Commentary

John Lackey gets sloppy in Fenway slop

Updated: June 23, 2011, 10:23 AM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- It was a dismal day for the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday at Fenway Park.

Boston's rubber game against the San Diego Padres included four rain delays, totaling 2 hours, 24 minutes, and when it was finally called in the eighth inning, the visitors had a 5-1 victory in a rain-shortened game.

The original start time of 1:35 p.m. ET was pushed back to 2:10 due to inclement weather. There was a second rain delay, lasting 38 minutes, with one out in the top of the third inning. There was another 31-minute delay after the top of the fifth before the game was called prior to the start of the home half of the eighth.

[+] EnlargeOrtiz
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesDavid Ortiz tries to stay dry before one of his at-bats.

"It got sloppy," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "It never really rained real hard. It looked kind of thick and the field got sloppy, so they stopped it, started it and stopped it. I don't know what else they can do. They kept trying to put that Turface [quick dry] on there, but finally it got to a point where it was getting out of control."

After winning his previous three starts, Red Sox pitcher John Lackey suffered his shortest outing of the season, working 3 1/3 innings and allowing five runs on four hits with four walks and four strikeouts. He also hit two batters, threw a wild pitch and surrendered a leadoff home run to the Padres' Will Venable. Lackey's worst outing of the season came April 2 when he allowed nine runs on 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings against the Texas Rangers.

The wheels fell off for Lackey in the fourth, when the Padres scored four times, including runs on a bases-loaded walk, hit by pitch and wild pitch.

"He went back out after the [first] rain delay, and it just looked like he lost his feel," Francona said. "I don't think the conditions were very good for either pitcher, but he lost his command and it cost us some runs."

The veteran right-hander fell to 5-6 this season and his ERA ballooned to 7.36. That's the highest ERA by any starter this season with a minimum of 10 starts.

"They weren't great," Lackey said of the conditions. "I don't think I've ever hit anybody with the bases loaded."

The conditions were horrendous.

"It was bad," Red Sox DH David Ortiz said. "There was a lot of water on the field. I'm not out there fielding, but walking to the on-deck circle, it felt like I was swimming."

Although the Red Sox failed to come up with timely hits for the second straight game, their Nos. 2, 3 and 4 hitters continued to sizzle. Nine of Boston's 10 hits came from those spots in the order.

Dustin Pedroia went 2-for-3 and has hit safely in each of his past eight games. During the steak, he's hitting .414 with five RBIs. He was sporting a large ice pack on his bruised right knee after the game.

Boston's No. 3 hitter, Adrian Gonzalez, went 4-for-4 and drove in his team's lone run. It was his league-leading 14th game with at least three hits. He has registered three four-hit games, and is hitting .359 with 69 RBIs and 15 home runs. Gonzalez is 10-for-19 with seven RBIs in the past four games.

He's also leading the majors with 34 multihit games.

"He's a monster, man," Ortiz said. "He's something special, very special. This is a one-of-a-kind kind of guy. He makes it look so easy. He has such a great swing, and his approach is unbelievable. He's a smart hitter and knows when to hit the ball, not like me who just hits rockets at people."

Kevin Youkilis, the cleanup hitter, is also on a tear.

He went 2-for-4 and has hit safely in 11 of his past 13 games with a .372 average and 17 RBIs in this stretch.

"You want to win every series, but we're playing great baseball," Youkilis said of the loss. "We can't be too upset, and guys in here turn the page real quick."

Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek had the only other hit for Boston. After the loss, the captain talked about the difficult day for Lackey.

"I thought he threw the ball well, minus one pitch he made to Venable," Varitek said. "It definitely was wet, and it was obvious that [he lost] some feel."

Speaking of losing feel, the flu bug continues to wreak havoc within the Red Sox clubhouse, and Francona was forced to make a last-minute lineup change, replacing an ill Marco Scutaro with rookie infielder Drew Sutton at shortstop. Sutton went 0-for-2 with a strikeout and made his second fielding error of the season.

Sutton said he was told seven minutes before first pitch that he was starting.

"That's not easy. It's like going into it blind on a pitcher," Sutton said. "When you know you're playing, you've got some time to look at a pitcher and see what he does. It's tough to do, but that's the role, and that's kind of what you've got to do."

After the game, Francona said Scutaro was feeling a little better.

The Red Sox will have a day off Thursday before continuing their interleague schedule through Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Houston.

"[I'm] not a big interleague fan," Youkilis said.

Joe McDonald covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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