Rapid reaction: Red Sox 7, Cubs 4

June, 17, 2012
6/17/12
11:27
PM ET
CHICAGO -- We interrupt the Yankees' nine-game winning streak to inform you that the Red Sox managed to take two out of three from the worst team in baseball, the Chicago Cubs.

It wasn't easy. After being shut out in the series opener Friday, the Sox squeezed out a one-run victory on Saturday and then took the rubber game, 7-4, Sunday night before 38,531 in Wrigley Field, but not before frittering away a deserving win for emergency starter Franklin Morales.

The left-hander, pressed into service because of a shoulder injury that Josh Beckett has so far been unwilling to discuss publicly, struck out nine batters in five innings, throwing a remarkable 65 strikes out of 80 pitches, and left with a 3-2 lead. One of those Cubs runs was tainted, however: Dustin Pedroia dropped Starlin Castro's two-out popup in the third, but it was inexplicably ruled an RBI double.

The Sox defense turned comically inept in the sixth, when Matt Albers relieved and the Cubs tied the score. Third baseman Kevin Youkilis botched a routine bouncer for an error to open the inning. Castro then hit a dribbler in front of the plate that neither Albers nor catcher Kelly Shoppach could field, Shoppach slipping and falling. Alfonso Soriano tapped into a force play and Jeff Baker followed with a comebacker that should have been an inning-ending double play.

But Pedroia and Mike Aviles crossed signals on who was covering the bag, Aviles was charged with the second error of the inning, and the tying run scored.

The Cubs' defense, however, returned the favor, as the Sox took advantage of some Chicago sloppiness to score three in the seventh and another in the eighth.

Darnell McDonald doubled to open the seventh and took third on a single by pinch-hitter Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who moved up a base when first baseman Baker bobbled the throw in from the infield when Saltalamacchia would have been easy pickings. Ryan Kalish, promoted Sunday when Ryan Sweeney went on the disabled list, blooped an RBI single to center to score a run, and Saltalamacchia took third. Another pinch-hitter, Will Middlebrooks, hit a sacrifice fly to make it 5-3, and Kalish sped to third when catcher Wellington Castillo threw the ball into center field.

Kalish then charged home on a suicide squeeze perfectly executed by Daniel Nava, who was playing only because starting left fielder Scott Podsednik had departed with a strained groin.

The Sox added another run in the eighth, Castros' error helping the rally along, and looked ready to board a plane to Logan Airport without further incident. Closer Alfredo Aceves, however, had other ideas. He gave up three straight singles to load the bases, then a long sacrifice fly to center field by David DeJesus that made it 7-4.

Aceves recovered to strike out Reed Johnson on three pitches, the last a wicked curveball, before Darwin Barney popped out to end it.

The Sox thus won the Theo Games, 2 games to 1, and, as an added bonus, Terry Francona was here with the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball crew and visited with his former boss before the game.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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