|Matsuzaka struggles with control, Red Sox lose again|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 19 July 2007 23:05|
``If Manny's ball goes a foot the other way ...,'' Francona said of the long drive by Manny Ramirez that was caught about a foot from the bullpen fence. ``We came up empty. It hurts.''
A.J. Pierzynski drove in three runs and had three of Chicago's six hits on Thursday night, making Daisuke Matsuzaka pay for a career-high six walks and leading the White Sox to a 4-2 victory over the plummeting Red Sox.
``A.J. came up big for us, two times,'' said center fielder Jerry Owens, who chased down Ramirez's a line drive by Manny Ramirez near the 420-foot marker to help preserve a one-run lead in the seventh.
Javier Vazquez (7-5) allowed two runs, nine hits and two walks, striking out five in 6 1-3 innings to win his fourth consecutive decision. Paul Konerko hit his 21st homer for the White Sox, and Bobby Jenks pitched the ninth for his 26th save.
Matsuzaka (11-7) allowed three runs and two hits while striking out six. But he bunched his walks together - two in the first and three in the sixth - and both times Pierzynski was there to drive in the runners.
``He pitched himself into a box where a single meant a few runs,'' Francona said.
The Red Sox have lost three straight, five of seven and eight of their last 11 since sitting a season-high 12 games up in the AL East. The New York Yankees, who lost 3-2 to the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday, remained seven games back in their increasingly realistic quest for a 10th consecutive division title.
In other AL games, it was Cleveland 7, Texas 5; Detroit 4, Minnesota 3; and the Los Angeles Angels 3, Tampa Bay 0.
Boston trailed 3-2 in the seventh when Dustin Pedroia singled with one out - his third hit of the game - and White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen pulled Vazquez so lefty Matt Thornton could face David Ortiz. Ortiz singled, bringing out righty Ryan Bukvich to face Ramirez.
Ramirez went sprawling to the dirt on the first pitch, and on a 1-1 count launched the ball to the deepest part of ballpark. But Owens chased it down in the Fenway triangle, reaching out to grab it a few yards in front of the 420-foot marker and just one step from the bullpen fence.
``I know Manny hits a lot of homers that way where he hit it,'' Owens said.
Kevin Youkilis, who also saw an early brushback pitch from Bukvich, struck out to end the threat.
After the start of the game was delayed 1 hour, 56 minutes, Matsuzaka retired the first two batters and then issued two walks, followed by Pierzynski's RBI single. Matsuzaka got Jermaine Dye on a grounder to short to end the inning, the first of nine consecutive batters he retired before three straight walks to start the sixth.
Boston had a chance in the second, when Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek singled to lead off the inning. Lowell came around to score on two groundouts, then Coco Crisp singled.
Pedroia then got caught between first and second on his RBI single, and Crisp broke for the plate. Crisp was barely tagged out by Pierzynski, the catcher, while diving to get back to third base, ending the inning.
Blue Jays 3, Yankees 2
At New York, Toronto rallied for three runs in the seventh inning off Chien-Ming Wang (10-5) to end the Yankees' five-game winning streak.
Dustin McGowan (6-5) gave up four hits in seven innings and Casey Janssen pitched a perfect eighth. Jeremy Accardo worked around a leadoff single by Alex Rodriguez in the ninth for his 14th save.
Indians 7, Rangers 5
At Arlington, Texas, C.C. Sabathia became the major leagues' first 13-game winner despite another shaky start, getting help from Grady Sizemore's long tiebreaking home run that led off the fifth against Kameron Loe (5-8).
Joe Borowski gave up Mark Teixeira's RBI single in the ninth before earning his 27th save.
Tigers 4, Twins 3
At Minneapolis, Brandon Inge's 10th-inning double off Joe Nathan (3-2) let Detroit complete a three-game sweep of the defending AL Central champions.
Zach Miner (1-1) pitched 1 1-3 innings for the victory, and the Tigers won for the 17th time in their last 21 road games. Todd Jones recorded his 26th save.
Angels 3, Devil Rays 0
At St. Petersburg, Fla., Kelvim Escobar (11-3) won his career-best fifth consecutive decision to help the AL West-leading Angels avoid a three-game sweep.
Garret Anderson hit a two-run single in the sixth off Andy Sonnanstine (1-5) to put the Angels ahead 3-0. Scot Shields retired his only batter in the eighth with a runner on second before Francisco Rodriguez pitched the ninth for his 25th save.