BOSTON -- The losing streak ends at three, which was the natural order of things last season, when the Boston Red Sox never lost more than three games in a row for an entire season for the first time since 1903.
The result: Scoring three runs in the eighth inning while a light rain fell, the Red Sox broke open a close game and defeated the Texas Rangers 5-1 before a crowd of 35,842 at Fenway Park.
All the way for JBJ: A big night for rookie Jackie Bradley Jr., who knocked in the first two Boston runs with line-drive singles, one to center, one to right, and laid down a perfect bunt single that led to a third run in the eighth when first baseman Prince Fielder threw it away.
Bradley also made two outstanding catches, one a backhanded, sliding grab in the second of a line drive by Donnie Murphy that he may have lost in the lights, the other a sprinting catch with outstretched glove of J.P. Arencibia’s drive into the right-field corner.
Lockdown Lackey: John Lackey went seven innings, allowing five hits and an unearned run, to register his second win in two starts. Lackey and Jon Lester have given the Sox two quality starts apiece in their first two outings. Jake Peavy, who goes Wednesday, also had a quality start in his first outing, giving the Sox staff five quality starts in seven games.
Lackey’s best work came in the seventh, when he refused to give in to Alex Rios and walked him on a full count to open the inning, his first walk of the game. Lackey did not hold Rios close and with a huge jump Rios stole second easily, putting the tying run in scoring position with no out. Mitch Moreland’s ground ball to the right side sent Rios to third, but he advanced no farther, as Murphy popped out and after another walk and stolen base (Leonys Martin), Lackey induced Arencibia to ground out to second.
Lackey, who touched 95 mph in the second inning according to the Fenway radar readings, threw 95 pitches, 65 for strikes. He went 90/68 in six innings in his first start in Baltimore.
Kickstart from Nava: Daniel Nava, who batted leadoff for the fifth time, reached base when he was hit by a pitch in the first and walked in the second, then ended a 1-for-15 slide on this homestand with an RBI single in the eighth. Nava also made his second error in two games, booting a hit in left field after doing the same in right on Sunday.
Active A.J.: Catcher A.J. Pierzynski had three hits, one more than he had in his first five games combined, and figured in the first two scoring rallies. His hit-and-run single in the second set up Boston’s first run, and he hit the first of three Sox singles in the fourth and scored the second run. Mike Napoli also had three hits.
Grady wallbanger: Center fielder Grady Sizemore went face first into the center-field padding after missing on his bid to catch Shin-Soo Choo’s triple in the third inning, but did not require medical attention. He grounded into a double play in the bottom of the third, but made a nice diving catch of Moreland’s liner in the fourth, which saved at least a run, and singled and doubled in his next two at-bats.
Capuano copes: Long-time starter Chris Capuano mentioned the other day that switching to relief was no easy thing, but so far he has made it look that way. Capuano made it three straight scoreless appearances, giving up a leadoff single to Choo before retiring Elvis Andrus on a liner and Fielder on an inning-ending double play.
Nothing royal about this: Tough start this season for Fielder, who was 0-for-4 to drop his average to .143 (4-for-28) and made hash of Bradley’s bunt.
Quiet Papi: David Ortiz went hitless in five at-bats. He went 0-for-5 five times last season.
Koji bends but doesn't crack: Koji Uehara, who had allowed just a hit in three scoreless appearances, gave up a two-out single to Moreland and a double to Murphy with two outs in the ninth, but struck out Martin to end it.