John Lackey buzzed through eight innings Tuesday night, giving up just one run on six hits and pushing the Red Sox to a 4-1 win over the San Diego Padres in the first game of a three-game set at Fenway Park.
The Sox have won six of seven games on this nine-game homestand. They improved their record against the National League to 5-2. For the first time since the end of the 2011 season, they’re 17 games above .500.
With his double in the first inning, David Ortiz (2 for 4) reached 500 doubles for his career. Jacoby Ellsbury went 2 for 4 to extended his hitting streak to 12 games and also swiped his major league-leading 33d base of the season.
For the second straight game, Brandon Snyder got the start at third base, and again he took advantage of the opportunity, going 1 for 3 with three RBIs.
He came up in the fourth inning with the bases loaded and Padres rookie Robbie Erlin’s pitch count mounting.
It was the third start of Erlin’s young career. The lefty was one of the Padres’ top prospects, and through the first three innings, he showed why. He calmly weaved through the Red Sox lineup the first time through, giving up just three hits and a walk.
But he worked himself into trouble in the fourth, when he gave up a single to David Ortiz and then walked Mike Napoli.
He got into a staredown with Jonny Gomes that lasted eight pitches but survived it by getting Gomes to whiff at his changeup.
But it didn’t get any easier for the rookie.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia worked him for a seven-pitch walk that loaded the bases and also ran Erlin’s pitch count to 84 with just one out in the books in the fourth.
It was obvious when the Padres conferenced at the mound that Erlin was reaching his threshold. He had averaged 95 pitches in his first two starts.
When Snyder stepped to the plate, he was facing a pitcher running on fumes and he offered no sympathy.
Snyder fouled off five pitches, four with two strikes, before finally smacking a 2-and-2 fastball off the Monster in left-center that cleared the bases and gave the Sox a 3-0 lead.
The knock came two days after Snyder ripped a one-out single that ignited the Sox’ walkoff win against the Blue Jays.
Coming off a career-high-tying 12 strikeouts in his last start, against the Rockies, John Lackey set the same dominant tone from the start against the Padres.
His first 14 pitches were all fastballs. The hardest was 95 miles per hour. The softest was 92.
In the first inning, the only Padre who could manage to get a bat on it was Carlos Quentin, who fouled off a 95 mile-per-hour heater before bouncing another one to short to end the inning.
Otherwise, leadoff man Logan Forsythe stared at one for strike three, and after watching one go by for a ball Chris Denorfia flailed at three straight.
Through the first four innings, Lackey notched five strikeouts.
He gave up his only run in the seventh on a Jesus Guzman fly ball that clanged off the top of the Monster. It took a replay review by the umpiring crew to determine whether the ball cleared the Wall.
The ruling gave Guzman his fourth homer of the season but did nothing to derail Lackey. With the Sox short on arms in the bullpen, Lackey went eight innings. It was his fourth straight of at least seven innings. He came in with a 1.36 ERA at Fenway that got even lower.
The win was his fifth in his past six decisions, but for the first time all season Lackey’s win-loss record (6-5) went above .500.
Koji Uehara pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his fourth save in five appearances.
Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.