What looked like would be a gritty, hard-fought, but ultimately successful night for John Lackey turned into disappointment in a matter of minutes in the sixth inning, as the Red Sox’ starter – along with reliever Burke Badenhop – gave up four unanswered runs to the Orioles that turned a one-run lead into a three-run deficit, with the Sox falling by a final score of 7-4.
Lackey’s final line on the night was 5 1/3 innings pitched, giving up five runs on 10 hits with one walk and 11 strikeouts.
Nick Markakis flew out to Mookie Betts to center to begin the game before Steve Pearce singled up the middle for Orioles’ first baserunner. Lackey struck out Adam Jones for the second out, then Nelson Cruz doubled to right to put runners on second and third. Lackey got out of it by striking out Chris Davis to end the Baltimore threat.
J.J. Hardy reached on an error by Mike Napoli to start the second. The Sox appeared to have a strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play, but it was ruled Manny Machado interfered with A.J. Pierzynski, resulting in a strike out to Machado and Hardy having to go back to first. Lackey then got Nick Hundley to ground one back to him, then got Jonathan Schoop to fly out to left to retire the side.
Lackey set down the first two hitters on the third inning on a ground out and strike out before Jones singled up the middle and Cruz hit a single to right that moved Jones up to third. Cruz took second uncontested, but Lackey got out of another jam by striking out Davis for the third out.
After Lackey struck out Hardy to start the fourth, Machado singled and came around as Nick Hundley drove one to deep left center for a two-run homer. Schoop then singled to right for the third straight Oriole hit before Lackey struck out Markakis and got Pearce to ground out to third to end the inning, but not before Baltimore took a 2-0 lead.
The Sox gave Lackey a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth and the Sox starter began the fifth by striking out Jones. Cruz got one run back on a liner off the AAA sign on top of the Green Monster to make it 4-3. Lackey put it behind him with back-to-back strikeouts of Davis and Machado to push Lackey to 10 strikeouts and keep the Sox up by one.
Sitting at 102 pitches entering the sixth, Lackey struck out Hundley on four pitches for the first out, then allowed a long single off the Monster to Schoop. After issue his first walk of the game to Markakis, his pitch count had risen to 120 and John Farrell made the switch for Burke Badenhop.
Pearce singled off of Badenhop to plate Schoop from second and tie the game 4-4. Markakis then scored on a misplayed ball by Daniel Nava in right that put Baltimore up 5-4, which closed the book on Lackey.
It was a curious night for the Boston righthander, allowing double digit hits while also recording double digit K’s. The five runs he allowed caused his season ERA to rise from 3.62 to 3.84 as the righthander took his sixth loss of the season.