It was a frustrating night for Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield. Despite facing a Houston offense with almost no experience against his knuckleball, Wakefield had no success keeping ther bats off the ball. The Astros kept up a steady stream of hitting against Boston, picking up 11 in just over five innings against the knuckleballer, and scoring in the first, second, fifth, and sixth innings to build their lead to 5-1.
For most of the game, Bud Norris was fairing rather better. In fact, were it not for the beginning and the end, Norris could look at this start as one of his best. After giving up a leadoff homer to Marco Scutaro, Norris kept the Sox off the board through until the seventh inning, striking out 10 men along the way to keep Boston from taking advantage of any of the free passes he allowed.
With the Sox having made some quick outs in the fifth and sixth innings, Bud Norris came back out in the seventh to spare Brad Mills from having to turn to his unreliable bullpen. That’s when things fell apart.
The rally started with a ground ball up the middle from J.D. Drew, and continued on a flair off Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s bat that fell in for a hit. With Bud Norris reeling, Josh Reddick sent him off for the night with a double laced down the line in left, scoring the first Boston run since the first at bat of the game.
In came the bullpen, and away went the lead. Drew Sutton smashed a ground ball at shortstop Clint Barmes, who couldn’t come up with the ball after a tough hop. Darnell McDonald, pinch hitting for Dan Wheeler, took a wild curveball off the foot to load the bases.
With Marco Scutaro failing to put the ball in play, Dustin Pedroia came to the plate with the bases loaded and one out. On the fourth pitch of his at bat, Pedroia took a strike low-and-away, having some heated words with the umpire over the call. On the fifth, he fired a ground ball past the diving first baseman and into left field, turning to shout back at the umpire as the tying runs scored. Said tie was quickly broken when Adrian Gonzalez doubled off the wall in left-center, bringing home two more runs and giving the Sox a 7-5 lead.
The Red Sox’ bullpen performed rather better than Houston’s. Though Boston would leave the bases loaded in both the eighth and ninth innings, a combination of Matt Albers, Franklin Morales, Daniel Bard, and Jonathan Papelbon closed out the game in relatively painless fashion to give the Sox their first back-to-back wins in almost two weeks.