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Lack of support for Lackey sinks Sox in shutout

Righty allows three runs over 7 1/3, while bats can't deliver in clutch
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BOSTON -- If Red Sox pitcher John Lackey were inclined, he could complain about his team's lack of run support.

Witness Monday afternoon's 3-0 loss to the Tigers at Fenway Park.

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BOSTON -- If Red Sox pitcher John Lackey were inclined, he could complain about his team's lack of run support.

Witness Monday afternoon's 3-0 loss to the Tigers at Fenway Park.

View Full Game Coverage

Lackey (8-12) matched Doug Fister (12-7) zero for zero through the first six innings before Detroit scored twice in the seventh and once in the eighth, while all Boston could manage off Fister and three relievers was six hits.

As a result, Boston has scored a mere 19 runs (an average of 1.73) over Lackey's last 11 games and during that stretch, he's 2-7 with two no-decisions. On Monday, the Sox went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight runners, including five at third base.

Yet Lackey didn't give any signs that he was about to point the finger at his teammates.

"I'm still pretty much pitching the same," he said. "I know I've got to go out and put up as many zeros as I can.

"I don't worry about [the lack of run support]. The other team's pitcher isn't my problem. I've got to get a good lineup out as many times as I can."

Detroit still fielded a "good lineup" even though it was lacking last year's American League MVP, Miguel Cabrera (strained abdominal muscle).

"This is about as good as I've ever pitched," Lackey said. "I'm trying hard. But it's great to be in first place.

"As a team, we've been playing good baseball. It's been fun to watch. It's a great group of guys. Just because we don't score it's definitely not because of a lack of effort. The boys want to give me some runs. They feel pretty bad after games. I get a lot of 'nice job.' They're grinding, but things happen."

Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia sympathized with Lackey regarding the righty's lack of run support and that he maintains his composure.

"He gets frustrated when we don't win," he said. "I think that's the biggest thing. He knows his job is to go out and give us the best chance possible to win. He's been doing that his whole career.

"To have that kind of stretch like he's had where he's keeping us in the ballgame and we can't get any runs, at the end of the day personal goals for him are out the window. He wants to win -- period. He wants to win and go to the World Series and get a ring.

"It doesn't surprise me [that Lackey's pitching well]," Saltalamacchia continued. "It's something I played against when I was with Texas. His being healthy is the biggest key. Now his velocity's coming back and he's definitely been one of our best pitchers.'

The fact Fister plus Phil Coke, Bruce Rondon and Jose Veras (21st save) were able to blank the Red Sox was noteworthy because Boston stepped on the Fenway Park grass having scored the second-most runs in the Major Leagues.

"Part of our game is to grind out at-bats and drive up pitch counts," Boston manager John Farrell said. "We did that again today. We created those opportunities but we didn't get a key base hit. But I think there have been other games when we've shown a willingness to swing the bat earlier in the count, when a pitcher dictates he's in command right from the first pitch of a given at-bat.

"I think we're well aware of the type of team we are and what our strengths are."

Boston's strengths were mitigated by Fister, who showed an ability to keep his pitches down as evidenced by the fact that 12 of his 21 outs were recorded on grounders -- including three double plays.

"He pitched really well," Saltalamacchia said. "We did our approach with making him throw pitches. His pitch count went up (112 in seven innings). He was able to stay out there and he got some big double plays when he needed them."

Detroit finally unlocked what had been a scoreless tie in the seventh. Victor Martinez singled and scored when Andy Dirks crushed a pitch to dead center for a triple.

Omar Infante walked and the Tigers scored their second run on a somewhat unusual play. Don Kelly hit a bouncer to second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who threw to first baseman Mike Napoli. Given the out at first, Napoli's throw to shortstop Stephen Drew resulted in Drew having to tag Infante for the second out. In the process, Dirks scored from third base.

Detroit mounted another threat in the eighth with one out. Austin Jackson singled, stole second and stopped at third on Torii Hunter's single to center. But an alert Hunter sped to second when Jacoby Ellsbury overthrew the cutoff man.

Farrell removed Lackey in favor of lefty Matt Thornton with Prince Fielder due up. Fielder lined the first pitch to right for a sacrifice fly that produced a 3-0 lead.

"Whether it's the opposing pitcher going up against John, knowing it's going to be a low-run game because of how well he's pitched pretty much the entire season ... it's one of those things in baseball," Farrell said. "You have no control over it. And yet to his credit, he maintains his focus and continues to battle all through the end."

Mike Scandura is a contributor to

Boston Red Sox, John Lackey