Lackey, Sox hitters unable to figure out Texas

Ortiz stays hot, extending his hitting streak to 24 games

Lackey, Sox hitters unable to figure out Texas

ARLINGTON -- Unable to manufacture much offense, the Red Sox have lost the first two games of a series for the first time this season. Now, they must beat ace Yu Darvish in Sunday's series finale at Rangers Ballpark to avoid a sweep.

Stymied by Alexi Ogando and a slew of Rangers relievers, the Red Sox suffered a 5-1 loss on Saturday night.

"It's a couple games. We'll be all right," Dustin Pedroia said. "Everything's going to be OK."

Through the first two games of this series, the Boston bats have managed a total of one run.

"You have to give credit where it's due," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "And their starting staff, their pitching staff, is a very good one. They stay out of the middle of the plate. Ogando used a high number of secondary pitches tonight to keep us from rushing out there in some fastball counts. And they've pitched well."

John Lackey grinded through his third start of the season, throwing 98 pitches over five innings.

But the righty kept his team in the game, allowing six hits and three runs. He walked three and struck out four.

"Through the first couple innings, I was locating the ball pretty good," Lackey said. "You definitely don't want to lose. Personally, there are some good things moving forward."

Since the start of the 2009 season, the Red Sox are 12-27 against the Rangers, losing all but one of seven series on the road over that span.

"Yes, that's a good team over there, but they're playing a pretty good team too," said Rangers manager Ron Washington.

Lackey's night started ominously, as Ian Kinsler belted his first pitch of the night over the wall in left for a home run, giving Texas a 1-0 lead.

The Red Sox answered against Ogando with their first run of the series in the second. David Ortiz extended his hitting streak to 24 games (dating back to last season) by belting a double to center to open the inning. With one out, Daniel Nava notched a single to center to tie the game.

Lackey got into a jam in the fourth. Adrian Beltre started the rally with a one-out walk. A.J. Pierzynski followed with a single to left. With two outs, Lackey walked Mitch Moreland to load the bases.

Then came a tough break. Craig Gentry tapped one to third, and Will Middlebrooks tried to make a play on it at first. But his throw to first was wild, getting away from first baseman Mike Napoli. Two runs scored on the play to make it a 3-1 game. Gentry was credited with a hit and Middlebrooks was charged with an error, his second of the game.

"It was one of those in-betweeners and I felt, a guy with speed like that, I need to go get that," Middlebrooks said. "But at the same time, it's going to be an in-between hop, so I wanted to at least give myself a chance to get him out. I wanted to get rid of it as quick as I could and I made a bad throw."

It was Lackey's third start back from Tommy John surgery and second outing since suffering a right biceps injury on April 4.

"I felt pretty good," Lackey said. "I gave up some baserunners and kind of managed the inning, kind of pitched around a couple guys. I ended up getting a ground ball with two outs. Tough luck."

Boston mounted a comeback threat in the seventh. Middlebrooks led off with a single. Robbie Ross came on to face Stephen Drew, getting him on a fielder's choice grounder. Jacoby Ellsbury laced a single up the middle. Shane Victorino's grounder to first pushed runners to second and third.

Washington brought on righty Tanner Scheppers to face Pedroia. A hit by Pedroia could have tied the game. But Scheppers got him on a tapper to first, ending the threat.

"He's got great stuff," said Pedroia, who is in an 0-for-14 slump. "He throws hard. His ball has some tail to it and he's got a good curveball."

The Rangers added some insurance in the eighth when Gentry belted a two-run homer against Koji Uehara.

Even with the two straight losses in Texas, the Red Sox still own the best record in the Majors at 20-10.

"We've got a confident team," Pedroia said. "You're going to go through stretches where one or two or three guys aren't swinging the bats well. We'll bounce back right out of it. That's the key to a good team. If a couple of guys aren't swinging the bat well, somebody else will pick us up."

Ian Browne is a reporter for Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.