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Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Red Sox 2, Padres 1

By Scott Barboza



BOSTON -- Coming off a rather arduous month of June, Jon Lester’s July didn’t start much better. But if Wednesday night was a preview to the southpaw’s second half, the Red Sox will be in fine shape.

Despite a 32-pitch first inning, Lester turned in seven innings in a no-decision in the Red Sox’ 2-1 walk-off win.

Jonny Gomes, pinch-hitting to lead off the ninth, again provided the dramatics with his second walk-off home run of the season (fourth of his career) off Padres reliever Luke Gregerson.

After allowing three hits in the first (all coming with two outs), Lester surrendered just three more on the night, while striking out five and walking one.

The Padres assembled a string of three base hits with two outs and pushed across a run on Kyle Blanks’ RBI single up the middle to start the game. But Lester followed with a five-pitch second and settled in, retiring 18 of the final 22 hitters he faced, including a string of three straight innings in which he retired the side in order (innings 5-7).

Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara (2-0) got the final six outs in relief, with Tazawa striking out the side in the eighth.

MIDDLE OF NOWHERE
With Mike Napoli given the night off, the middle of the Red Sox order lacked punch, particularly in a couple of key situations.

Daniel Nava slotted into Napoli’s customary fifth slot in the order. In the third inning with runners on second and third and two out, and the Red Sox trailing 1-0, David Ortiz was intentionally walked by Edinson Volquez in favor of the matchup against Nava. Volquez got Nava to ground into a 6-3 putout.

The Red Sox went on to tie the score in the fourth when Jarrod Saltalamacchia drove in Mike Carp on a wall-scraping double to left.

A similar set of circumstances played out again in the eighth with a tie game.

Ortiz again received the first-class treatment in the eighth, when he was issued his second intentional walk after Dustin Pedroia’s lead-off double. After a pitching change, Gregerson entered the game to shut down Nava for the second time with two men on, retiring him with a three-pitch strikeout, the final one an 84 mile-per-hour slider.

Gregerson maintained the stalemate, forcing Carp to fly to center before striking out Saltalamacchia with another biting slider.

The Red Sox were 1-for-13 on the game with runners in scoring position and left nine on base before Gomes’ walk-off home run.