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Red Sox Vs. Rays: Red Sox Make Up For Early Mistakes, Lead 6-3

The Red Sox have a 6-3 lead over the Tampa Bay Rays through four innings having mounted a consistent scoring effort against James Shields.

After stranding a pair of baserunners in the first, things went quickly south for the Red Sox in the bottom of the inning. Really, though, the fault did not lie with John Lackey as one might expect, but Marco Scutaro.

The issues for the shortstop started quickly, when he ended up with an error on the first play of the game, sending a wide throw to Adrian Gonzalez that pulled him off the bag. The next batter sent a ball up the middle for a hit, as did Casey Kotchman, though this time the ball bounced off the heel of a sliding Scutaro’s glove on a play he really has to make. Three ground balls, two bad plays, one run, and zero outs.

And it wasn’t over.

Evan Longoria provided the first out of the inning on yet another ground ball, but even that one didn’t go off without a hitch. What should have been a double play resulted in just the one out as Scutaro made another ugly play, sending a short flip to Pedroia at second wide of the mark and forcing him to sprawl out for it. From there, a ground ball to right and a flair to left—the only well-hit ball of the inning—put the Sox behind 3-0 early.

The Sox went right to work taking care of that deficit in the second, however. Jarrod Saltalamacchia drew a five pitch walk, and up came one of the hottest hitters in the game: Josh Reddick. After taking the first three pitches for balls, Reddick took a strike, fouled off a pitch, and then just barely made contact for a foul tip. What could have been a strikeout, however, became something else entirely. Shoppach couldn’t hold on to the foul tip, and Reddick did not take waste his second chance, crushing an absolute bomb to right for the Sox’ first two runs in the game.

Lackey escaped a bases loaded situation in the bottom of the second with a timely double play to set the Sox up to take the lead in the third. They did not disappoint. Adrian Gonzalez walked and Kevin Youkilis singled to start the inning before David Ortiz and J.D. Drew hit back-to-back doubles to score three more runs, putting the Sox up 5-3. Jacoby Ellsbury added another in the fourth, leading off the frame with his thirteenth homer of the year to make it 6-3.

Meanwhile, John Lackey has turned it on in a big way, picking up five strikeouts between the third and fourth innings while allowing just a pair of hits. After a really bad second inning that didn’t end up hurting him, Lackey seems to finally be back to doing what he did last time against the Orioles.