ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Boston Red Sox lead the majors in numerous offensive categories, including team batting average and runs, so they’re hardly fazed by falling behind early.

Even against Tampa Bay pitcher James Shields, an All-Star.

Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Josh Reddick homered, and John Lackey settled after a shaky first inning, enabling the Red Sox to rally for a 9-5 victory Saturday.

Lackey (7-8) struck out seven while allowing four runs and 10 hits over 52/3 innings for the Red Sox, who retained a 1½-game lead over the New York Yankees and dropped third-place Tampa Bay a season-high six games off the pace in the division.

The Red Sox, despite falling behind 3-0 in the first inning have won seven of their last eight and 11 of 13 since June 30.

“That first inning, (Lackey) was making good pitches. They found a few holes and did some things,” Pedroia said. “I don’t know. We took a deep breath and we were able to come back.”


Shields has been tough on the Red Sox at Tropicana Field, winning 5 of 7 decisions before Saturday. Last month he limited baseball’s highest-scoring team to five singles in a 4-0 victory, one of his three shutouts this season.

“We haven’t had much success on him in a while. Seemed like we were getting into hitter’s counts. Usually he’s getting ahead,” Pedroia said.

“He’s so effective with his change-up, curveball and stuff. We did a good job just grinding it out. He still went deep into the game so that’s a credit to him. We just found a way to get a couple of big hits.”

Reddick’s two-run homer got Boston rolling after Casey Kotchman, Matt Joyce and B.J. Upton staked Shields (8-8) to a lead with RBI singles in the first. Ellsbury went deep for the second straight day with a solo shot off Shields in the fourth.

Pedroia homered for the third consecutive game, extending his season-high hitting streak to 14 games, when he connected off reliever Juan Cruz in the seventh.

David Ortiz had three RBI for Boston, including a two-run double off Shields, who dropped his fourth straight decision.


Shields, who leads the majors with seven complete games, allowed six runs and six hits in six innings.

“I made a few bad pitches and they cost me,” Shields said. “Obviously I settled in the last three innings but by then it was too late.”

Shields, coming off a 1-0 complete-game loss to the Yankees in which he allowed the lone run on an errant pickoff throw to third, gave up four extra-base hits after yielding just five while holding opposing batters to a .178 average over his previous six starts.

Lackey settled after a shaky first two innings, escaping a bases-loaded jam in the second when Kotchman grounded into an inning-ending double play and striking out five of the eight batters he faced during the stretch of the game in which the Red Sox turned their three-run deficit into a 6-3 lead.

Red Sox Manager Terry Francona was encouraged by the way Lackey hung in after the poor start.

While Lackey has been inconsistent this season, he was coming off a nice performance in a combined shutout of Baltimore and has now won two straight decisions.

“The way the game started, the fact that he stayed out there, because those first two innings were long,” Francona said. “(There was) a lot to like. We would love for him to get hot. That would be one of the best things that ever happened to us.”


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