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BOSTON (AP) – John Lackey retired 15 straight batters after a shaky start, Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz had three hits each and the Boston Red Sox won for the 12th time in 13 games with a 10-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night.
Tied at 4 in the fifth inning, the Red Sox went ahead to stay on Gonzalez’s leadoff homer. They added two runs in the sixth and three in the seventh.
Boston increased its AL East lead to 2 1/2 games over the New York Yankees, who lost 3-1 to the Chicago Cubs. Milwaukee’s lead in the NL Central was cut to a half game over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Lackey (5-5) improved to 3-0 since coming off the disabled list. He gave up four runs before getting an out in the third. Then second baseman Dustin Pedroia started a double play, starting Lackey’s hitless streak that ended when Nyjer Morgan singled in the eighth.
Morgan was doubled off first on a throw by center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who had raced in to make a catch in short center field.
Matt Albers pitched the ninth after Lackey allowed four runs and eight hits in eight innings.
The Red Sox’s potent offense resurfaced after they scored just seven runs in a three-game series at Tampa Bay, although they won two of them. During their nine-game winning streak going into that series, they averaged 9.2 runs.
The Brewers lost for the fourth time in five games.
But the victory may have been costly for the Red Sox, who lost two starters. Left fielder Carl Crawford departed after hurting his left hamstring while beating out an infield single in the first. Third baseman Kevin Youkilis, who was feeling ill, was replaced by Drew Sutton in the top of the fifth.
Two other Red Sox players left Thursday night’s 4-2 win at Tampa Bay — starter Clay Buchholz with back problems and shortstop Jed Lowrie with a shoulder injury.
The Brewers scored two runs in the first on a single by Morgan, a double by Prince Fielder and a two-run single by Casey McGehee.
The Red Sox tied it in the bottom of that inning on a leadoff homer by Ellsbury, a single by Gonzalez and an RBI double by Ortiz off Shaun Marcum.
Marcum left the game after the first with a strained left hip flexor and was replaced by Marco Estrada (1-4).
Boston went ahead 4-2 in the second on a walk to Pedroia, a double by Gonzalez and a two-run single by Youkilis.
Milwaukee tied it in the third. Lackey allowed singles to the first four batters — Rickie Weeks, Morgan, Ryan Braun and Fielder — for one run. Then Pedroia made an outstanding stop on a hard-hit grounder by McGehee to start a double play. Morgan scored the tying run, but Pedroia’s one-handed stab going to his left staved off a much bigger inning.
Notes: Ellsbury’s homer was his second of the season and fifth of his career when leading off the first inning for Boston. … The first inning lasted 43 minutes. Marcum threw 44 pitches and Lackey 25. … Braun extended his hitting streak to 10 games with his single in the third. … The Brewers lost for the 11th time in their last 12 games at Fenway Park. … Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon had his suspension for making contact with an umpire reduced by major league baseball from three games to two. He was ejected after the incident with plate umpire Tony Randazzo on June 4 at Fenway against Oakland. … Boston manager Terry Francona held his pregame press conference while wearing a Bruins jersey with Marc Savard’s No. 91 on the back. “This is what you would call genuine front running,” Francona said. The Bruins won the Stanley Cup on Wednesday night, although Savard missed much of the season and the entire playoffs following a concussion.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)