ARLINGTON, Texas — Boston Red Sox right-hander John Lackey felt right at home, putting on his boots and a wide-brim cowboy hat after another solid outing.
With the Lone Star State native on the mound and a couple former Rangers catchers getting run-producing hits, the Red Sox got a series-clinching 5-2 victory at Texas on Sunday. Boston is above .500 for the first time since its first series.
After A.J. Pierzynski and Mike Napoli provided a 3-0 lead before his first pitch, Lackey (5-2) struck out nine while allowing two runs over seven innings. The big right-hander threw 75 of 105 pitches for strikes and walked none.
“It’s nice to go out there when you already have a 3-0 lead,” Lackey said. “It kind of lets you relax a little bit and pound the strike zone.”
A few teammates called out “country boy” and “cowboy” as he stood at his locker after the game. He was headed to his home in nearby Fort Worth and planned to spend time Monday – an off day for the Red Sox – at his ranch.
“He threw the ball great,” Pierzynski said. “We jumped on them a little bit early and got some runs. That kind of put it in cruise control.”
Napoli put the Red Sox ahead to stay with an RBI double, two batters before Pierzynski’s two-run single off Robbie Ross (1-4). Both went to Boston as free agents after being in Texas – Pierzynski was the Rangers’ primary catcher last season, and Napoli was there the previous two years.
Koji Uehara, who also went from Texas to Boston in 2013, worked a perfect ninth for his ninth save in a row.
The Red Sox (19-18) won the last two games in the series after being held to one hit Friday night by Yu Darvish. They have won six of their last eight games, including their last three series, and have a winning record for the first time since winning two of three in the season-opening series at Baltimore.
“It’s probably as much about the series, not so much the overall record,” Manager John Farrell said. “It’s encouraging to see on day three when you’ve got a chance to either sweep or win that rubber game, we’ve been able to put together a very good effort.”
Shin-Soo Choo homered for the Rangers, who have lost 10 of 14 overall and seven of their last nine home games.
Ross made it through 62/3 innings and a career-high 112 pitches, settling down after falling behind 4-0 in the first two innings.
“He had a little rough first inning, trying to get the ball where he wanted to. But after that I thought he settled down and pitched well,” Manager Ron Washington said. “I like his recovery.”
Dustin Pedroia’s two-out solo homer in the seventh chased Ross. It was the first Red Sox hit since Jonny Gomes’ one-out single in the third.
Ross faced the minimum 13 batters in between, with one runner reaching on an error before being wiped out on a double-play grounder.
It was the second homer for Pedroia, who led off the game with a double before Napoli drove him home.
Choo hit his fourth homer in the fourth to make it 4-1. Mitch Moreland had an RBI double in the seventh before Lackey struck out his final two batters with two runners on base.
NOTES: Boston is 10-4 against left-handed starters. … The Red Sox won the season series 4-2. The Rangers had won the series each of the previous five seasons. …. Red Sox 3B Will Middlebrooks was scratched because of soreness in his right hand after being hit by a pitch Saturday night. The Red Sox expect him to be available for their next game Tuesday. … Napoli has reached base in 31 consecutive games.