BOSTON -- With the interleague schedule a thing of the past for the 2011 season, the Boston Red Sox returned home to Fenway Park on the Fourth of July to begin a seven-game homestand leading in to the All-Star break.
After posting a 10-8 record against National League teams this summer, the Red Sox entered the final week before the break with a loss as the Toronto Blue Jays posted a 9-7 victory Monday afternoon.
Red Sox starter John Lackey dug too big of a hole early, allowing seven runs on nine hits in his shortest outing (2 1/3 innings) of the season, and Boston could not recover.
Trailing 7-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Red Sox began to chip away with four runs. Boston added three more in the bottom of the eighth to cut Toronto’s lead to 9-7.
The rally in the eighth began with Yamaico Navarro leading off with a single to left. Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz snapped an 0-for-23 slump with an opposite-field ground-rule double to put runners on second and third.
LACKLUSTER: Lackey continued his Jekyll and Hyde performances this season with another subpar outing. The veteran right-hander allowed seven runs on nine hits with no walks and two strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings. It’s the fourth time in just 13 starts this season that he’s allowed seven or more runs. Lackey became the first Sox pitcher since Derek Lowe in 2004 to surrender seven or more runs four times in a season before the Fourth of July.
WHEELER DEALER: After Lackey’s dreadful outing, reliever Dan Wheeler was summoned from the bullpen in an attempt to salvage the game. The right-hander was perfect during his 2 2/3 innings of work, retiring all eight batters he faced.
DRILLED: Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the fourth inning and was removed from the game. Blue Jays starter Brandon Morrow drilled Youkilis in the back, just below his neck on his right side. He dropped to the ground and remained on his knees for a moment while team trainer Greg Barajas and manager Terry Francona tended to him. Youkilis walked off the field on his own and was replaced by Navarro. It was the ninth time this season Youkilis has been hit by a pitch.
WEB GEM: Navarro remained in the game at third base and turned in the defensive play of the game in the seventh. The Jays’ Jose Bautista turned on an Alfredo Aceves offering and hit a chopper down the third-base line. Navarro, ranging back and to his right, snared the ball on the outfield grass and made a quick and accurate throw across the diamond for the second out of the inning. However, two batters later, Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion hit a would-be inning-ending grounder to Navarro, but the ball went through his legs, allowing the Jays’ Adam Lind to score from first base for an 8-4 Toronto lead.
TRIPLE THREAT: Red Sox leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury is having an All-Star season. He’s hitting above .300, has 9 home runs, 42 RBIs and 27 stolen bases. The one thing the speedster was lacking was a triple. He finally collected one with a two-out, two-run three-bagger off Morrow in the bottom of the fifth. Ellsbury ended the day with four hits, two RBIs, a run scored and a stolen base.