Jonny Gomes hit a three-run homer in the first inning to stake the Sox to
a 4-0 lead on Saturday in Los Angeles (Mark J. Terrill/AP photo)
It’s been clear in the first two games of the Red Sox-Dodgers series that when two stacked teams such as these tangle, neither one actually wins — one side simply outlasts the other.
In Friday’s narrow, 2-0 loss in the opener, the Sox ended up with the defeat despite starter John Lackey only giving out three hits while striking out six.
On Saturday, the Sox fended off several threats from the hosts but still eked out a 4-2 win over L.A. to take Round Two.
Much like Lackey in Game One, starter Jon Lester was in Vintage Mode throughout the game, limiting the L.A. offence to just three hits and one run over seven-plus innings of work while striking out six and walking four to move to 12-7 and a 3.97 ERA. Koji Uehara came on in with two out in the bottom of the eighth and stayed on to close out the game in the ninth for his first four-out save of the season and his 13th overall since being named the official stopper for the Sox.
For the Dodgers, Hyun-Jin Ryu really only had one bad inning right off the bat but still took the loss to fall to 12-5 with a 3.08 ERA. Ryu gave up all four runs in the first en route to pitching five innings while striking out seven and allowing no walks and only five hits.
The Sox did all of their damage in the first inning on a Mike Napoli single and a homer by Jonny Gomes, then spent the rest of the night playing defence against a scorching-hot squad at Chavez Ravine that has won 29 of 35 game since the All-Star Break.
Former Red Sox Adrian Gonzalez — who was traded to L.A. along with Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto last fall for prospects and temporary fill-in first baseman James Loney — got one on his old team in the eighth, ripping a big double deep to center to drive in two runs and bring the Dodgers within two, but it was the only extra-base hit that Los Angeles would be able to muster against the Sox all day.
Here are the four at-bats that changed the game:
1) Gomes Gets Gone: With one out in the first and two men on for the Sox and Napoli at the plate, Gomes stepped out of the on-deck circle to quickly confer with Napoli. Whether Jonny was providing sage advice or simply news about the team’s clubbing agenda later that night isn’t clear, but Napoli went back to the plate and promptly singled to center to score Pedroia. Gomes then stepped to the dish and ripped the first pitch he saw from Ryu into the centerfield stands for a 4-0 Boston lead.
2) Another Juan Bites The Dust: After Lester gave up a single to Andre Ethierto put two men on with only one out in the bottom of the seventh, the Red Sox lefty gets Juan Uribe to line out to shortstop Stephen Drew, who then beats former Sox prospect Hanley Ramirez back to the bag at second for the unassisted double play to end the inning.
3) Gonzo Gets His: In the bottom of the eighth the Dodgers were at it again but this time pushed two runs across when former Sox first basemanGonzalez doubled deep to center off reliever Craig Breslow to cash in Crawford and Yasiel Puig and cut the Red Sox advantage to 4-2.
4) Four At the Door: After walking the next batter, Ramirez, to put the potential tying run aboard with two out, John Farrell brings in Uehara to strike out A.J. Ellis on five pitches to end the threat. Uehara retired all three men he faced in the ninth to slam the door and secure the win for the Sox, who improve to 76-55 on the season. High fives all around.
In Tampa, the Rays managed to hold off the Yankees by a score of 4-2 as well to move to 74-53 and remain virtually tied atop the American League East Division standings with Boston.
Tomorrow the Red Sox will aim to bounce out of L.A. on a high note in the rubber game of the weekend set. Jake Peavy (1-1, 4.18 ERA)will take the ball for Boston in his fifth start since being traded from the White Sox in the Jose Iglesias swap and will face Chris Capuano (4-6, 4.70 ERA) with first pitch slated for 8:05 p.m. EST.