Mother Nature tried to do her absolute best to try and erase John Lackey‘s craptastic start for the Boston Red Sox against the San Diego Padres on Wednesday afternoon. But not even she could help out Lackey and the Red Sox as they fell 5-1 to the San Diego Padres.

Fortunately for the Red Sox, the New York Yankees split their doubleheader with the Cincinnati Reds so they maintain a ½ game lead over the Yanks for first in the AL East. The Rays are 3.5 games behind in third place.

: John Lackey(notes) #41 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after being removed from a game against the San Diego Padres at Fenway Park on June 22, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. The go-ahead run scored on the play. It’s a well known that I’m not a big fan of Lackey at all. Yes I know he’s got some personal issues going on this season but I wasn’t his biggest fan last season either. Sometimes I wonder if he’s a “paycheck player”. And by that I mean does he really care about anything else besides collecting his paycheck twice a month.

He missed the better part of two weeks earlier in the season with an elbow strain and said it won’t get any better without rest and cortisone shots. Now I know the Red Sox have some pitching issues right now with Daisuke Matsuzaka out for the season and Clay Buchholz having a bad back. That’s not to mention the intestinal fortitude issues Josh Beckett is going through.

But would the Red Sox be better served without Lackey in their rotation. I highly doubt he makes it through the rest of 3.5 years here. At some point Theo Epstein will have to realize his mistake and jettison Lackey off to parts unknown. Maybe Lackey can turn things around. Maybe he won’t. My money is on the latter.

He certainly didn’t help himself yesterday after the second rain delay of the afternoon. The scariest part of it all was the fact the Padres had just two hits to pick up four runs in the 4th inning.

Lackey walked Orlando Hudson then hit Anthony Rizzo with a pitch. The speedy Cameron Maybin beat out a sacrifice bunt to load up the sacks. Lackey got Nick Hundley to strikeout but then he walked Will Venable to force in a run. He followed that up by hitting his second batter of the inning in Jason Bartlett to force in another run.

With Chase Headley at the plate, Lackey uncorked a wild pitch to bring in the third run of the inning which made it 4-0. Headley then finished off Lackey’s afternoon with a single to finish off the scoring for the Padres on the day with a single that scored Venable.

Now you know that Lackey was probably praying for the rain to cancel in the game in the top of the 5th when Michael Bowden was out there pitching in an absolute downpour while the base umpires and the Red Sox infield were standing in puddles. He did get his rain delay but unfortunately Mother Nature provided a window to allow the two teams to finish up the game.

You can’t blame Lackey entirely for the loss (99.999999%). That other miniscule percent can go on the offense who left another nine batters on base and was just 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position. Unfortunately only one of those hits resulted in a run and that came off the bat of Adrian Gonzalez who scorched his former team for four hits on the day.

Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia continued their recent hot stretches at the plate adding two hits each to the cause.

This was one of the NL’s worst teams that came into Beantown and they escaped with two wins against the AL’s best team. A team who had been putting up runs on the scoreboard like it was nobody’s business. But poor starting pitching over the last two games on top of missed opportunities doomed the Red Sox.

No worries though for me on the team front. It’s just the 5th loss this month and the Sox are still in first place. But with the dog days of summer coming up, the pitching needs to find itself again and go on another nice little run.

With the Red Sox being off today as they make their way to the Steel City, we’ll be back later with the pitching matchups for the weekend. But for now, enjoy the overnight links from the media by clicking on the read more button below.

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Is there hope for John Lackey? [Alex Speier –]

Sloppy Sox slip and slide [Boston Globe]

A student of the game [Boston Globe]

Lackey has tenuous grip [Boston Globe]

John Lackey, Red Sox all wet [Boston Herald]

John Lackey left at a loss to explain poor start [Boston Herald]

Josh Beckett bid left hanging [Boston Herald]

Red Sox washed out by Padres, 5-1 []

Lackey loses stuff in wet conditions []

Notes: Lowrie (shoulder) will not have surgery []

Rapid reaction: Padres 5, Red Sox 1 [ESPN Boston]

Less likely Boston Red Sox’ Josh Beckett starts Saturday due to flu [ESPN Boston]

John Lackey, Boston Red Sox have dismal time with San Diego Padres [ESPN Boston]

Cafardo: A disappointing series [Extra Bases]

Podcast: Injuries, pitching and more [Extra Bases]

Closing Time: Lackey’s dismal outing leads Sox to loss vs. Padres [Full Count]

Video: Kevin Youkilis Ready to ‘Turn the Page’ After Red Sox Drop Tough Series to Padres []

Persistent Rain, Pesky Padres Sink John Lackey, Red Sox at Fenway []

Boston drops ugly one in series finale [Providence Journal]

Lackey isn’t winning the PR game either [Providence Journal]

Boston vets Hoyer, McLeod turn to young players to build Padres [Providence Journal]

Red Sox Journal: Putting Gonzalez in right not an easy choice [Providence Journal]

Adrian playing the park, park’s not playing him []

For more slices of Red Sox goodness, head over to the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, CSNNEESPN Boston, NESN, Providence Journal, and WEEI websites.

And if you must check out the enemy news, head over to the North Coast Times and San Diego Union-Tribune website. You can also check out our Bloguin brother RJ’s Fro.

Photo credit: Getty Images