The Red Sox are in search of their fourth straight series win Sunday afternoon as they send Aaron Cook to the mound against Mike Minor and the Atlanta Braves.
We'll keep you up-to-date on all the action as it goes down in Fenway Park.
Red Sox 9, Braves 4, End 8th -- Nothing doing in the eighth, as Darnell McDonald's single is erased by Daniel Nava's double play, but with a five-run lead the Sox won't sweat it headed to the ninth.
Red Sox 9, Braves 4, Mid 8th -- Scott Atchison makes very quick work of the braves in the eighth, sitting down Jason Heyward with a slider over the outside part of the plate to end the 1-2-3 inning.
Red Sox 9, Braves 4, End 7th -- Kevin Youkilis may have just had his farewell moment at Fenway Park. After a two-out bloop single from Adrian Gonzalez, Youkilis hit a long fly ball to right-center, and with neither outfielder fully committing, the ball fell in, allowing Gonzalez to score and Youkilis to reach third. With Bobby Valentine calling for a pinch runner in Nick Punto, Youkilis left the field to a long standing ovation, tipping his cap and, after what looked like a farewell in the dugout, came back for a final curtain call before heading to the clubhouse. No word on a trade yet, but if that's his last moment, it was just about perfect.
Red Sox 8, Braves 4, Mid 7th -- In the first scoreless half-inning since the top of the fourth, Andrew Miller works around a pair of singles by getting Michael Bourn to swing over a slider down-and-away and then inducing a pop fly off the bat of Brian McCann to end the frame.
Red Sox 8, Braves 4, End 6th -- And once again, the Sox match the Braves perfectly in the bottom half of the inning to pull back to a four-run lead. This time it's the work of Kelly Shoppach, who singles solidly up the middle, and Daniel Nava, who plants a double high off the Monster, just missing a homer but doing enough to get Shoppach home with two outs.
Red Sox 7, Braves 4, Mid 6th -- One bad pitch troubles Matt Albers in the sixth, as he gives up a homer to Jason Heyward nearly identical to Ross' first, dropping just barely into the Monster seats in left field to bring the Braves slightly closer.
Red Sox 7, Braves 3, End 5th -- And just as quickly the Sox undo all the damage from the top half of the fifth. This time, the greater part of the damage is not his fault, as Kelly Shoppach reaches first when Andrelton Simmons air mails a throw well over Freddi Freeman's head and into the Boston dugout. Daniel Nava follows him onto the basepaths with a bloop single, and while Dustin Pedroia can't get Shoppach in from third, Will Middlebrooks hits one deep enough for the sacrifice fly behind him.
That proves to not matter much, however, as Cody Ross proves he's having one of his days. A flat curveball is dangerous to anyone, but to a dead pull hitter like Ross, coming from a lefty, it's a gimme. Ross hits the ball well over the Triple-A sign on the Monster and all the way out of Fenway for a two-run shot that makes it a 4-run lead once again.
Red Sox 4, Braves 3, Mid 5th -- The Sox' lead is almost instantly cut to one in the fifth, as a combination of bad luck, bad pitching, and bad defense--all on the part of Aaron Cook--costs them three.
The bad luck comes with the first two at bats, which see a pair of ground balls go for hits. The first comes on a broken bat and doesn't even make it to the infield dirt, but it takes long enough for Dustin Pedroia to get to it that Jason Heyward is able to reach first. The second is a basic seeing-eye single placed perfectly to get through the right side of the infield.
With two on and no out, Cook gives up his bad pitch, and is treated to a long fly ball from Erik Hinske that nearly gets out into the stands near the triangle. Instead it ricochets off the wall, and allows Hinske to reach third with both runs scoring. Frankly, though, it would have been just as well if the ball had gotten out, as after he snags a come-backer, Cook proceeds to throw the ball away trying to catch a wandering Hinske,letting the third run come in. Thankfully, Cook manages to keep the lead from there, with three more ground balls finding gloves and ending the frame.
Red Sox 4, Brave 0, End 4th -- And the Red Sox finally make Mike Minor look like Mike Minor. Both Dustin Pedroia and Will Middlebrooks are content to watch Minor throw them balls to lead off the inning with a pair of walks. Up comes Cody Ross, whose solid return has been overshadowed a bit by the likes of Middlebrooks and Nava, and reminds fans why he was missed, jacking a high fly ball to left field that drops just barely into and out of the Monster seats for a three-run shot.
Two pitches later, and the excitement from grabbing the lead is ratcheted up a notch as the long wait for Adrian Gonzalez to break out of his power slump comes to an end--at least for now. Getting an outside fastball, Gonzalez turned to the swing that's served him so well in recent years and even picked up a couple of hits yesterday, lifting a high fly ball of his own down the left field line and into the Monster seats to give the Sox back-to-back shots and a 4-0 lead.
Red Sox 0, Braves 0, Mid 4th -- Ross enjoys his first completely clean inning in the fourth, with a fly ball to shallow right the hardest hit ball allowed. This is much closer to what the Sox were hoping for when they got him than his first start. Just goes to show you what a healthy knee can do.
Red Sox 0, Braves 0, End 3rd -- This game is starting to look a lot like Friday's. Up against a pitcher with terrible numbers in Mike Minor, the Sox have done absolutely nothing to him. A long fly ball from Kelly Shoppach is all they can lay claim to in this inning, but it dies on the track for Michael Bourn to make the easy grab, and Daniel Nava strikes out swinging weakly at a bad pitch to end the frame.
Red Sox 0, Braves 0, Mid 3rd -- Leadoff trouble for Aaron Cook does not end in any runs for the Braves, thanks at least in part to a controversial call on a low line drive to Kevin Youkilis. After a leadoff double and a ground out, Youkilis had to drop his glove flat to the ground to make the grab on Michael Bourn's hard hit ball. Youkilis had the ball knock off the heel of his glove, but at least in his mind not out of the fingers, leaving Bourn out even without a throw to first. Initially the third base umpire--who had his view largely blocked by Youkilis--disagreed. But after some consultation, Bourn was called out, and one ground ball later Cook was out of the inning.
Red Sox 0, Braves 0, End 2nd -- With the fans giving him a long standing ovation, Kevin Youkilis just had to get a hit in his first at bat in three days. While it wasn't the most solid of knocks--a ground ball back to the mound which Mike Minor deflected towards second base and couldn't chase down in time--he was at first all the same. Unfortunately, Mike Aviles quickly struck out behind him, leaving the Sox without anything to show for it.
Red Sox 0, Braves 0, Mid 2nd -- There is some cause for concern despite two scoreless innings from Aaron Cook. Between a loud fly ball to left field and a two-out double from Jason Heyward, there's been some mediocre Sinkers thrown so far today. Two more ground balls, however, are still enough to get the Sox out of the inning without damage.
Red Sox 0, Braves 0, End 1st -- Mike Minor has a very similar inning to Aaron Cook in the first. While the fly ball he induces leads off the inning, and comes a lot closer to being damaging as Daniel Nava drove it towards the track in dead center, Michael Bourn gets underneath it and makes the grab in the sun none-the-less. Dustin Pedroia matches Michael Bourn's single by slapping a base hit into left field, but then just like Cook, Minor gets the ground ball for a double play off the bat of Will Middlebrooks.
Red Sox 0, Braves 0, Mid 1st -- Aaron Cook is off to a very Aaron Cook start in Fenway Park. Michael Burn again proves a distraction to the Red Sox early in the first, as he hits a ground ball single and then draws Aaron Cook's attention over to first base for much of the ensuing at bat against Martin Prado. Bourn doesn't take off until the pitch Prado puts in play, however, and has to head back to first on a lazy fly ball. That keeps him in position for Cook to do what he does best: get a double play. Throwing five straight sinkers to Brian McCann, Cook got the ground ball he wanted and picked up the easy twin killing.