The Sox are once again out to salvage a game from a disappointing series Sunday afternoon as they take on Jordan Zimmerman and the Nationals.
We'll keep you up-to-date on all the action as it goes down in Fenway Park.
Nationals 4, Red Sox 3, Final -- The Sox are angry at the umpires for some close calls, and Bobby Valentine even went and got himself ejected, but it doesn't make any difference in the final score. The Sox are swept, and fall two below .500.
Nationals 4, Red Sox 3, Mid 9th -- And right now it's looking like bust, as two-out trouble for Alfredo Aceves gives the Nationals the lead. A four-pitch walk to Bryce Harper gives them the baserunner they need, and after a few close calls go against Aceves (on missed spots), a high fastball to Roger Bernadina results in a line drive double and a run in for Washington.
Red Sox 3, Nationals 3, End 8th -- Another David Ortiz hit goes to waste, with the Sox only able to follow up his one-out single through the shift with a Will Middlebrooks walk. Headed to the ninth in a tie, it's a walkoff or bust for the Sox now.
Red Sox 3, Nationals 3, Mid 8th -- Scott Atchison comes in to relieve Jon Lester, and while Adam LaRoche makes him work for his clean inning, fighting through an eight pitch at bat, Atchison strikes him out on a heater to end the inning.
Red Sox 3, Nationals 3, End 7th -- Nick Punto puts himself back in the positive column as he and Ryan Sweeney hit back-to-back singles to start the seventh inning. A bunt from Darnell McDonald against the right-handed Zimmerman (Daniel Nava is out with a sore hand, and thus unavailable to pinch hit) proved the right decision, as Scott Podsednik grounded up the middle, allowing Sweeney to come in the back and tie the game at three-a-side.
Nationals 3, Red Sox 2, Mid 7th -- And just like that Lester gives up the lead after three really impressive innings of work. The Nationals put two men on in a hurry with singles on a ground ball and a line drive, and while the Nationals fail to get a sacrifice bunt down, the runners steal on a strikeout pitch, resulting in the same outcome. A bad bunt attempt by Roger Bernadina gets them a free out as he pops the ball in the air, but Danny Espinosa does not go down so easily, launching a long fly ball to left field that catches the bottom of the wall for a two-run double.
Red Sox 2, Nationals 1, End 6th -- The Sox go down in order in the sixth, as Jordan Zimmerman avoids the troubles of the last few innings.
Red Sox 2, Nationals 1, Mid 6th -- One wonders if that bases loaded strikeout fired Lester up, because ever since then he's been a different man on the mound. Ryan Sweeney gave him a hand in staying clean in the sixth, making a tremendous sliding catch to rob Ryan Zimmerman of extra bases in the cavernous right field corner. Perhaps thinking that the defense had already given him enough to work with, Lester then proceeded to strike out the next two batters with a cut fastball and a curve--the latter of which has been hit most consistent offering today.
Red Sox 2, Nationals 1, End 5th -- Nick Punto slows himself down by trying to slide into first, instantly undoing all of the good will gathered in the game thus far. The Sox proceed to put the next two batters on, with Scott Podsednik doubling to center and Dustin Pedroia working a walk. Unfortunately, Adrian Gonzalez' sudden resurgence has just as suddenly gone away, it seems, as he grounds out weakly to second base to end the frame.
Red Sox 2, Nationals 1, Mid 5th -- Lester may finally be finding some consistency on the mound today. Roger Bernadina goes down on strikes facing exclusively fastballs before the lefty goes back to his off-speed stuff, getting Danny Espinosa swinging at a curveball before Xavier Nady grounded out to send the game to the bottom of the fifth.
Red Sox 2, Nationals 1, End 4th -- David Ortiz has been slumping, but he seems to be seeing Jordan Zimmerman well enough. A high fastball proves costly for Jordan Zimmermann, as Big Papi turns on it sending a no doubter into the bullpen in right field and giving the Sox their first lead of the game.
Red Sox 1, Nationals 1, Mid 4th -- Ian Desmond once again gets good contact, hitting a hard liner to left for a double, but Nick Punto catches him straying too far off second on a ground ball, and another ground ball ends the inning shortly thereafter.
Red Sox 1, Nationals 1, End 3rd -- The Red Sox score a run so scrappy and covered in grit and the drool of a thousand old guard baseball writers that I almost don't want it. Jordan Zimmerman makes the inexplicable decision not to throw strikes to Nick Punto, walking the number nine batter before Scott Podsednik manages to place a bouncing ground ball perfectly for a base hit through the right side of the infield. With one out, Dustin Pedroia almost manages to ground into a double play, but gets to first in time to beat the throw, letting Punto come in the backdoor after going from first to third on Podsednik's hit.
Nationals 1, Red Sox 0, Mid 3rd -- Jon Lester gets himself into another jam, looking at times nothing like the front-line pitcher he once was. A walk and a single get two runners for the Nationals with one out, and while a curveball gets the strikeout on Xavier Nady, a double steal puts two men in scoring position.
The really scary part comes against Ryan Zimmerman, as Lester twice completely misses his spot, falling behind 2-0 before the decision is made to intentionally walk the third baseman. On the 3-0 toss home, Lester actually manages to overthrow Saltalamacchia, who has to make a leaping grab to prevent an intentional walk from becoming a wild pitch.
Still, Lester does manage, with the help of a lucky call and a great 3-2 pitch, to strike out Michael Morse, bringing the inning to an uneventful end.
Nationals 1, Red Sox 0, End 2nd -- The Red Sox get a leadoff double from David Ortiz, and then completely waste it, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Will Middlebrooks going down by way of the K before Ryan Sweeney grounded out weakly to second. Jordan Zimmerman, as was the case with the last two Nationals pitchers, has it going on.
Nationals 1, Red Sox 0, Mid 2nd -- Jon Lester has a good bounce back inning, striking out Adam LaRoche to start off a 1-2-3 frame. Still, Ian Desmond put some decent wood on the ball--not a great sign given that was Lester's problem in the first.
Nationals 1, Red Sox 0, End 1st -- Dustin Pedroia finally gets good contact, singling through the left side of the infield to give the Sox their first baserunner of the game, but Adrian Gonzalez quickly grounds into a double play behind him, leaving the Red Sox unable to respond in the bottom half of the inning.
Nationals 1, Red Sox 0, Mid 1st -- Not an encouraging start for Jon Lester, as Danny Espinosa and Xavier Nady both make hard contact for line drives to the outfield.
Luckily for Lester, only the first one goes for a hit--a double to center--but with Nady's getting far enough for a sacrifice fly and Espinosa breaking for home on contact, the Nationals were able to jump ahead 1-0 in the first.