Cubs Vs. Red Sox: Tim Wakefield Delivers Strong Start, Boston Defeats Chicago, 5-1

Tim Wakefield pitched six and two thirds quality innings, allowing one run on four hits while striking out three, as the Boston Red Sox defeated the Chicago Cubs, 5-1, in the series finale on Sunday night at Fenway Park. Read more at Baseball Nation and our team blogs, Bleed Cubbie Blue and Over The Monster.

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Red Sox 5, Cubs 1: Red Sox Back Tim Wakefield's Strong Start, Take Rubber Match From Cubs

The Red Sox won their fourth straight series Sunday, taking the rubber match from the Chicago Cubs 5-1 behind a strong start from Tim Wakefield.

With Alfredo Aceves throwing five innings of one-run ball Saturday, Tim Wakefield had a difficult act to follow, but didn't flinch at the challenge. Not only was the knuckleball dancing for the 44-year-old veteran, but it was dancing through the zone, allowing Wakefield to keep his pitch count low as the Cubs ground out over and over again. By the end of the fifth, the only reason Wakefield was over the minimum was because a knuckleball in the fifth managed to fool Jarrod Saltalamacchia as badly as it did Jeff Baker, allowing the Cubs to reach first base for only the second time.

While the Red Sox were not in the same form they were when they scored 15 runs on Friday, they did have Wakefield's back. After loading the bases with no outs in the fourth, the Sox put on an unusual display of situational hitting, bringing in both Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis home on sacrifice flies. With Jarrod Saltalamacchia leading off the sixth with his third homer of the year, the score was 3-0.

Wakefield finally ran into some trouble in the seventh inning, allowing a leadoff double to Starlin Castro, and then an RBI double with two outs to break up the shutout. That was all they would get though, as Wakefield was pulled for Daniel Bard, who struck out Alfonso Soriano to end the threat.

The Red Sox would add to their lead in the bottom of the frame thanks to a quick two-out rally that started on an infield single from Dustin Pedroia. Having lucked out on their first hit, the Red Sox took advantage. Adrian Gonzalez added a base hit of his own--his fourth of the night--setting up the RBI opportunity for Kevin Youkilis, who brought both baserunners in with a triple into the triangle in center field.

As it turned out, though, the extra runs would be entirely unnecessary. Daniel Bard erased some memories of an eight-run eighth on Saturday by turning in a 1-2-3 performance, and Jonathan Papelbon stranded Aramis Ramirez at second, striking out Carlos Pena to end the game.

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Cubs Vs. Red Sox: Marlon Byrd Placed On 15-Day Disabled List

Chicago Cubs outfielder Marlon Byrd has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with facial fractures. Right-handed pitcher Justin Berg has been called up by the Cubs in place of Byrd, and will wear No. 64 in Sunday night's game at Fenway Park.

Byrd was hit below his left eye on a pitch from Alfredo Aceves in the second inning of Saturday night's game. Byrd immediately left the game and was taken to a local hospital for tests and stayed overnight for observation.

This season, Byrd is batting .308 with three home runs and 11 RBI in 44 games with Chicago.

Berg, who will be making his second stint with the Cubs this season, is 0-0 with a 4.09 ERA in six appearances this season. In seven relief appearances with AAA-Iowa, Berg is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA and two earned runs in eight innings.

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Cubs Vs. Red Sox Lineups: Mike Cameron In Against Lefty James Russell

With Matt Garza missing his scheduled start Sunday against the Red Sox, the Cubs have tabbed James Russell to take the mound. Given the Red Sox’ left-handed lineup, it’s no surprise that the Cubs would elect to go with a southpaw, forcing the Sox to respond by switching J.D. Drew out for Mike Cameron.

Boston Red Sox (24-21)

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
4. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
5. David Ortiz, DH
6. Jed Lowrie, SS
7. Mike Cameron, RF
8. Carl Crawford, LF
9. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Tim Wakefield, SP

Chicago Cubs (20-24)
1. Kosuke Fukudome, RF
2. Darwin Barney, 2B
3. Starlin Castro, SS
4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B
5. Carlos Pena, 1B
6. Jeff Baker, LF
7. Rafael Soriano, DH
8. Welington Castillo, C
9. Reed Johnson, CF
— James Russell, SP

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Cubs 9, Red Sox 3: Eighth Inning Comedy Of Errors Leaves Red Sox Reeling

Six outs away from taking over sole possession of first place in the American League East, the Red Sox suffered through one of the worst innings in recent memory, giving up eight runs en route to a 9-3 loss.

With Alfredo Aceves on the mound, the Red Sox had to be more worried about the efficacy of their starter than anything else entering into Saturday's game. And while there were some troubles with wildness, those fears proved largely unfounded. Aceves would hit Kosuke Fukudome with the second pitch of the game, and then in a scary moment catch Marlon Byrd in the face with a fastball--he would be taken to a hospital fully concious--but escaped both frames unscathed. 

With Carlos Zambrano putting up scoreless innings of his own, the Cubs struck first in the third on a two-out double from Aramis Ramirez with runners at the corners which gave them a 1-0 lead. It wouldn't last long, though, as Zambrano allowed a two-run bomb to David Ortiz, his ninth of the year. The Sox would build the lead to 3-1 in the sixth when Jacoby Ellsbury singled home Carl Crawford.

With Aceves not fully stretched out, Terry Francona turned to his bullpen after 86 pitches and five innings from the replacement starter. For the first two innings, this worked, as Dan Wheeler and Rich Hill held the Cubs down in the sixth and seventh.

Then came Matt Albers and the eighth.

To this point in the season, Matt Albers had been one of the more pleasant surprises on the Red Sox. But he looked a lot more like his old self Saturday, allowing a pair of singles to start the inning and then walking Aramis Ramirez after a 10-pitch at bat. With Terry Francona neglecting to get another pitcher warmed up behind him, Matt Albers was allowed to walk in a run, and then give up a loud bases-loaded double to Reed Johnson to make it a 4-3 Cubs lead.

If Albers wasn't bad enough, suddenly the Red Sox' defense started to fall apart. Alfonso Soriano appeared to make the first out when he popped up to short, but Jed Lowrie let the ball bounce off his glove to bring in a fifth run. With Franklin Morales in, a double from Jeff Baker made it 6-3, and things just got worse when, on a fly ball to J.D. Drew, the Sox appeared to have Alfonso Soriano caught between third and home. Instead, two runs scored as Jason Varitek threw the ball over Kevin Youkilis' head shortly before Morales failed to come up with the throw from left field. One more double later, and the Red Sox were left stunned and on the wrong end of a 9-3 rout by the Cubs.

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Cubs Vs. Red Sox: Boston Is 'One Of The Best Teams In The League'

Remember when the Boston Red Sox got off to a 2-10 start and had the worst record in the majors? Well, those days are clearly behind Boston, which won its seventh straight game with a 15-5 pounding of the Chicago Cubs on Friday.

Boston pounded out 19 hits, six of which were doubles, in the series-opening rout. Adrian Gonzalez continued his hot streak, collecting four hits and four RBI, and was never in doubt that the Red Sox could come back from their bad beginning.

"I always have faith in my team. Look at our roster and the talent we have. I believe this is one of the best teams in the league. You can never lose your cool. You'll never see me do that," Gonzalez said. (via Extra Bases - The Boston Globe)

The Red Sox face the Cubs in Game 2 of the series at Fenway Park on Saturday night.

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Red Sox 15, Cubs 5: Red Sox Welcome Cubs Back To Fenway With A Rout

32 games after starting 2-10, the Red Sox have pulled within a half game of the AL East lead and are now the frontrunners in the wild card race. All this on the back of a 15-5 rout of the Chicago Cubs Friday as they returned to Fenway for the first time in 93 years.

The scoring started early for the Red Sox, as their first four batters of the game reached base. Jacoby Ellsbury would score on a throwing error he forced by stealing second and third, and Dustin Pedroia crossed the plate on a single off the bat of Adrian Gonzalez. While the Sox seemed poised to break things open, Adrian Gonzalez opted to remain at third base on a David Ortiz fly ball, and while both Jed Lowrie and Mike Cameron hit the ball very hard, it found a glove each time to end the threat.

On many nights a two-run first would be all that was needed for Jon Lester. But as has been the case in May, it would not prove nearly enough tonight. Having a pair of men on base in both the first and second innings, the Cubs broke through against Lester in the third, scoring two runs on three straight hits and a ground out to tie the game.

Lester wouldn't ever really settle down, being hit hard by the Cubs' lineup of eight righties for the six innings he pitched, giving up five runs along the way, but it would hardly matter, because the Red Sox offense was finally firing on all cylinders. The Sox broke the 2-2 tie in the bottom of the third on a sacrifice fly from Kevin Youklis and a single from Jed Lowrie-they would have had another run, arguably, but Adrian Gonzalez was sent home by Bogar trying to score from first on a David Ortiz double and was out by a mile.

4-2 very quickly became 8-2 in the fourth. Jarrod Saltalamacchia walked with one out, moved to third on a Dustin Pedroia double, and then scored along with the second baseman on a single from Adrian Gonzalez. With starter Doug Davis finally out of the game, Kevin Youkilis welcomed Scott Maine by taking a 2-1 fastball and losing it well over the Green Monster for one of the loudest and longest homers Fenway has seen this year. One frame later it was Jarrod Satlamacchia homering and Jacoby Ellsbury scoring on a double play to make it 10-5.

The Cubs' bullpen finally slowed the Red Sox down some, but couldn't keep them quiet all day. The bats showed up for one last hurrah in the ninth inning. The Sox batted around and picked up bases loaded hits from Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury to put a five-run exclamation mark on the game. Scott Atchison threw three scoreless innings to keep the rest of the pen well rested, and the Sox took sole possession of first place in the wild card race for the first time this year.

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Cubs Vs. Red Sox Lineups: Mike Cameron Starts Against Doug Davis

The Red Sox and Cubs are meeting in Fenway for the first time in 93 years. And while the rules have changed a bit (designated what now?), it’s still nine men to a lineup

Boston Red Sox (23-20)

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
4. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
5. David Ortiz, DH
6. Jed Lowrie, SS
7. Mike Cameron, RF
8. Carl Crawford, LF
9. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Jon Lester, SP

Facing off against lefty Doug Davis, the Sox move Jed Lowrie up in the order to sixth and give Mike Cameron a start in right field. While Cameron is typically a lefty-killer, that hasn’t proven to be the case in 2011. It’s been so bad for Cameron, in fact, that J.D. Drew has been considerably more impressive against southpaws.

Chicago Cubs (19-23)

1. Starlin Castro, SS
2. Darwin Barney, 2B
3. Jeff Baker, 3B
4. Aramis Ramirez, DH
5. Carlos Pena, 1B
6. Marlon Byrd, CF
7. Rafael Soriano, LF
8. Reed Johnson, RF
9. Koyie Hill, C
— Doug Davis, SP

Aramis Ramirez doesn’t really fit the typical DH mould, but that’s maybe to be expected from an NL team. What’s scary about this lineup is how many Cubs hitters have big splits against lefties. Jon Lester could be in for something of a surprise tonight.

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Cubs Vs. Red Sox: Chicago Visits Fenway Park For First Time Since 1918

For the first time since the 1918 World Series, the Chicago Cubs will visit Fenway Park, kicking off a three-game series with the Boston Red Sox Friday night at 7:05 p.m. ET as Major League Baseball ushers in another edition of interleague play. 

It has been nearly a century since the Cubs organization paid a visit to the historic grounds of Fenway Park. The last time they did, with World War I raging in the background, the Red Sox defeated the Cubs in six games to win the World Series, their fifth since 1903. Ruth was the winning pitcher for Boston in two of those games, while Chicago's top hurler, Hippo Vaughn, was 1-2 despite a 1.00 earned run average.

The Cubs and Red Sox last met in 2005, again as part of interleague play, when Boston visited Wrigley Field (the Cubs won two of three). 

In more recent news, the Red Sox are coming into the weekend riding a six-game win streak, their longest of the still relatively young season. A three-game sweep of the Yankees, a win against the Orioles and a two-game mini-sweep of the Tigers has Boston at 23-20, and third place in the American League East. 

The Cubs (19-23) have won just four of their past 10 games. 

Friday, May 20, 7:10 p.m. (NESN, WGN)
Doug Davis (0-1, 1.80) vs Jon Lester (5-1, 3.28)

Saturday, May 21, 7:10 p.m. (FOX)
Carlos Zambrano (4-2, 4.89) vs. Alfredo Aceves (1-0, 2.60)

Sunday, May 22, 8:05 p.m. (ESPN)
Matt Garza (2-4, 3.72) vs. Tim Wakefield (0-1, 5.40)

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