John Lackey felt a winter’s chill grip him when he took the mound at Fenway Park Friday night with the game-time temperature at 39 degrees.
“It’s not easy to throw the ball sometimes in the cold,’’ said Lackey. “But I don’t think it had much effect tonight.’’
From his first pitch, resulting in a controversial leadoff double by Nick Markakis, Lackey never seemed to gain any traction in an 8-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles before an announced Fenway crowd of 36,408.
“I thought [Lackey] had good stuff tonight,’’ said manager John Farrell. “He managed their lineup with a couple of walks, instead of giving in. But they hit a number of ground balls that found some holes and they were able to bunch some hits together.
“Then he doesn’t get a break early in that first inning on that double.’’
After going 3-4 on their recent road trip, the Sox began a seven-game homestand unable to generate any momentum from consecutive wins against the White Sox. Lackey surrendered six runs on 10 hits for the second straight outing.
Lackey (2-2, 5.25 ERA) went 5⅓ innings and issued four walks to go along with six strikeouts in throwing a season-high 100 pitches (60 strikes) before he handed the ball to Andrew Miller in the sixth.
When Markakis greeted him with a leadoff double down the left-field line, Lackey found no reprieve from Major League Baseball’s replay system. Farrell challenged the ruling but was overruled by league officials, who upheld the call on the field: fair ball.
The Red Sox are 0 for 3 on challenges in the inaugural season of instant replay.
“Looked pretty foul to me,’’ said Lackey.
“I had a pretty good angle, whenever it hit ground,’’ third baseman Brock Holt said. “I was like ‘No, foul, foul, foul.’ Lackey came up to me and asked, ‘I got that foul.’ But they looked it over and kept it fair.’’
After Delmon Young struck out and Chris Davis grounded to short, Adam Jones reached on an ground ball to Xander Bogaerts, who was unable to make the throw to first after ranging to his left to make a brilliant stab of the ball. Markakis easily scored from third to give the Orioles a 1-0 lead.
Lackey got out of the inning when he struck out Nelson Cruz.
The Sox loaded the bases in the second against Orioles righthander Chris Tillman, who threw 122 pitches before departing after the fifth, but were unable to capitalize. Tillman struck out Holt looking, then induced Grady Sizemore to fly to center to end the inning.
The Orioles erupted for three runs on four hits in the third to take a 4-0 lead. Lackey gave up a leadoff single to No. 9 hitter Jonathan Schoop (career-high four hits), who wound up scoring on Markakis’s double to right, making it 2-0.
After Young flew to center, Lackey issued a walk to Davis, then gave up a base hit to Jones, loading the bases. Cruz ripped a two-run single to right to expand Baltimore’s lead to 4-0.
“That two-run single was a little bit too much at that point to overcome,’’ Farrell said.
The Sox got one back in the fourth when Holt came up with two men aboard and grinded down Tillman in a 10-pitch at-bat. Holt fouled off five consecutive pitches before grounding a two-out single up the middle to score Mike Carp, who led off with a double off the wall.
“That was a great at-bat,’’ Dustin Pedroia said. “Brock was battling, fighting off some tough pitches. Hits like that can be huge and swing momentum our way. But we just didn’t add enough on there to catch them.’’
The Orioles tacked on two more runs on three hits and one walk against Lackey in the fifth to expand their lead to 6-1.
After Young led off with a single to left, Lackey struck out the next two batters but got into trouble when Cruz reached on a check-swing ball four.
Matt Wieters knocked home Young with a ground ball single to first, which darted past the diving Carp.
Lackey was visibly upset when J.J. Hardy’s single to left scored Cruz from third base. After a mound visit from pitching coach Juan Nieves, Lackey composed himself and got Steve Lombardozzi to pop to short.
Daniel Nava led off the fifth with a double to left and scored on Pedroia’s single to right.
After Mike Napoli flew to left and Carp popped to third, catcher A.J. Pierzynski snapped an 0-for-15 skid with an RBI bloop single to shallow center that scored Pedroia, pulling the Sox within 6-3.
The Orioles chased Lackey in the sixth. Miller got the last two outs and handed off to Burke Badenhop, who gave up a run in the seventh as Baltimore stretched its lead to 7-3 on Schoop’s RBI double to left.
The Sox tacked a run on against reliever Brian Matusz, who spelled Tillman (5 innings, 7 hits, 3 runs, 4 walks, 5 strikeouts).
Napoli led off with a towering double off the wall in left and scored on Bogaerts’s single to left. Bogaerts was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. Matusz, who hit Pierzynski with a pitch, got out of the inning by freezing Jackie Bradley on an 89-mile-per-hour fastball for a called third strike.
In the eighth, Holt grounded to second and was called out on a close play at first.
The call was reviewed by first base umpire Mark Carlson and overturned by the replay officials.
It put Holt aboard with a leadoff hit, but it proved to be a token victory when Matusz retired Sizemore and Nava on ground balls before handing it to Darren O’Day, who got Pedroia to ground out to third to strand Holt at second in Boston’s last gasp of the evening.Michael Vega can be reached at email@example.com.