Four Real? Red Sox vs White Sox 9-1-13

Felix Doubront was far from steady in his outing against Chicago, but
Boston had his back, posting a 7-6 win over the White Sox
to sweep the series Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park.

Jan-Christian Sorensen Contributing Writer

The Red Sox entered Sunday’s series finale against the White Sox looking to not only earn the sweep but make a little history in the process.

Boston was successful on one of those counts, posting a 7-6 win to sweep the Windy City visitors, but failed to hold their opponents to three runs or less for a 12th straight game, which would have matched a team record set in 1915 and bettered a mark set by the 1988 Red Sox, a squad that also went 11 straight while holding opposing teams to less than three runs.

While Saturday’s 7-2 victory over Chicago secured Boston’s 28th series win in 2013 — the most of any team in the majors to date — it was Sunday’s win that marked the first sweep of a series for the Red Sox since they took three straight from the Mariners in Seattle July 30 to Aug.1.

Despite Chicago holing up in the basement of the American League Central Division for most of the year, the sweep was not a foregone conclusion — the White Sox came into the weekend having won 10 of their last 12 games.

In keeping with the Labor Day theme, hitters on both sides made the pitchers work throughout the game: White Sox starter Andre Rienzo was taxed to the tune of 59 pitches — 31 of them out of the strike zone — after the second inning, when Boston sent nine men to the plate. Boston starter Felix Doubront, meanwhile, had his own control problems and was knocked out of the game in the fourth after giving up four runs on a walk and five hits as Chicago batted around.

Rienzo took the loss, going only three innings and allowing five runs on five hits while walking four before giving way to Charlie Leesman, who came on to work the next 4.1 innings of relief, giving up another two runs on three hits and also walking four.

Doubront, who entered the game with a 3.23 ERA as a starter at Fenway Park this season, only lasted 3.2 innings, giving up four runs on seven hits and striking out four, while the relief-corps complement of Brandon Workman, Franklin Morales, Junichi Tazawa and Craig Breslow combined to throw four innings, allowing two runs on four hits while striking out three. Workman earned the win to move to 4-2 on the year.

Koji Uehara came on in the ninth and held down the fort in his usual fine style, retiring the side on 15 pitches to earn his 16th save of the season. He's worked 24 consecutive innings over his past 21 outings, making him only the third Boston pitcher since Daniel Bard (25 innings, in 2011) and Jonathan Papelbon (21, in 2011) to put together such a streak.

David Ortiz accounted for three of Boston's runs while going 2 for 3 at the plate with a walk, Jacoby Ellsbury drove in another two while also walking once and Stephen Drew ripped his 11th home run of the year in the third inning. Boston won the game despite being out-hit 11-8 by the White Sox.

A spot of potentially bad news for the Red Sox came late in the game as Shane Victorino was lifted with a left hip contusion and Ellsbury was replaced in center field by call-up Quintin Berry after injuring his thumb on a swing. While Ellsbury is expected back on Monday, it's not clear when Victorino might return to the lineup.

Here are the four at-bats that changed the game:

1) Go Big And Go Home: In the second inning and after the Sox scored two runs, Rienzo served up back-to-back walks to Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia and Big Papi kept the party going by singling to right center to score another two runs and lift the Red Sox to a 4-0 lead. The two RBI were the 84th and 85th for Ortiz on the season.

2) Slip Sliding Away: With a 5-2 lead, Doubront served up a line-drive single to center to Conor Gillaspie that drove in Avisail Garcia and Dayan Viciedo to cut Chicago’s deficit to one run and leave Boston holding on to a slim, 5-4 lead.

3) Con Artist: In the fourth, Pedroia singled on a ground ball to Chicago third baseman Conor Gillaspie, who then committed a throwing error that allowed Ellsbury to score from third for a 6-4 Red Sox advantage and push Pedroia over to second.

4) You Don’t Bring Me Flowers Anymore: In the eighth, with the Sox still holding on to a two-run lead, Tyler Flowers teed off on a Craig Breslow slider and drove it over the Monster to cut Boston’s lead to 7-6. It marked Breslow’s first earned run allowed since July 21.

With the win, the Red Sox improve to 82-56 and move five-and-a-half games up in the American League East Division on the second-place Tampa Bay Rays, who fell 5-1 Sunday to cap a three-game sweep by the A's in that series. The Rays have now lost seven of their last eight.

The Red Sox will close out the nine-game home stand at Fenway with three against the AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers beginning tomorrow, as John Lackey (8-11, 3.19 ERA) takes on Doug Fister, who is 11-7 with a 3.81 ERA for the Tigers in 2013. First pitch is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. EST. 

Twitter: @jan_doh