Boston Red Sox's John Lackey pitches in the first inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles in Boston, Saturday, July 9, 2011.

It was quite a different night at Fenway Park on Saturday night considering everything that had happened there on Friday night.

There were no fights between any of the players, no pitchers slipping on a wet mound and no big explosions by the Boston Red Sox offense. And with John Lackey on the mound against the Baltimore Orioles, a team he’s dominated in the past, no one was quite sure what to expect considering Lackey’s recent struggles.

Well last night we saw the Lackey that Theo Epstein gave the big free agent contract to. We’d seen pieces of this before this season but he hasn’t completely put together a good stretch just yet.

Hopefully after his start in the 4-0 win, he’ll be able to build upon it after the All-Star break. Lackey went 6 2/3 innings, allowing just three hits and a walk while striking out seven. He also hit two batters in Derek Lee and Nick Markakis.

We’ve all been worried that part of the struggles for Lackey had to do with elbow that saw him land on the disabled list earlier on the season. After seeing his fastball last night, I highly doubt the elbow is the problem at all. He threw his fastball for strikes as it had good life and he commanded it very well. Because of that fastball command, he was able to use his offspeed stuff more effectively then we’ve seen in the past.

When former Red Sox pitching coach and current Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell was in town earlier this week, he had said part of Lackey’s problems were the execution of his pitches. Whatever Curt Young and Lackey worked on to help with the execution of those pitches definitely made things better for Lackey.

Now we can only hope that Lackey and Young continue the work over the All-Star break before his next start. Given the state of the Red Sox rotation right now with all of the injuries, we need more pitching performances like this from Lackey and not some of the previous stinkers.

Alfredo Simon was making his first start for the Orioles in two years and he did his best to match zeroes with his counterpart. The Red Sox didn’t make it easy on him either.

Simon had to work out of a bases loaded jam in the first when he got David Ortiz to ground into an inning-ending double play. He allowed one runner to reach the next three innings as well but no damage was done. However in the 5th inning is when Simon’s luck ran out.

After Marco Scutaro flew out to start the inning, Jacoby Ellsbury followed with his second triple of the season. Dustin Pedroia then grounded into a fielder’s choice that saw Ellsbury get caught by Simon. Heads up baserunning though by Pedey as he ended up at second base. The Orioles decided to intentionally walk Adrian Gonzalez.

The move didn’t work out though as Kevin Youkilis doubled in Pedroia to put the Red Sox out front 1-0. Once again, the Orioles decided to use the intentional walk, this time to Big Papi. And yet again the move failed for the Orioles as Josh Reddick doubled to bring in Gonzo and Youk to make it 3-0 and ending the night for Simon. The Red Sox added another run in the 7th when Pedroia and Youk doubled.

Both Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon were outstanding out of the bullpen in helping preserve the shutout. And ironically enough, Papelbon didn’t make an adventure out of it as he recorded his first 1-2-3 inning in ages. 

With the All-Star break starting on Monday, the Red Sox can do no worse than be in a tie for first place with the New York Yankees since their lead is still at one game. Considering how the season started, this is great. Hopefully, the Red Sox can get the sweep this afternoon and hold first place by themselves. Because that would just be so much better than having to hear the Yankees fans saying they’re in first place as well.

We’ll be back in a bit with today’s lineups, batter/pitcher matchups and any links from the morning. But for now, enjoy the overnight links by clicking on the read more button below.

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Crawford diary: Talking DL, All-Star game, second half and more [Carl Crawford- ESPN Boston]

Kyle Weiland’s long road to the Red Sox rotation [Alex Speier –]

Sox cheered by this victory [Boston Globe]

Bard, bullpen holding steady [Boston Globe]

Youkilis eager for his star turn [Boston Globe]

Ortiz regrets altercation [Boston Globe]

Not a bad time to go to pieces [Boston Globe]

Lackey ‘O’ so good [Boston Herald]

Ortiz pulls no punches [Boston Herald]

Jeter’s heroics mirror Biggio [Boston Herald]

Hit parade continues for Redd-hot OF [Boston Herald]

Bard lights-out yet again [Boston Herald]

Sox tip hat to Jeter [Boston Herald]

Lackey impressive as Sox blank O’s, 4-0 []

Lackey enjoys rare warm reception from fans []

Red Sox notes: Ortiz looks back at brawl []

Rapid reaction: Red Sox 4, Orioles 0 [ESPN Boston]

Jose Iglesias, Ryan Kalish still day-to-day [Full Count]

Closing time: John Lackey silences his critics in 4-0 win [Full Count]

John Lackey feels the same, but looks better [Full Count]

What a difference a year makes for Jacoby Ellsbury [Full Count]

Video: David Ortiz Says Marco Scutaro Looked Like Kevin Gregg’s Backpack When He Jumped in During Brawl []

Video: Red Sox Players, Wives to Host ‘Picnic in the Park’ After July 24 Game, Offering Fans Unique Opportunity []

Video: Terry Francona Impressed With John Lackey’s Effectiveness Against Orioles []

Video: John Lackey Says Arm Feeling Better, Stronger, Guarantees He’ll Work Hard, Compete Hard []

Video: Kevin Youkilis Praises Red Sox’ Ability to Find Ways to Push Across Runs []

Red Sox to Offer Free Skin Cancer Screenings During Sunday’s Game Against Orioles []

Kyle Weiland ready for major-league debut [Projo Sox Blog]

Futures Game participant Chiang catching fire for Double-A Portland [Projo Sox Blog]

Lackey gets his groove back [Providence Journal]

Ortiz issues roundabout apology for brawl [Providence Journal]

Sox sitting right where we expected despite soap opera season [Providence Journal]

Orioles showed plenty of fight, but will it help [Providence Journal]

Red Sox Journal: Beckett to throw side session on Sunday [Providence Journal]

Albers turning into solid cog in Sox’s bullpen []

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 Baltimore Sun website. You can also check out our Bloguin brother, the Oriole Post.

Photo credit: AP Photo