|Sox pitcher Jon Lester hits a sacrifice fly off Tim Lincecum in the second. (Eric Risberg/Associated Press)|
Lester throws 5-hitter but Martinez is hurt
SAN FRANCISCO — It was an afternoon of pain, as yet another Red Sox player fractured yet another bone yesterday.
But there was also the pain visited on the Giants in the form of yet another dominant outing from yet another Boston starting pitcher. This time, it was Jon Lester, performing admirably in what was supposed to be a pitching duel but wasn’t, the outcome as one-sided as it could be.
Because, while San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum lasted just three innings and 79 pitches, removed before his first turn in the batting order arrived, Lester needed no relief. He required only 103 pitches to sweep through nine innings, his five-hitter bringing a bit of good fortune and a 5-1 win on a day that had too much bad news for the Sox.
While Lester stood tall, catcher Victor Martinez fell. It wasn’t a hurt toe that left him hopping around the infield after a foul tip in the second inning, it was Martinez’s left thumb that emerged with a fracture, a word heard far too many times around the Sox clubhouse these days.
So, manager Terry Francona was asked, what is the breaking point? At some point, isn’t it all too much to get through?
“Not when Lester pitches like he does, or the way guys are pitching,’’ Francona said. “I understand. We have some really good players that are getting beat up. It doesn’t help. But it doesn’t mean you can’t win.
“I think you lose a little bit of margin for error when you have some of the big guys go down, but that still doesn’t mean you can’t win.’’
And the Sox did win, riding Lester’s strong pitching and hits from every spot in the order but pitcher and catcher. Lester’s complete game saved a bullpen that had been taxed by Clay Buchholz’s early exit on Saturday with a hyperextended knee.
“We needed that,’’ said Francona, whose team also lost second baseman Dustin Pedroia Friday night with a broken foot. “We talked before the game about being a little beat up, but when your pitching’s not, you always give yourself a chance. He threw strikes all day. He used all his pitches. I don’t think he had an inning over 17 pitches. He was efficient all day, and gave us exactly what we needed.’’
Added Lester, “It’s obviously nice to do that, but I’m just trying to go out there and execute pitches. However long that takes me, Tito makes that call. I was just happy to get a quality start. It’s obviously nice to save the bullpen a little bit.’’
Lester said the ball was coming out of his hand well, but he wasn’t entirely pleased with his location, though the Giants might not have agreed. The five hits Lester allowed were all singles, and he walked one while striking out nine.
“He did great,’’ Martinez said. “As soon as I saw him warming up in the bullpen, I knew that he was on his game. He got everything. He got his command. He was able pretty much to do anything he wanted with all of his pitches.’’
That was backed up by the offense against one of the best pitchers in the National League, following up Wednesday’s game in which the Sox battered Ubaldo Jimenez. David Ortiz took Lincecum deep, hitting a ball that splashed down in McCovey Cove with two outs in the first inning, putting the Sox on top. It was the 72d time a homer had been hit into the water at AT&T Park, the last one Sept. 29 of last season by Miguel Montero.
“I wanted to hit that water bad,’’ Ortiz said.
Boston added on in the next inning, which began with a walk to Martinez. After J.D. Drew struck out swinging, fill-in second baseman Bill Hall doubled to put men on second and third. Darnell McDonald was intentionally walked to bring up Lester. The pitcher, who saw 24 pitches in four at-bats, hit a sacrifice fly to the warning track in right that Francona thought had a chance to go out off the bat.
“It’s nice, because we got a run on the board,’’ Lester said. “But I don’t really care what I do up there.’’
He did add, “I don’t want to just go up there and stand and take three pitches. So whatever I can do. If I get a hit, great. If I don’t, no big deal, we’ll move on. As long as I pitch well, that’s all that matters.’’
The Sox scored another run in the inning on Marco Scutaro’s RBI single, then another in the third when Hall singled in Kevin Youkilis. Boston finished up its scoring with its second homer out of the third spot in the lineup, with Adrian Beltre hitting his 12th of the season after the third baseman came in as a defensive substitution in the seventh.
So they won, even as they lost another bone to another baseball. But, as was repeated over and over in the clubhouse, there might be some bad luck, but the Sox aren’t expecting themselves to fall apart.
“We’re going to fight,’’ Lester said. “We’re not going to just lay down and let everybody beat us up. Obviously we’re going to go out there and battle, and hopefully we can put some games in the win column. We’ve been able to do that. Whatever happens with Vic, or whatever happens in the future here, guys that are going to come in are going to do the same thing.’’
Added Martinez, who hopes to avoid a stint on the disabled list, “Nothing that you can do about that. I wish that if everybody knows that you’re going to get hurt some day, you don’t even show up. That’s baseball. We just need to keep playing hard, keep playing our game. Whatever happens, happens.’’
But, with all the injuries sustained in San Francisco, Martinez added, “We definitely want to get out of here quick.’’
Amalie Benjamin can be reached at email@example.com.