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Red Sox blank Braves for third straight victory

The SportsXchange

BOSTON -- It took 52 games, but the Boston Red Sox finally have a three-game winning streak.

Coming after a 10-game losing streak, three straight interleague wins over the Atlanta Braves at least represents a first step.

"On the heels of what we've come off of, much needed," Boston manager John Farrell said after his World Series champions rode John Lackey and three relievers to the Red Sox's first shutout win of the season, a 4-0 interleague blanking of the Braves on Wednesday night.

The 10 straight losses dropped the Red Sox into last place in the American League East. Wednesday's win, which came at home after Monday and Tuesday victories in Atlanta, moved Boston out of last place.

The two wins in Atlanta were both of the come-from-behind variety. Not Wednesday.

On the night the Red Sox celebrated the 10th anniversary of their 2004 championship, veteran right-hander John Lackey pitched 6 1/3 shutout innings and a pair of Atlanta misplays led to two early runs.

Lackey (6-3) worked seven shutout innings at Tampa Bay in his previous start and left Wednesday's game with first and second and one out in the seventh inning. He didn't walk anyone and struck out nine. Three relievers finished up.

"When you look at the last two nights, both John Lackey and Jon Lester (six innings for a win on Tuesday night) have done an excellent job of getting deep in the game," said Farrell. "We've gotten timely hits."

Lackey, asked about the team taking a three-game step out of the 10-game hole, said, "We're not looking too far ahead. We won the game today, we'll come back tomorrow and get after it again tomorrow.

"You can't make up 10 games in one day. You gotta keep grinding at it and hopefully look up in 40, 50 games and we're back in it."

The Red Sox scored single runs in the second and third innings to hang the loss on right-hander Gavin Floyd (0-2). The first run was fueled when center fielder B.J. Upton and debuting second baseman Tommy La Stella couldn't get together on a fly ball that fell for a double. The second was led by a throwing error by backup shortstop Ramiro Pena.

Floyd worked the first five innings and suffered his first loss in eight career decisions against the Red Sox. In fact, he came in as one of four pitchers all-time undefeated against Boston (minimum eight starts).

"He gave up two runs. One was an unearned run and another was a fly ball, miscommunication, a young kid playing second base for the first time in a major league stadium," said manager Fredi Gonzalez. "(Floyd) grinded out some innings, a 100-plus pitches in five innings. He battled, really battled to keep us in that position.

"We got nine hits, left all kinds of people on base. We just couldn't get that next one."

The first run off Floyd came in on a double-play grounder, the second on a single by catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who has a seven-game hitting streak and 19 RBIs in his last 23 starts.

Rookie center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (two hits) doubled home a run off left-handed reliever Alex Wood in the sixth (his fourth RBI in the three games against Atlanta) and left fielder Jonny Gomes (two hits) singled in a run off Wood in the seventh.

Rookie shortstop Xander Bogaerts had three hits and a walk for the Red Sox, one of the hits the fly ball that fell in front of Upton.

La Stella, recalled from Triple-A earlier in the day, went 2-for-4 in his major league debut.

NOTES: The Red Sox placed struggling RHP Clay Buchholz on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to Tuesday) with a hyperextended left knee, the decision made after Buchholz failed to properly finish a bullpen session. Boston recalled RHP Alex Wilson from Triple-A Pawtucket. Buchholz has allowed 19 earned runs in 18 innings during his last four starts. ... New Chicago Cubs Triple-A player/coach Manny Ramirez, sporting a Mohawk, was on hand as the Red Sox honored their 2004 championship team in pregame ceremonies. ... With Atlanta second basemen hitting a combined .185, the Braves recalled 2B Tommy La Stella from Triple-A and he was in the lineup and had two hits. 2B Tyler Pastornicky was sent to the minors. ... Braves SS Andrelton Simmons, who left Tuesday night's game with a "nagging" ankle injury, did not start and C Evan Gattis (wrist) was a late lineup addition after passing a batting practice test. He missed Tuesday's game. ... LHP Mike Minor starts for the Braves against Red Sox RHP Jake Peavy in the finale of the two-game Boston portion of the four-game interleague matchup on Thursday night.
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