Dice-KIn what looked to escalate quickly into a possible disaster in the first inning turned into a 2-1 nail biter in favor of the Home Town Team at PETCO Park in San Diego on Friday night. The Sox behind the grittiness of Daisuke Matsuzaka, a stellar bullpen and a 3 for 4 night from Coco Crisp came away with their 3rd win in four tries on the 9 game road trip.

Crisp lead off the game with a base hit to center and stole second, then went to third on sacrifice by Dustin Pedroia. He would die there and the Sox would squander a great opportunity. Then disaster nearly struck.

The bottom of the first saw some wildness from Matsuzaka as he walked the first two Padres and threw a wild pitch in there as well. That brought out pitching coach John Farrell for a conference. Matsuzaka then walked Adrian Gonzalez to load the bases with no one out. Mike Cameron fouled out to Pedroia but newly acquired Michael Barrett followed with a RBI single to center to score Marcus Giles from third and keep the bases loaded. Khalil Greene took strike three looking on a fastball for the second out and Russell Branyan then hit a towering fly out to Wily Mo Pena in right field to end the threat with only one run coming across. Disaster averted.

Maddux and the ugly uniformsPadres starter Greg Maddux, 2nd on the active list in wins with 339, was cruising with a pair of 1-2-3 frames in the second and third. After the lead off single by Crisp to start the game he had retired 9 Sox batters-in-a-row.

On the other side of the bump Matsuzaka seemed to settle in as well.

Since Barrett’s RBI single in the first inning, he retired the next 7-in-a-row including four on strike outs before he issued his 4th walk of the game to Mike Cameron with two outs in the third. Barrett was able to strike again with another single to left, moving Cameron to second. Greene then flew out to Coco in center to end any semblance of another Padre up rising, but with it Matsuzaka was now at 73 pitches through just 3 innings.

The Sox broke out in the fourth inning against Maddux getting a pair of runs on four singles to take a 2-1 lead. Pedroia lead off with a single to right, after a David Ortiz fly out to left Manny Ramirez would single to center. Kevin Youkilis would follow with a single to center to score Pedroia and tie the game at 1-1 but Jason Varitek would send Matsuzaka back out to the mound with a lead with a RBI single to center to score Ramirez. Maddux would then get a fielder’s choice by Pena and a strike out of Julio Lugo to end the inning.

They say it’s important to hold the other team off the scoreboard the at bat after you score. Well the Sox and Daisuke were able to do that getting a 1-2-3 inning that featured Matsuzaka’s 5th and 6th strikeouts of the night against Branyan and Maddux.

Maddux started the fifth by getting Matsuzaka on a ground out to start the inning and Crisp followed with a one single but got caught stealing second by Barrett then Pedroia lined out to end the end the inning.

The Pad’s threatened in the fifth. Giles struck out to start the inning, Cruz Jr. singled and stole second and Gonzalez popped out to Pedroia. Matsuzaka then issued his 5th walk this one to Cameron but Barrett’s ball that was ticketed for center field and a tie game was intercepted by Pedroia with a running, leaping catch behind the bag to douse the flames.

Both teams tried to do some additional damage in the 6th. Boston got a one out double by Ramirez and a two out intentional walk to Varitek but Pena grounded into a fielder’s choice to Kevin Kouzmanoff at third to kill that rally. San Diego had a lead off single by Greene but Matsuzaka whiffed Branyan, got a fielder’s choice out of Kouzmanoff to Youkilis at third for the second out. Chase Headley pinch hit for Maddux and got an infield single but Giles K’d for the third time on the night and that was that.

The Sox tried again in the seventh but all they could muster was the third hit of the game by Coco, who now is officially “EN FUEGO”. The Padres as well could only muster a single to left by Gonzalez off of Javier Lopez. Manny Del Carmen then came in and got the last two outs of the inning against the clean up hitter Cameron and the five hole guy Barrett who seemed to always have a chance to do damage tonight.

In the 8th Hideki Okajima came in and dropped yet another 1-2-3 inning into the book with a pair of strikeouts of Greene and Kouzmanoff.

Lefty Royce Ring, who was recalled Friday from Triple A, pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the 9th striking out the side of Varitek, newly recalled David Murphy and Lugo.

Jonathan Papelbon came on in the ninth and preserved the 2-1 win for Matsuzaka and the Sox allowing only a two out single to Cruz Jr. Paps was able to shut the door on the win when he closed out Gonzalez with his second strike out of the inning for the final out of his 17th save.


Notes and Musings:

Steve’s Scorecard

Amalie Benjamin says the Sox are looking at the possibility of keeping Curt Schilling on DL until after the All-Star break. This will give Schilling a 22-day reprieve to rest his ailing shoulder.

Murphy was recalled to take Schilling’s roster spot for the weekend. The Sox feel that playing in a National League park having an extra bat will be a good thing. Gordon Edes is reporting that Kason Gabbard and not Jon Lester will make the spot start on Tuesday in Seattle.

2nd round Draft pick Ryan Dent took BP with the team today in San Diego, he and the Sox first pick Nick Haggadone are close to signing contracts.

The Sox have won 10 of their last 15 games.

The last time Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched at PETCO Park in San Diego he was named MVP of the World Baseball Classic on March 20, 2006.

Greg Maddux is now 5-1 lifetime v Boston in 8 starts.

After catching his cleat while throwing a pitch to Ortiz, Maddux fell to the ground throwing the ball off the backstop. After he got up showing his sense of humor he asked the home plate umpire if the pitch was a ball.

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The Red Sox have the best road record in baseball at 24-13 .648

Mike Lowell and J.D Drew didn’t start tonight. David Ortiz played first base and Kevin Youkilis moved to third base. Wily Mo Pena started in RF.

The Padres wore their 1980’s retro home uniforms tonight, while the Sox wore their 1980’s road uni’s.

Wednesdays 11-0 win v Atlanta was the 10th time in 2007 the Red Sox have scored 10 or more runs in a game.

The Fathers have several former Red Sox connections with them. They include P David Wells, C Josh Bard, P Cla Meredith, OF Jose Cruz Jr. and coach Glenn Hoffman, brother of Trevor. While the Sox have C Doug Mirabelli, GM Theo Epstein, CEO Larry Lucchino and radio announcer Glenn “3×5” Geffner.

All three games are sold out at PETCO. The series is expected to set a PETCO record for a three game series.

Greg Maddux, with 339, has the highest total of wins for an opponent the Red Sox have faced since Walter Johnson, with 417, in 1927. The previous high was Steve Carlton with 329 on August 23, 1987. Since 1927, the Sox have faced 300 game winners 24 times. They are Gaylord Perry (6x), Phil Niekro (4x), Roger Clemens (3x), Nolan Ryan (3x), Tom Seaver (2x), Don Sutton (2x), Steve Carlton (2x) and now Maddux for the second time.

Michael Barrett is in his second day as a Padre after being traded by the Cubs. He has yet to punch anyone out on the pitching staff. My bet though is that Wells would be the most likely recipient of a Barrett hook.

Mike Cameron the one time replacement for Ken Griffey Jr. in Seattle is now with his 5th team having played for the Padres, Mets, Mariners, Reds and White Sox.

No sign of Mike Timlin in the 7th as Terry Francona went with Javier Lopez and Manny DelCarmen. DelCarmen was throwing “cheese” as he hit 97 mph on the gun at PETCO.

The Padres PR staff doctored up the Red Sox player’s photos for the Diamond Vision. Varitek had a mohawk and a nose ring, Manny looked like he was in the Glam-band Poison and Youkilis looked kinda like the Terminator with a spiked haircut and aviator shades. Ortiz was done up like Mr.T.