It wasn’t always pretty at times, and he may have set a season-high for walks, but John Lackey did well more than enough for the Red Sox on Friday as their offense clobbered the Astros in the first game of their series in Houston.
Lackey went six innings, allowing two runs on four hits with five walks and three strikeouts, earning his 10th win of the year as the Sox blew out the ‘Stros 8-3.
Jose Altuve flew out to right on Lackey’s second pitch of the game, before Jason Castro grounded out to second for two outs on just five pitches. Lackey walked Matt Dominguez for the Astros’ first baserunner, but Jon Singleton flew out to right to end the first with no score.
Lackey struck out Chris Carter and Robbie Grossman to start the bottom of the second and then saw Enrique Hernandez fly out to center for a 1-2-3 frame.
After the Sox gave him a 2-0 lead in the top of the third, Lackey made an impressive field and flip to first on bunt bid by Marwin Gonzalez. L.J. Hoes walked and moved up to second when Altuve grounded out to third. Lackey struck out Castro to strand Hoes in scoring position.
Lackey got Dominguez to pop up to second for the first out of the bottom of the fourth before he walked Singleton after a 10-pitch at bat. Carter then popped out to shortstop for the second out of the inning. A balk called on Lackey let Singleton take second before Grossman walked to put two Houston runners on first the first time in the game. Hernandez then singled up the middle for the first Astros hit that scored Singleton before Gonzalez grounded out to end the inning.
Hoes and Altuve gave Lackey two outs on just two pitches in the bottom of the fifth, as Hoes popped out to first and Altuve flew out to right. Castro then doubled to right, but he’d stay there as Dominguez grounded out to third to send the Sox off the field with Lackey at 88 pitches.
The Red Sox gave Lackey a commanding 8-1 advantage with five runs in the top of the sixth and he got Singleton to ground out to first to start the bottom of the frame. Carter took him deep for a solo shot that made it 8-2 before Grossman flew out to center. Hernandez drew a walk as Lackey moved over 110 pitches for the night, followed by a Gonzalez single to center, but the Sox got out of it when Hoes bounced out to shortstop.
Lackey saw his night end after the sixth, having thrown 117 pitches on the evening, as Burke Badenhop came in for the bottom of the seventh. The Sox starter allowed fewer than five earned runs for the first time since he shut out the Twins over nine innings on June 18.
Lackey seemed to be in a bit of a rough patch before Friday’s start, so the All-Star break may have come at a good time for him to get some rest and come back strong for the second half of the year.