Lackey keeps Sox in it, but late rally falls just short

Righty allows three early homers; Boston strands tying, go-ahead runs

Lackey keeps Sox in it, but late rally falls just short

PHILADELPHIA -- The venue changed from Boston to Philadelphia, from the land of clam chowder to the home of the cheesesteak.

But for the second straight night, the Red Sox came up short in a tight one against the Phillies, this time taking a 4-3 loss.

For most of Wednesday night, Boston felt victimized by the cozy confines of Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies got all four of their runs on solo homers, three of which weren't exactly launched.

"In this ballpark, every time the ball goes in the air, seemingly you're holding your breath a little bit," said Red Sox manager John Farrell.

By the time the Red Sox batted in the ninth, they hoped to take advantage of the cozy dimensions.

The ideal spot was when David Ortiz stepped to the plate, representing the tying run with one out against former teammate Jonathan Papelbon.

For eight innings, Ortiz had sat on the bench because there is no designated hitter in the National League. With one swing, however, he could have made a lasting impact on the night.

Ortiz got just under a four-seamer from Papelbon and flew out to shallow right.

"It was a good pitch," said Ortiz. "It was up and in. It wasn't like it was right down the middle. It was a pitchers' pitch, to be honest with you. That's a pitch that's hard to drive. Good location."

However, the Red Sox, who have had a flair for the dramatic in their last at-bat this season, stayed at it. Jonny Gomes punched in a single to right and Stephen Drew, who started the rally with a one-out walk, moved to second.

Jacoby Ellsbury blooped one down the line in left, out of the reach of a diving Dominic Brown for a double.

Drew roared home and Gomes was held at third.

"We're not going to make the last out at home to end the game. Two outs, I'm going on contact," said Gomes.

Daniel Nava represented Boston's last hope, but he swung at the first pitch and grounded to first, ending the game.

Before the game came down to Papelbon, the Red Sox weren't able to generate much against Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick, who earned the win, allowing four hits and two runs over six innings.

"He used three pitches for strikes," said Farrell. "He stayed out of the middle of the plate for the most part."

And for the second straight night, a Boston starting pitcher took a tough-luck loss.

John Lackey turned in his third straight quality start, giving up six hits and three runs over six innings. The right-hander walked three and struck out five, throwing 98 pitches.

"I mean, the ballpark got me a little bit, for sure," said Lackey. "But that's where the game was played."

He probably could have gone another inning, but playing under NL rules, Gomes pinch-hit for Lackey with one out in the seventh.

The Red Sox started this one auspiciously, as Ellsbury opened the game with a triple to center. Dustin Pedroia got him home on a one-out sacrifice fly to center.

In the second, Ryan Howard went to the opposite field in left for a solo homer that tied the game.

If there has been a constant the last few days, it has been the power of Brown. The Phillies outfielder has four homers in the last three nights against Boston -- two of which came in this one.

"I'm seeing it pretty well. I'm getting good pitches to hit," said Brown. "The first at-bat, I swung at some bad pitches. I told myself I'd try not to do it the rest of the night. I got some good pitches to hit and I'm happy that I hit them hard."

Brown ripped a solo shot off Lackey in the fourth. Erik Kratz made it back-to-back homers, depositing one over the wall in center to give the Phillies a 3-1 lead.

"Two of the three [home run pitches], yeah, I would throw again," said Lackey. "The one to center field was up, over the plate. He hit that one pretty good."

Kendrick kept it there until the sixth, when Nava launched a solo shot to right to slim the deficit to a run.

Boston had a chance in the seventh when Jose Iglesias walked and Gomes was hit by a pitch. But the Phillies had Nava shifted perfectly. What looked like a single up the middle instead turned into an inning-ending groundout to second baseman Kevin Frandsen, who raced to the bag and barely got there in time to force Gomes.

The Phils tacked on an insurance run in the eighth when Brown -- who else? -- ripped a shot to right against Koji Uehara.

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.