BOSTON – Fans stood and cheered John Lackey only five days after another Fenway Park crowd booed Boston’s struggling starter following his worst performance in a Red Sox uniform.

“It was nice,” he said.

The 10-year veteran struggling through his second season with Boston took the cheers in stride, just as he did his best outing of the year — a 4-0 win over the Baltimore Orioles in which he allowed three hits in 62/3 innings Saturday night.

“There’s a fine line between good and bad,” Lackey said. “My arm felt about the same as it did in the last start, honestly.”

It followed a stint of 21/3 innings in which he allowed seven runs in a 9-7 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. His velocity was about the same, but his improved location gave the Orioles trouble.

Red Sox Manager Terry Francona was pleased with the fans’ response toward Lackey.


“Our fans are dying to show their appreciation,” he said. “I know they boo sometimes. They care about their team.”

Lackey lowered his ERA from 7.47 to 6.84 and ended his three-game losing streak. The Red Sox won their fifth straight game and ninth in their past 10.

“He has a pedigree of pitching pretty well,” Baltimore Manager Buck Showalter said. “He hasn’t done it much, but he did (Saturday night).”

Alfredo Simon (1-2) allowed three runs in the fifth on an RBI double by Kevin Youkilis and a two-run double by Josh Reddick.

Youkilis added another run-scoring double in the seventh off Mark Hendrickson.

Boston maintained its one-game lead in the American League East over the New York Yankees, who beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-4.


The Orioles, last in the division, suffered their sixth straight loss and 11th in 12 games.

Lackey got a standing ovation as he strode to the dugout when he was replaced by Daniel Bard with two outs and runners at first and second in the seventh. They were stranded when Nolan Reimold popped out to shortstop Marco Scutaro.

Bard then struck out two in the eighth, extending his streak to 181/3 scoreless innings. But he was left off the AL team for Tuesday’s All-Star game.

“If Daniel Bard’s not (an All-Star) nobody is,” Francona said. “I know the rules are what they are, but he’s some kind of good.”

Lackey struck out seven and walked one the day after Boston’s 10-3 win in which the benches cleared twice in the eighth inning, the first after Kevin Gregg’s inside pitch to David Ortiz and the second after Ortiz charged Gregg when the pitcher gestured at him as he started down the first-base line on a fly out.

Both punched at each other, but failed to connect

Ortiz apologized on Saturday “to everyone for the situation … even to Gregg.”


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