Lowell 3 hits, 5 RBI

Led by Mike Lowell’s 3 hits and 5 RBI as well as 3 hit nights from Dustin Pedroia, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz the Boston Red Sox handed the Oakland A’s an 11-6 loss at Fenway Park Wednesday night. The win moves them one game closer to clinching the American East Division title for the first time since 1995.

Red Sox lefty Jon Lester looked really good early on cruising through the first two innings allowing just a double to Daric Barton and a single to Mark Ellis while striking out five on 28 pitches.

LesterFor as solid as he was in the first two frames he got a bit rattled in the third as Oakland jumped on the scoreboard first courtesy of a hit, an error, a walk and a sacrifice fly. After striking out Jack Hannahan for his sixth whiff of the night, Donnie Murphy singled to left, Shannon Stewart who struck out his first time hit a one hopper back to Lester. What looked like a sure fire double play to end the inning turned into a bounced throw to second and a tag on Murphy by Julio Lugo that was missed by umpire Gary Darling. Barton walked to load the bases and Nick Swisher flew out to Jacoby Ellsbury in center to bring home Murphy with the A’s run. Lester then got Mike Piazza to ground out to end the inning.

The Sox steamed back in the bottom of the third with a combination of hits, a sacrifice fly and 3 walks by Joe Blanton who had only walked 37 the entire season prior to tonight. Pedroia led off with a walk, Ramirez singled to right, Ortiz drew the second free pass of the inning and Lowell singled to right to score Pedroia and Ramirez and it was 2-1 Boston. The two RBI by Lowell gave him 113 on the season a new record for a Red Sox third baseman breaking the old mark of 112 set by Butch Hobson in 1977. JD Drew’s sacrifice fly to center field scored Ortiz and it was 3-1 Sox. Blanton then struck out Kevin Youkilis, walked Jason Varitek and then struck out Ellsbury to end the threat and leave two runners on.

Murphy rounds them allLester started the 4th inning with a pair of strikeouts of Jack Cust and Ellis to give him a season high of 8. Then he walked Kurt Suzuki, Hannahan singled and then Murphy hit a ball over everything in left for a 3 run home run his 6th of the year and like that it was 4-1 Oakland. Steward singled but Barton flew out to Ellsbury to end the inning.

The Sox came right back in their half with one out Pedroia doubled to left, Ramirez got his third single of the night to drive in Pedroia and the game was tied 4-4. Ortiz singled to right to send Ramirez to third and Blanton was in trouble again. Lowell looped a single over the infield for his 3rd RBI of the night scoring Ramirez and the Sox led 5-4. Lowell actually drew a throw from Ellis and hit the bag odd and was limping. After the staff looked at him he stayed in the game and ended up being forced at second when Drew hit into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.

Piazza tied the game 5-5 with a solo home run into the Monster Seats in left in the fifth with one out. It was his 8th of the year and the second Lester had given up in the game. Cust then walked and that was the end of Lester’s evening. Just when it looked like Lester was going to have a very good outing and be a major consideration for the post-season roster he imploded. Lester yielded 5 runs, all earned, 7 hits, 3 walks and struck out nine in 4.1 innings. Kyle Snyder came on to replace him and Ellis greeted him with his second hit of the night a single to left to out two men on. Snyder got a pair of fly outs by Suzuki and Hannahan to end the inning and keep the game tied.

Pedroia ater his HRThe Sox broke it open in the 6th off of reliever Terry Blevins. Pedroia led off with his 8th home run to give the Red Sox a 6-5 lead. Ramirez walked and was run for by Brandon Moss. Ortiz doubled off the left field scoreboard and they would both score on Lowell’s 2 RBI single, his 4th and 5th RBI of the night, off the wall to give Boston an 8-5 lead. Drew then hit a long fly to center field that was misplayed by Swisher to put runners on 2nd and 3rd still with no one out. That chased Blevins (0-1) for Ruddy Lugo who promptly walked Youkilis to load the bases. Lugo then whiffed Varitek, buy yielded the Sox 9th run on an Ellsbury ground out then ended the inning by getting his brother to fly out to center.

The Sox worked their way through the 6th by mixing and matching Snyder with Javier Lopez and Mike Timlin, Timlin (2-1) stayed on and worked a scoreless 7th as well.

Ortiz had 3 hitsThe Sox added another pair in the bottom of the 7th. Pedroia got his 3rd hit of the night and 2nd double, Moss drove him home with a RBI single to make it 10-5 Red Sox. Ortiz doubled off the wall again, it was his third hit of the night but he tweaked his knee and was pinch run for by Royce Clayton. Lowell bounced out to a drawn in Murphy at short holding the runners. Drew was intentionally walked to load the bases and Eric Hinske, pinch hitting for Youkilis struck out but a wild pitch by Andrew Brown allowed Hinske to get to first and Moss to score to give the Sox an 11-5 lead.

Eric Gagne came on and worked the 8th giving up a pair of singles along with striking out two.

Julian Tavarez worked the ninth, giving up a run on a pair of singles and sacrifice fly but 11-6 was as close as Oakland would get.

Notes and Musings:

My Boxscore

Curt Schilling has had 6 quality starts in the 9 appearances since his return from the DL.

Pesky as a player in the Red Sox clubhouseRed Sox legend Johnny Pesky turns 88 on Thursday.  Happy Birthday to a great guy and a class act.

Manny Ramirez batted again 2nd tonight, it was only the 8th time in his career he has hit in the two hole. Last night Manny was 1 for 2 with a single and a walk and a run scored. Tonight he had his 6th three hit night of the year.

Kevin Youkilis returned to the starting lineup tonight, after coming in mid-game last night, and hit 6th. Manager Terry Francona wants to keep him away from the top of the order for now until he’s had some at bats and they see how he feels. Youk finished 0 for 2 last night.

JD Drew is hitting .380 (19 for 50) in his last 14 games.

Jon Lester came into tonight’s game 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA in September.

The Red Sox lead the AL in ERA at 3.87

Put Theo Epstein in an old English schoolboy’s outfit and I think he’d remind you more of Eddie Munster than Angus Young.

The A’s have lost three straight games and are now seasons low 9 games under .500 at 75-84. This will be the first year they haven’t finished first or second in the AL West since 1998.

This was Oakland’s last road game of 2007.

Jack Cust and Nick Swisher have become the 4th set of A’s teammates to each have 100 walks in a season. They have each struck out over 100 times.

The A’s have used a team record 54 players this season.

Joe Blanton has allowed the fewest walks per 9 innings (1.48) for an A’s pitcher since Catfish Hunter (1.30) in 1974.

Mike Winters has an early winter courtesy of his mouth and MLBIt’s looking more and more like the Red Sox will face the Angels in the first round.

Major League Baseball suspended umpire Mike Winters for the rest of the season after his apparent baiting of San Diego’s Milton Bradley. Granted “Game Boy” is certifiable but from what the 1st base coach said the things Winters said to Bradley was way out of line. I’m glad to see MLB going after the umps. Too many times their behavior is way over the line leading to ejection’s and suspensions of players, coaches and managers and yet they walk away seemingly unscathed.