June 26, 2013

Lackey strikes out 12, Sox sweep Rockies

The Associated Press

BOSTON — John Lackey certainly looks and sounds fully recovered from elbow-ligament replacement surgery. It shows both on and off the mound.

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Boston Red Sox starting pitcher John Lackey claps after striking out Colorado Rockies' Tyler Colvin to end the top of the fourth inning of an interleague baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Wednesday, June 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

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Boston Red Sox's Stephen Drew (7) is tagged out at the plate by Colorado Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba as he tries to score on a fielder's choice during the sixth inning of an interleague baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Wednesday, June 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Lackey struck out a season-high 12 over seven strong innings and Daniel Nava drove in two runs, leading the Boston Red Sox to a 5-3 victory Wednesday and a sweep of the two-game series against the Colorado Rockies.

"Probably the strongest he's been all year," Boston manager John Farrell said. "Outstanding fastball command, good power to it and a lot of strikes."

The 34-year old right-hander gave up two runs and eight hits without walking a batter. Mixing a fastball and slider most of the time, he threw 73 of 98 pitches for strikes.

Lackey (5-5), who missed all of last season rehabbing from the Tommy John surgery, struck out nine over the first four innings — getting three each in the first, second and fourth — while allowing Wilin Rosario's first-inning RBI single.

"I've been feeling pretty good," Lackey said, often breaking into smiles and joking, a big change from his demeanor in his early days in Boston. "I still feel like I'm getting stronger. It was a process, a lot of work, I'm still building."

With the top two starters in the rotation — Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz — both going through tough stretches, Lackey knows he's been one to pitch in big games.

"Jon will be fine. Clay has done great. I'm not worried about those guys," he said. "I've been the guy that has gone first in playoff games."

Lester has struggled after a strong start, losing three of his last four decisions. Buchholz is currently on the 15-day disabled with a neck strain.

Lackey had his 14th career double-digit strikeout game, first since Oct. 3, 2010.

"It speaks to where my stuff's at right now," he said of the strikeouts.

Shane Victorino had three hits and Dustin Pedroia added two for the Red Sox.

Roy Oswalt (0-2), making his second start since being recalled from Double-A, allowed five runs and nine hits in six innings, striking out five and walking one.

Colorado's Michael Cuddyer extended his hitting streak to 23 games with two solo homers, matching Dante Bichette's club-record set in 1995.

"The Red Sox are good at putting the ball in play and creating some things. It was a lot of contact, a lot of action, and I just think they found some holes early," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "I thought Roy settled in and made good use of his fastball as he went along. In the end, battled for us to give us six."

The Rockies finished a road trip in which they lost seven of nine.

New Boston closer Koji Uehara worked a perfect ninth for his second save.

The Red Sox wasted little time jumping to a 3-1 lead against Oswalt in the first. Jacoby Ellsbury had a leadoff double and scored on Victorino's single to right. David Ortiz followed with his 499th career double, a drive high off the Green Monster that scored Victorino. Nava then had an RBI single when the ball bounced off the second-base bag and into short left just as shortstop Josh Rutledge was attempting to make a play on it.

Oswalt, 3-2 with a 2.16 ERA Double-A Tulsa, struck out 11 without allowing a walk in his first start against Washington last Thursday.

(Continued on page 2)

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