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Red Sox clinch playoff berth; Lackey two-hits Orioles

CBSSports.com wire reports
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BOSTON -- The Red Sox clubhouse was quiet after the team clinched its first postseason berth since 2009, about as quiet as the Orioles' bats were against John Lackey.

Boston has much bigger goals.

Lackey pitched a two-hit complete game, Stephen Drew hit a two-run homer and the Red Sox beat Baltimore 3-1 on Thursday night to complete an impressive turnaround from last season's last place-finish.

The victory ensured Boston at least a wild-card berth and lowered its magic number to one for clinching the AL East. A year ago, under Bobby Valentine, the Red Sox finished 69-93 record -- their worst since 1965.

"We've still got some other goals ahead of us," Lackey said. "Hopefully, here in the next night or two we can get a party going."

Earlier in the day, the Los Angeles Dodgers became the first team to earn a playoff berth when they clinched the NL West.

Just before Adam Jones' game-ending flyout to right, the crowd chanted, "Lackey! Lackey!" And after Daniel Nava caught the ball, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia embraced Lackey in front of the mound as Red Sox players came out of the dugout and lined up for their usual, low-key postgame handshakes.

"The next step is a more important one than this," said manager John Farrell, who has led Boston's turnaround after one disastrous year under Bobby Valentine. "Winning the East, that's been the stated goal since day one of spring training. That's getting closer and I think that will probably be a little bit more the realization of where we've come from and where we are at that moment."

Lackey's resurgence has been just as remarkable.

He had a 6.41 ERA in 2011 while pitching with arm trouble, then missed all last season following ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow. He's only 10-12 this season but has had the least run support among Boston starters. On Thursday, he lowered his ERA to 3.44.

"The remake of John Lackey, both physically and getting back on the mound and performing as he's done all year, mirrors that of this team," Farrell said. "It's somewhat fitting that to clinch a spot to get into the playoffs is with him on the mound and to go nine innings the way he did, like I said, very fitting."

Lackey held the Orioles hitless until Jones hit a home run with one out in the seventh, his 32nd this season. The right-hander allowed a one-out single to J.J. Hardy in the eighth, struck out eight and walked two in his 16th career complete game.

"There's definitely some satisfaction for sure," he said, "Just with the injury and other stuff, to get back to the playoffs and get back to the way I can pitch has been fun."

Baltimore is two games behind in the AL wild-card race after winning two of the three games in the series.

"Who cares about this getting two out of three?" Jones said. "At this point in time, winning the series means nothing. We need wins. 'Good job getting the series' if this was June, but it's September. We need wins."

Chris Tillman (16-7) gave up three runs and seven hits in seven innings with eight strikeouts and two walks.

"That's the way these games go at the end of the season," he said. "You've got to be on top of it from the get-go all the way through. I made some mistakes and they made me pay."

Boston scored all its runs in the second on Drew's home run, his 13th of the year, and Dustin Pedroia's RBI single.

The Red Sox have led the AL East since after play on Aug. 25 and entered Thursday having topped the AL East in 46 of the previous 49 days.

Lackey made it 47 out of 50.

"As far as fastball command, keeping the ball down in the zone throughout the game, yeah, that was probably his best game" of the year, Saltalamacchia said.

Notes

Pedroia extended his hitting streak to nine games. ... Baltimore opens a four-game series on Friday at Tampa Bay with Jason Hammel (7-8) pitching for the Orioles against David Price (8-8). ... The Red Sox will send Jon Lester (14-8) to the mound against Esmil Rogers (5-7) in the opener of their last home series of the regular season, three games against Toronto.

 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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David Ortiz leads the welcoming committee for Stephen Drew after his two-run roundtripper in the second inning.  (USATSI)
David Ortiz leads the welcoming committee for Stephen Drew after his two-run roundtripper in the second inning. (USATSI)

Players of the Game
Boston

J. Lackey
IP 9.0
H 2
ER 1
BB 2
K 8
Boston

S. Drew
AB 3
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
 
Baltimore Orioles
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Nate McLouth, LF3000102 .262
Manny Machado, 3B4000001 .285
Chris Davis, 1B4000020 .290
Adam Jones, CF4111010 .289
Nick Markakis, RF3000020 .271
Danny Valencia, DH3000010 .316
Matt Wieters, C3000010 .229
J.J. Hardy, SS3010010 .263
Brian Roberts, 2B2000101 .240
Chris Tillman, P0000000 .000
   Darren O'Day, P0000000 .000
   Brian Matusz, P0000000 .000
Totals2912128  
Batting
HR - Adam Jones (32, Lackey)
RBI - Adam Jones (103)
Team LOB - 3
Baltimore Orioles
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Chris Tillman (L,16-7) 7733281 3.70
Darren O'Day 0.1000000 2.26
Brian Matusz 0.2000010 3.35
Pitches-Strikes - Chris Tillman 109-75, Darren O'Day 1-1, Brian Matusz 5-4
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Chris Tillman 5-8, Darren O'Day 1-0, Brian Matusz 1-0
Batters Faced - Chris Tillman 30, Darren O'Day 1, Brian Matusz 2
Boston Red Sox
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Dustin Pedroia, 2B4021001 .299
Daniel Nava, RF3000112 .298
David Ortiz, DH3000112 .307
Mike Napoli, 1B4000024 .258
Mike Carp, LF3000002 .302
   a-Jonny Gomes, PH-LF1000010 .238
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C4110010 .264
Will Middlebrooks, 3B3000011 .236
Stephen Drew, SS3122010 .248
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF3120011 .171
John Lackey, P0000000 .000
Totals3137329  
a-struck out for Carp in the 8th
Batting
2B - Dustin Pedroia (41, Tillman), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (37, Tillman), Jackie Bradley Jr. (5, Tillman)
3B - Stephen Drew (7, Tillman)
HR - Stephen Drew (13, Tillman)
RBI - Dustin Pedroia (82), Stephen Drew 2 (64)
Team LOB - 6
Boston Red Sox
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
John Lackey (W,10-12) 9211281 3.44
Pitches-Strikes - John Lackey 113-82
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - John Lackey 10-9
Batters Faced - John Lackey 31
Game Information
Attendance - 36436
Game Time - 2:18
Temperature - 69
Umpires - Home - Mark Wegner, First Base - Tim Timmons, Second Base - Mike Winters, Third Base - Laz Diaz