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Friday, July 23, 2010
Win eases pain of blown lead

By Joe McDonald
ESPNBoston.com

SEATTLE -- The postgame celebratory music selection by the Boston Red Sox following Thursday's victory over the Seattle Mariners was an interesting choice.

As the door to the visitors clubhouse opened after the Sox's 8-6 victory at Safeco Field, The Jackson 5's "ABC" was blaring from the speakers.

Mike Cameron and Kevin Youkilis
Kevin Youkilis and Mike Cameron scored in the 13th inning on Eric Patterson's hit, giving Boston the winning margin.

"You hear the music playing, so that's good," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "That's a tough way to win, but we did."

The way the Red Sox won was not as easy as A-B-C or 1-2-3 because this game easily could have been the worst loss of the season before it turned into an emotional extra-innings victory.

This game included almost everything possible, from a thrilling pitching performance by Boston starter John Lackey to an excruciating implosion by Boston's bullpen, before Eric Patterson's two-out, two-run double in the top of the 13th proved to be the game-winning hit to beat the Mariners.

"Sometimes this game will do that to you," said Francona. "You're up. You're down. You need to find a way to win, and we did."

Lackey was four outs from completing a no-hitter before he surrendered a hit to former Red Sox catcher and current Mariner Josh Bard with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Lackey said he tried to jam Bard, who hit a clean single to right-center.

"I threw it where I wanted it to be," said Lackey.

His night was done after that inning. He allowed one unearned run on two hits with one walk and six strikeouts but did not factor into the decision after the bullpen blew a five-run lead in the ninth.

"You think about [a no-hitter] a little bit because you obviously know what's going on, but it's not something that you're focused on. You just want to win the game," Lackey said. "We won the game and that makes things a lot better, for sure. It's definitely one of the weirdest no-decisions that I've had."

As Francona and the rest of the team watched Lackey's performance unfold, everyone thought he had the stuff to record a no-hitter.

"He was good all night and you could tell he was smelling it a little bit," Francona said. "He was pounding the zone and his stuff was crisp. That was a very impressive performance."

Lackey finished with 116 pitches (80 for strikes) before being removed after the eighth. The most he's thrown this season is 124 pitches.

The Red Sox entered the bottom of the ninth inning with a 6-1 lead when Francona summoned reliever Manny Delcarmen from the bullpen.

The right-hander faced only four batters and allowed four runs (three earned) on two hits, including a two-run homer, before he was given the hook. Jonathan Papelbon came in and allowed the game-tying run on one hit.

"I [expletive] sucked," Delcarmen said. "I left some pitches right down the middle and they hit it. What got me mad the most was Lackey almost had a no-hitter and definitely deserved the win. Pap came in and tried to pick me up. I'm glad we got the win, but I wish Lackey got the win."

The Sox also made a pair of errors in the ninth that helped the Mariners tie it at 6-6.

"We obviously made some mistakes to let those guys back in the ballgame," said Sox second baseman Bill Hall, who made a costly throwing error. "They tied it up because we were sloppy defensively at the wrong time. These are big games and it just gives us confidence when we win like that. We made mistakes, but were able to come out on top. These are the things that can turn things around for you."

Fortunately for the Red Sox, lefty reliever Hideki Okajima worked two scoreless innings and pitched out of a bases-loaded jam with one out in the bottom of the 12th inning. He eventually earned the win.

Red Sox utility man Eric Patterson proved to be the hero with his two-out, two-run double in the top of the 13th inning. He wasn't in the starting lineup and served as a pinch-hitter in the top of the 11th.

"You never know. You always come to the park ready to play," Patterson said. "When they call your name you just prepare yourself the best you can and do whatever you're asked to do. I came up in the 11th and didn't have a good at-bat, but was able to come up with the big hit in the 13th."

Sox righty reliever Ramon Ramirez retired the side in order in the bottom of the 13th to earn the save, and Boston finally had a much-needed win after 3 hours and 57 minutes.

"It was a long night, but I would rather hear the music play than not," Francona said. "It's a lot easier to talk about things not going right, or not going perfect, when you win."

Joe McDonald covers the Bruins and Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.