Final, 6-5 Red Sox: A couple of pinch hitters (Hardy, Wieters) couldn’t reach base against Aceves, who induced a ground out to second base to record his 11th save of the season.
The win puts the Sox back at .500, and they’ll have a day off before they get a chance to climb above .500 for the first time of the season on Friday night at home against the Rays.
Middle 9th, 6-5 Red Sox: Sox hitters can’t muster anything in the ninth, and Aceves is back out to finish the job for the bottom of the inning.
Ryan Flaherty, Luis Exposito and Xavier Avery are due up for the O’s.
End 8th, 6-5 Red Sox: Aceves gets the first part of his job done, striking out Nick Johnson on four pitches. He could have done it on three, but a close pitch on the inside edge was ruled a ball. No matter, though, as he came back with high heat to get the two-home run man to go down swinging.
Bottom 8th, 6-5 Red Sox: Managers make substitutions for defensive purposes all the time, but rarely do they make an impact on the game. That’s not the case today, as Che-Hsuan Lin made an outstanding diving catch in shallow right-center field to record the second out of the eighth inning.
A runner tagged and scored from third on the play, but it was a crucial out for the Sox and Vicente Padilla.
Alfredo Aceves is now in to try to record the four-out save.
Middle 8th, 6-4 Red Sox: Baseball’s a funny game. On one pitch, Scott Podsednik may be attempting a slap single just to get on base, and on the next pitch, he may be crushing a home run to right field.
That was the case this inning, as Podsednik made Darren O’Day pay for a meatball left over the middle of the plate.
End 7th, 5-4 Red Sox: Rich Hill was slinging cheddar… for the two batters he faced. Hill set down Luis Exposito on four pitches, finishing him off with a 93 mph fastball. He then sat down Xavier Avery on four pitches, getting him looking at a nasty curve.
Hill was followed out of the pen by Vicente Padilla, making his 18th appearance of the season. He followed suit, sitting down Robert Andino on three pitches.
Three K’s, no hits for the Sox bullpen in the 7th. So far, Sox relievers-not-named Andrew Miller are perfect on the afternoon.
Middle 7th, 5-4 Red Sox: After two quick outs via a Pedroia pop out and Ortiz drive to the warning track, the Red Sox put something together. Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t make much out of it.
With two outs, Adrian Gonzalez went opposite field — through the shift — for a single to left. Kevin Youkilis followed with a single of his own, his second hit and third time on base for the afternoon. He was lifted for pinch-runner Che Hsuan Lin, finishing 2-for-3 with a pair of singles and a run scored. Middlebrooks followed, working a 10-pitch at bat, before flying out to left and stranding the two Boston runners.
Sox still hold a 5-4 lead, but it would have been nice to get some insurance on the board.
With Youkilis out, Gonzalez takes over at first and Lin heads out to right. Lefty Rich Hill is now on the mound, the third pitcher of the day for Boston.
End 6th, 5-4 Red Sox: Did anyone predict Nick Johnson would launch two homers to right field today? Anybody?
Andrew Miller’s roll of success came to a grinding halt, with a two-out walk to Betemit and serving up the two-run jack to Johnson.
Bottom 6th, 5-2 Red Sox: Daniel Bard, at just 90 pitches, is out of the game after striking out Adam Jones to lead off the bottom of the sixth.
It’s a bit early, but Bard has fallen apart around 100 pitches before this season. Ending his outing on a positive note and with the bases empty is good both for Bard and the team.
Andrew Miller, who’s been untouchable as of late, enters the game.
Middle 6th, 5-2 Red Sox: That call to the bullpen didn’t work out so well for birthday boy Buck Showalter, as Ayala served up a two-run bomb to Kelly Shoppach to give the Red Sox a 5-2 lead.
One strong inning from Bard here will put him in great position to pick up his fourth win of the year.
Top 6th, 3-2 Red Sox: That’s all she wrote for Jake Arrieta, as he surrendered a solo homer to Daniel Nava and a single to Podsednik.
Nava’s now hitting .359 and has an OPS of 1.115.
Arrieta’s out of the game, with Luis Ayala entering for him.
End 5th, 2-2: Another double play by Aviles on a line drive gets Bard out of another jam, and the game remains tied through five.
Bard and Arrieta may not be long for this one — they’re at 86 and 83 pitches, respectively, heading into the sixth.
Middle 5th, 2-2: David Ortiz isn’t hustling much today, as he didn’t appear to be going full speed down the line after grounding out to short. Even at full speed, it looked as though David would have been out by a step, but it’s something worth keeping an eye on.
Meanwhile, the Sox go down in order for the first time all day.
End 4th, 2-2: Bard is showing some real control issues, walking Betemit and Johnson back-to-back with one out. He worked around it though, getting a couple of ground balls to get out of the inning, but he’s now walked four and has allowed four walks in his four innings of work.
Middle 4th, 2-2: Scott Podsednik nearly had his first single as a member of the Red Sox on a bunt attempt, but Arrieta was just able to reach out and field the ball before it got by him. Arrieta then threw out Podsednik at first, with Nava (single) advancing to second. The inning ended on an Aviles grounder to the hole. It looked briefly as though Aviles beat the throw, but first base ump Todd Tichenor called him out.
End 3rd, 2-2: Daniel Bard has made it through an inning without allowing a run for the first time of the day, thanks to a nice double play turned by Aviles. With a runner on first and nobody out, Aviles fielded a line drive that was absolutely smoked up the middle. Andino was far off first base, and Aviles easily doubled him up with a toss to Youkilis.
The inning ended with Kelly Shoppach gunning down Adam Jones, who was attempting to steal second base.
Middle 3rd, 2-2: The back-and-forth continues, as a two-out, two-strike RBI double from Will Middlebrooks drives in Pedroia to tie the game at two. Youkilis tried to score from first on the play, but a stutter-step to slow down as he neared third base killed those chances, and he was easily gunned down at the plate.
It’s funny — the big question for weeks has been how will Youkilis fit back into the lineup with Middlebrooks playing so well? Today, the two are a combined 3-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. That’s quite the duo.
End 2nd, 2-1: Bard surrendered a solo shot to Nick Johnson, his third of the year, but he avoids a big inning by picking off Avery between second and third. That’s quite the improvement from his balks in previous starts this year.
Middle 2nd, 1-1: The Red Sox loaded the bases with no outs, but Scott Podsednik grounded into a double play on the first pitch he saw. A run scored, but that was all the Sox would get.
The inning started with a Youkilis single to left, which was followed by a line drive from Will Middlebrooks on a hit-and-run. Daniel Nava then worked a walk before Podsednik’s double play.
Kelly Shoppach then walked, but he and Middlebrooks were stranded when Mike Aviles tapped out to second to end the inning.
The Sox evened the score and got Arrieta’s pitch count up to 44 through just two innings.
End 1st, 1-0: The damage was only one run, but Daniel Bard was forced to work quite a bit.
Bard allowed a swinging bunt single to leadoff man Xavier Avery before Robert Andino smoked a single up the middle past a diving Aviles. Adam Jones walked with one out before Chris Davis hit a fly ball to center field. Scott Podsednik, making his first start with the Red Sox, threw a strike to the plate, but Kelly Shoppach was unable to corral the ball as Avery slide home for the game’s first run. A sharply hit fly ball to Adrian Gonzalez out in right was handled with no problem for the inning’s final out.
Bard threw 24 pitches.
Middle 1st, 0-0: An infield single by Mike Aviles to lead off the game goes for naught, with Dustin Pedroia flying out to right, David Ortiz swinging at a breaking ball in the dirt for strike three, and Gonzalez grounding out to second to end the inning.
Arrieta looked sharp in the opening frame, hitting 95 on his fastball and showing great movement on his curveball.
12 p.m.: Here’s something that hasn’t been said in a long, long time — the last-place Red Sox will take the field in Baltimore today looking to win a late-May series against the first-place Orioles.
That’s the case though, as the 28-16 Orioles host the 21-22 Red Sox. The Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham said yesterday that this is the longest the Sox have gone without getting over .500 since 1996, when it took until late August. The Sox had a chance to get above .500 last night but could only muster one run and two hits against Brian Matusz and the Baltimore bullpen.
Today, they’ll try to get back to .500, and they’ll look to Daniel Bard to lead them there. He’s coming off a rough start in Philly, when he allowed five runs in five innings, an outing that included five walks. Jake Arrieta (2-4, 4.72 ERA) will be on the hill for the O’s.
First pitch is at 12:35 p.m., so check back throughout the game for inning-by-inning updates of all the action.