Jason Hammel came in looking for his first win since the end of May, but he didn't get it. He struggled in the first, throwing 27 pitches and giving up a run, and ended up walking five and giving up six hits in 5.1 IP.
He stayed low to Jacoby Ellsbury to start the game and got him to ground out. He also stayed low to Shane Victorino but ended up walking him, with balls 3 and 4 coming on pitches that looked good. But as the announcers noted, at least Hammel was missing low most of the time. Pedroia battled for eight pitches, looking silly on a couple, but blasted a 3-2 fastball over Adam Jones's head. Luckily, Jones made the catch over his shoulder while running into the wall, saving a sure run as Victorino was running on the pitch.
David Ortiz then came up to jeers at the plate but singled through the shift to put Victorino on third. Hammel still hadn't thrown a first-pitch strike. He didn't to Mike Napoli, who drilled a 2-0 fastball past Nick Markakis for a run-scoring double. 1-0 Sox. Pitching coach Rick Adair came out to chat with Hammel, who at least managed to strike out Mike Carp.
Jon Lester took the hill and didn't look much better than Hammel. He immediately went 3-0 on Nick Markakis before throwing a strike and getting Nick to swing and miss for strike two. He ended up singling up the middle and advanced to second on a groundout by Manny Machado. Chris Davis worked the count to 2-2 before striking out on a fastball outside. Jones came up with the RBI chance. He made it interesting, battling Lester for seven pitches before striking out.
Hammel mixed up his pitches more in the second and it paid off. He froze Jarrod Saltalamacchia with a 1-1 curveball for strike two, got a foul ball on a low fastball, then got Salty to ground out to first on another curveball. He used his change-up and curveball to strike out Stephen Drew. He got a few good strike calls on Jose Iglesias to make it 1-2 before getting him to ground out to Machado, who needed a fine pick-spin-throw move to catch the speedy runner. Unfortunately, the O's went groundout-strikeout-groundout in the bottom half.
Ellsbury started the top of the third with a leadoff single on a fastball below the knees. Victorino popped out to Machado and Pedroia flew out to center again (albeit much less dramatically this time). Ortiz looked at two fastballs outside before crushing a hanging breaking ball to left-center for his 20th home run of the year. 3-0 Sox. As he rounded the bases he responded to the jeers by holding a finger to his lips. Then, as Carp did in the first, Napoli K'd to end the inning. For the O's part, L.J. Hoes struck out on a questionable checked-swing call, Taylor Teagarden made solid contact but flew out to right, and Markakis skittered a ground ball to Napoli. Nine pitches and it was nine in a row for Lester.
Both Hammel and Lester (hmm … that sounds way too close to "Hannibal Lecter" … anyway) worked in and out of jams in the fourth, fifth, and sixth. Each pitcher allowed a few hits and walks, but thanks to double plays by both sides, no runners crossed the plate. T.J. McFarland replaced Jason Hammel with one out and a runner on second in the sixth but got Stephen Drew to line into a 4-6 double play. But in the bottom half, with two on and no outs, Matt Wieters struck out and J.J. Hardy GIDP'd to kill the rally.
The seventh inning was cleaner, with both sides going down in order. What was particularly frustrating to me, though, was that despite Lester sitting at 93 pitches to start the seventh, Roberts, Hoes, and Teagarden saw just six pitches combined. The eighth inning, however, turned uglier for the O's. With one out and Ortiz on first, Napoli doubled, putting runners on second and first. Buck elected to walk pinch-hitter Jonny Gomes intentionally, which backfired when Salty punched a first-pitch single into right field, scoring both Ortiz and Napoli. 5-0 Sox, and the score stayed that way through the end.
Chris Davis had an ugly day, 0-4 with a hat trick. I'm trying really hard to not compare him to Josh Hamilton. Nick Markakis and Adam Jones, though, did well. They each had two hits, and Markakis walked for good measure. Matt Wieters also did okay; he didn't have a hit and he helped kill the rally in the 6th, but he did see a lot of pitches.
The game seals the second series loss in a row for the O's and drops them to 58-48, third place in the division. The Red Sox float back to first place at 63-43, half a game ahead of Tampa Bay (who lost today). Next up for the O's is the lowly Astros; hopefully the Birds can right the ship with a sweep or at least a series victory.