What looked like an easy day for the Red Sox turned scary in the ninth inning on Saturday.
Jon Lester handed a 6-0 lead to the bullpen after throwing 119 pitches over eight innings against the Oakland Athletics. After striking out 15 times and getting one hit against Lester, the Oakland hitters came to life against Chris Capuano.
Nick Punto doubled before Coco Crisp singled. When Jed Lowrie doubled off the Wall, Punto scored and Crisp came around when left fielder Jonny Gomes fired the ball over the head of the cutoff man and the catcher.
When Capuano hit Josh Donaldson with a pitch, manager John Farrell rushed closer Koji Uehara into the game.
“Things were happening quick,” Farrell said.
Uehara walked Yoenis Cespedes on four pitches and Oakland had the tying run at the plate with no outs. When Derek Norris grounded back to the mound, the Sox got the force at the plate but not a double play as the throw from catcher David Ross sailed into foul territory.
Another run scored to bring Oakland to within three runs. But Uehara struck out Alberto Callaspo before getting pinch hitter Brandon Moss to line to right field. It was the seventh save for Uehara.
Capuano had thrown 15 scoreless innings before giving up the three runs.
The Sox had Edward Mujica warming up to pitch the ninth inning, but he was shut down after feeling what he described as “a pinch” on his right side.
Farrell said the rib-cage strain would be evaluated Sunday. But given that Mujica could not take a deep breath without some tightness after the game, a trip to the disabled list seems likely.
“I didn’t feel comfortable. They stopped me right there,’’ Mujica said. “It felt weird. . . . I’ve never felt that before.”
The injury could actually be a break for Mujica, given his uneven performance this season. Mujica has given up 16 hits over 10 innings, six for extra bases. He also has four walks, one fewer than he had over 64⅔ innings for the Cardinals last season.
The Sox envisioned Mujica as being a reliable late-inning reliever capable of closing if needed, but he has so far been worthy only of low-leverage situations.
Farrell said that pitching coach Juan Nieves is working on adding some deception to Mujica’s delivery and getting him to pitch more consistently to the corners. A trip to the disabled list and subsequent rehabilitation stint would allow that work to be done without exposing Mujica to major leaguers.
John Lackey, who starts the series finale Sunday, allowed three runs on 13 hits over his last 16 innings, facing the Yankees and Rays. He struck out 16 and walked one in those two starts . He’ll be facing one of the game’s most talked-about pitchers in 24-year-old Sonny Gray.
Gray is 4-1 with a 1.76 earned run average in six starts and is coming off a three-hit, 108-pitch shutout of Texas on Monday. Gray is facing the Red Sox for the first time in his career and none of their hitters have seen him.
Lackey is 19-6 with a 2.90 ERA in 34 starts against Oakland.
Part of history
Zack and Harry Andes are the kind of dedicated Red Sox fans who make the 295-mile trip from their home in Scranton, Pa., to Fenway Park 15 or 20 times a season.
On Friday night, the father and son were rewarded for their diligence — and Harry’s good hands.
When Dustin Pedroia hit his 100th career home run in the sixth inning, the ball bounced to Harry in the Monster Seats and he held on.
“My dad scooped it up and within seconds a security guard came over and asked if we would give Dustin the ball,” Zack said. “We said sure, as long as we could congratulate him personally.”
When the game was over, the duo was escorted to the backdoor of the clubhouse and Pedroia came out to meet them.
“What a nice guy, he said, ‘Thank you,’ more than we did,” Zack said. “He gave us two signed bats. He signed them personally to us. Those will be getting framed.”
On a day when Lester was superb and David Ortiz hit a long home run, Nate Moulter was one of the most popular people at Fenway Park.
Who is that? He was the Green Monster scoreboard operator charged with posting the score of the Bruins’ playoff game.
As the Bruins rallied to beat Montreal, 5-3, in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, Moulter popped out of the scoreboard between innings to update the score. That he was wearing a Bruins jersey only made the crowd cheer more.
When the Bruins took the lead in the third period, Moulter slipped the metal panel in place and slapped it twice. The crowd stood and celebrated.
Day off for Shane
After playing three games over two days, right fielder Shane Victorino was given the day off. Farrell got creative with the lineup as a result and started Jackie Bradley Jr. in right field for the first time since April 8 and Grady Sizemore in center field.
“The arm strength of Jackie in right field is a factor in that. Still feel like right field might be the most important position in this ballpark,” Farrell said.
Sizemore made a diving catch in the seventh inning to take a hit away from Lowrie.
There was a moment of silence before the game for longtime amateur scout and Red Sox Hall of Famer George Digby, who died on Friday in Tennessee at the age of 96.
Digby is survived by his wife of 60 years, Helen, one son, and three daughters.
Digby was with the team from 1944-2004. The New Orleans native signed numerous major leaguers, including Wade Boggs, Mike Greenwell, Dalton Jones, Reid Nichols, and Jody Reed.
Digby recommended the Red Sox sign Willie Mays in 1949 after seeing him play in Birmingham, Ala. But for reasons mostly related to racism, team executives refused.
Mike Napoli drew a walk in the fifth inning to extend his streak of reaching base to 26 straight games, a career best. He has reached base safely in 28 of the 29 games he has played and has an on-base percentage of .411 . . . Lester has struck out 10 or more batters 18 times, matching Smoky Joe Wood for third place in team history. Pedro Martinez did that 72 times and Roger Clemens 68 times.