ryan Howard took advantage of a second-chance opportunity with an opposite field home run leading off the second.  On the previous pitch, Howard fouled a pitch to left, which Mike Carp hesitated on before chasing it down.  What had a chance to be a quick out for Lackey instead fell to the field to keep Howard at the dish, and the rest was history.

Dustin Pedroia wasted a golden opportunity for Boston in the next inning.  After two quick outs by Kendrick, Daniel Nava walked in a six pitch at-bat, followed by Pedroia singling to center on a hit and run play, allowing Nava to advance to third.  With the Red Sox top run producer, Mike Napoli, up to bat, Pedroia took off for second and was easily gunned down by catcher Erik Kratz to take the bat out of Napoli’s hands.

Philadelphia used more long-ball power in the fourth off Lackey when Red Sox killers Domonic Brown and Kratz went back-to-back to make it a 3-1 Phillies lead. Lackey settled down for a 1-2-3 fifth, collecting two strikeouts, and Boston answered Philadelphia’s home-run challenge in the top of the sixth when Nava led off with a shot to right that hit off the foul pole.

Domonic Brown gets a high-five from Erik Kratz after Brown's HR in the 4th. Moments Later, Kratz followed suit.

Domonic Brown gets a high-five from Erik Kratz after Brown’s HR in the 4th. Moments Later, Kratz followed suit.

The Sox could have added more in the sixth after Pedroia followed Nava by reaching on an error by Ryan Howard.  Mike Napoli then walked in a seven pitch at-bat to put runners on first and second with Jarrod Saltalamacchia due up.  Salty lined out to center, and the runners didn’t advance.  Carp then took his defensive struggles from earlier and applied them to his hitting, as he grounded a rally-killing double play to Kendrick to end the potential big inning for Boston.

John Lackey got out of a jam in the sixth when he induced a double play of his own to third baseman Freddy Galvis.  Lackey had walked two in the frame and the Phillies had a runner at third with just one out when Galvis grounded out.  All things (and home runs) considered, Lackey pitched well enough to pick up a win going six and allowing the three solo home runs as Philadelphia went 0-4 with runners in scoring position off Lackey.

Andrew Miller relieved Lackey in the seventh and looked to regress a bit to his wild self.  Miller got the first batter, but then walked Kevin Frandsen and Jimmy Rollins back-to-back to put an insurance run at second base.  Miller recovered to strike out Howard before being lifted for Koji Uehara.  While Uehara did get the final out of the inning, the Phillies would get their insurance in the eighth when Domonic Brown led off with his second home run of the night to make it 4-2 Phillies.  The insurance run would prove very valuable in the end of this one.

With Jonathan Papelbon on for the ninth, trying for his second save in as many nights against his former club. Fresh from being called back up from AAA Pawtucket, Jackie Bradley Jr. pinch-hit for Uehara, but looked overmatched as he struck out on four pitches.  Stephen Drew then worked Papelbon for an eight-pitch showing, finally drawing a walk to give the Sox added life. David Ortiz pinch-hit for Jose Iglesias (1-3, double), but didn’t show the same patience Drew had, flying out to right on a 1-0 pitch.  With two down, it looked pretty much over for Boston, but Jonny Gomes (who usually struggles against righties) singled to right, and the Sox had the tying runner on base.  Jacoby Ellsbury then came up and got the better of his former teammate, doubling to left to score Drew to make it 4-3 as Daniel Nava came to bat.  Nava was unable to play hero, however, and grounded the only pitch he saw to first for Howard to make an easy play and seal the nail-biter, 4-3, for Philadelphia.

Boston and Philadelphia will finish their series Thursday night as the Phillies Jonathan Pettibone opposes Franklin Morales, who will make his first appearance of the season for the Sox after missing 52 games with back and pectoral injuries. The Red Sox managed to keep their one game lead over the Yankees with their 9-4 loss to the Mets.  Unfortunately for Boston and New York, the Orioles and Rays both won to close the gap in the AL East as all four teams are now within 3.5 games of the lead.

Inside the Game

– Erik Kratz and Domonic Brown are a combined 8-21 (.381) with six home runs against the Red Sox this season.

-Jacoby Ellsbury went 2-5, and is now 8 for his last 19 (.421) with five extra base hits.

-Both teams struggled with runners in scoring position, combining to go 1-14 (.071) with Ellsbury’s late double the only hit for either side.

-Jarrod Saltalamacchia allowed four stolen bases to the Phillies.  The Sox are 25th in the Majors at catching just 17% of would-be thieves. Salty has caught just 4 of 32 base-stealers

Jay Coorey – MLB Contributor – Title Town Sports

 

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