Red Sox

Lackey dominant, sinks Mariners, 7-4

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Lackey dominant, sinks Mariners, 7-4

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON The Red Sox pounded Felix Hernandez for five runs in the seventh inning at Fenway Park Friday night, breaking open what had been a one-run game until then, on their way to a 7-4 win. It was the Sox 15th win in 18 games, and the Mariners 13th straight loss.

John Lackey picked up the win, evening his record at 8-8 with a 6.28 ERA. He went seven innings, allowing one run on eight hits with no walks, four strikeouts and a wild pitch.

Hernandez had never before lost at Fenway. He entered the game with a record of 3-0 (1.49) in five previous starts, but took the loss, going 6 13 innings, giving up six runs on 11 hits and four walks with two strikeouts. He falls to 8-9 with a 3.47 ERA.

Leading by a run heading into the seventh, the Sox batted around in the inning, with two runs scoring on Adrian Gonzalezs single to center and another two on Kevin Youkilis single to left, aided by an error from Mariners left fielder Mike Carp.

Franklin Morales came in for the eighth, giving up a three-run homer to Carp, before Daniel Bard came in with two outs and a runner on to close the door.

Jonathan Papelbon pitched a perfect ninth for his 22nd save.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: John Lackey
Lackey needed 22 pitches to get through the first inning, when he gave up a run on three hits. But he settled down after that to pick up the win, improving his record to 8-8 with a 6.28 ERA. Lackey went seven innings, giving up one run on eight hits with no walks and four strikeouts, against the Mariners who have lost 13 straight and have not scored three or fewer run in nine of those games.

I thought he was tremendous, said manager Terry Francona. He threw strikes. Even the hits he gave up he was ahead in the count.

The Mariners scored when Ichiro Suzuki singled on Lackeys first pitch of the game, stole second on the second pitch, stole third on the third pitch, and scored on Dustin Ackleys one-out single to left. But that was all the damage the Ms could do against Lackey.

Lackey won his third consecutive start, the second time he has put together a three-start win streak this season and the first time since 2008 he has had two such streaks in a season.

Since Aug. 19, 2006, while with the Angles, he is 9-2 with a 2.34 ERA in 13 starts against the Mariners, while his teams have gone a combined 11-2 in those games.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jacoby Ellsbury
Ellsbury continues to stay white-hot, going 2-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI. His solo homer leading off the third inning, his 16th of the season, gave the Sox a one-run lead until they broke through for five runs in the seventh.

He looks great, said Dustin Pedroia. Hes ready to hit. Hes driving the ball. Hes having the year like he had a few years back before he got hurt. I dont think anybodys surprised. Hes a great player.

Ellsbury, who had two homers on Wednesday in Baltimore, now has seven in July, the most hes ever hit in a month.

THE GOAT: Felix Hernandez
With the Sox holding a slim one-run lead going into the seventh, Hernandez allowed them to blow the game open with five runs. He went 6 13 innings, allowing six runs on 11 hits and four walks with two strikeouts and a home run. It was his shortest outing since pitching five innings on May 11 in Baltimore. It was his fewest strikeouts since picking up two on Aug. 1, 2009, at Texas. It was the most walks hes allowed in his last six outings, and more than he had allowed in his previous three starts.

Hernandez lost at Fenway Park for the first time in six career starts, and lost to the Sox for just the second time in his career. He has not earned a win in five starts since his last win on June 24 against the Marlins. In those games his team has given him a total of seven runs of support and no more than two in any game.

We found some holes, said Dustin Pedroia. Its not like we were lighting the place up. Hes got great stuff, and we got a couple ground balls that found some holes and we got a big hit. Thats basically it. Thats how you beat a pitcher like that. He doesnt get hit around that much because his stuff is so great. So we were fortunate to win.

THE TURNING POINT
With Lackey struggling in the first inning, giving up a first-pitch single to Ichiro Suzuki, a second-pitch stolen base, and a third-pitch stolen base, the Mariners could muster just one run in the inning. Lackey needed 22 pitches to get through the inning. Justin Smoak struck out with runners on first and third to end the inning. With a first-pitch temperature of 96 degrees, the Mariners unable to drive up Lackeys pitch count and workload, the Sox right-hander was able to regroup between innings and settle into a groove. He allowed no runs and just five hits over his next six innings.

STAT OF THE DAY: 60
The Sox now have a record of 60-37. With their 60th win coming in their 97th game, it is their fastest season to 60 wins since 1979, when they did so in 95 games. The only times the Sox have reached 60 wins at an earlier date were July 19, 1912; July 17, 1946; and July 16, 1978.

QUOTE OF NOTE:
I know his ERA is high. At the end of the year itll probably be higher than we want but if he pitches like this its not going to matter. -- Terry Francona on John Lackeys 6.28 ERA

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

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MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.

Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young

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Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young

Max Scherzer heard his name and thrust his arms in the air, shouting and smiling big before turning to kiss his wife.

Corey Kluber, on the other hand, gulped once and blinked.

Two aces, two different styles - and now another Cy Young Award for each.

The animated Scherzer of the Washington Nationals coasted to his third Cy Young, winning Wednesday for the second straight year in the National League. He breezed past Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, drawing 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Kluber's win was even more of a runaway. The Cleveland Indians ace took 28 first-place votes, easily outpacing Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox for his second AL Cy Young.

Scherzer yelled "yes!" when his award was announced on MLB Network, a reaction in keeping with his expressive reputation. He showed that intensity often this year, whether he was cursing under his breath like a madman during his delivery or demanding - also with expletives - that manager Dusty Baker leave him in the game.

Just a little different than the pitcher they call "Klubot." Kluber was stoic as ever when announced as the AL winner. He swallowed hard but otherwise didn't react, only showing the hint of a smile moments later when answering questions.

Not that he wasn't thrilled.

"Winning a second one maybe, for me personally, kind of validates the first one," Kluber said.

Scherzer's win moves him into rare company. He's the 10th pitcher with at least three Cy Youngs, and among the other nine, only Kershaw and Roger Clemens aren't in the Hall of Fame.

"That's why I'm drinking a lot of champagne tonight," Scherzer said.

Scherzer earned the NL honor last year with Washington and the 2013 American League prize with Detroit.

"This one is special," he said. "When you start talking about winning three times, I can't even comprehend it at this point."

Scherzer was 16-6 with a career-best 2.51 ERA this year. The 33-year-old righty struck out a league-leading 268 for the NL East champion Nationals, and in an era noted for declining pitcher durability, he eclipsed 200 innings for the fifth straight season. He had to overcome a variety of ailments to get there, and Washington's training staff was high on his thank-you list.

"Everybody had a role in keeping me out on the field," he said. "I'm very thankful for all their hard work."

Kershaw has won three NL Cy Youngs and was the last pitcher to win back-to-back. He was 18-4 with a league-best 2.31 ERA and 202 strikeouts. This is his second runner-up finish. Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals finished third.

Kluber missed a month of the season with back pain and still easily won the AL award over Sale and third-place finisher Luis Severino of the New York Yankees. Kluber led the majors with a 2.25 ERA, and his 18 wins tied for the most in baseball. He added to the Cy Young he won with the Indians in 2014 and is the 19th pitcher to win multiple times.

The 31-year-old Kluber was especially dominant down the stretch, closing out the season by going 11-1 to help Cleveland win the AL Central. He and Minnesota's Ervin Santana tied for the major league lead with five complete games - nobody else had more than two. Kluber also led the majors with 8.0 wins above replacement, per baseball-reference.com.

Kluber and Scherzer both had rough outings in the playoffs. Kluber gave up nine runs over two starts in an AL Division Series against the Yankees, and Scherzer blew a save in the decisive Game 5 of an NL Division Series against the Cubs.

Scherzer said he couldn't even watch the League Championship Series, although he did tune in for the World Series.

"That will eat at me this whole offseason," he said.

Voting for the awards was completed before the postseason began.

The final BBWAA honors will come Thursday when the MVP awards are announced in the AL and NL.

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