White Sox infielder Brett Lawrie is pumped after hitting the game-winning homer in the eighth on Wednesday. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)
Koji Uehara allowed a pair of eighth inning home runs to blow a lead and Xander Bogaerts lost a potential tying blast on fan interference as the Red Sox suffered a wild, demoralizing 8-6 loss to the White Sox on Wednesday night.
Summoned to protect a 6-4 lead, Uehara hung a pair of splitters that got crushed. Melky Cabrera hit the first out to right field for a game-tying two-run homer, and then Brett Lawrie launched the game-winner over everything in left.
The Red Sox looked like they had potentially tied the game when Bogaerts lifted his third hit of the night towards the Green Monster, but it skipped off the top of the wall for a double. On replay, however, it appeared that a fan reached over the fence and touched the ball, possibly keeping it from clearing the red line that would make it a homer.
After a lengthy review, umpires left Bogaerts on second. There was more drama two batters later when Chris Young launched a potential three-run homer to left, but it drifted just a couple of feet foul in the gap between the pole and the roof box seats. Young then struck out.
Uehara’s implosion erased a solid start from left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (6 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 7 Ks), who featured his best fastball of the season, routinely hitting 95-96 mph. It also negated a strong night from the offense, which got multiple hits from the first three members of the order and a home run from struggling first baseman Hanley Ramirez.
Ramirez’s homer into the Red Sox bullpen in the sixth on a 1-2 count broke a 4-4 tie.
But Uehara had nothing on his splitter, which spun in the heart of the strike zone, and the White Sox made him pay while dealing the Red Sox their third straight loss and seventh in 10 games.
It did not take long for the Red Sox to find their stroke against one of the American League’s best pitchers. Jose Quintana began the night with a 2.63 ERA, but the Red Sox posted a four-spot in the third on a Sandy Leon walk and five singles.
After combining for 11 hits and two runs in the first two games of the series, the Red Sox put together ten hits and six runs on Wednesday night alone.
Eduardo Rodriguez showed much needed improvement, going six innings with his old delivery. Rodriguez’s last four starts were marred by a modified delivery that did not pan out well in addition to possibly tipping his changeup.
However the 23-year-old found what had made him successful in previous outings and let it take care of itself from there. He was blowing his fastball by batters in the 95 to 96 mph range, and occasionally subtly and effectively mixed in his changeup as well. He established the pitch early by starting the game with three consecutive changeups to leadoff hitter Tim Anderson, who took Clay Buchholz long on a first-pitch fastball to start the game Tuesday night.
However he was not exempt from exhibiting flashes of what’s gone painfully wrong for him this season. He left a fastball right over the heart of the plate to Todd Frazier, who hit his second home run in as many nights into the Monster seats. He also allowed a pair of hard doubles, including an RBI two-bagger to Cabrera.
Wednesday was Rodriguez’s first start of more than 100 pitches this season, tossing 102. It was his first outing north of 100 pitches since September 14 of last season.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
— Mookie Betts went 2-for-5 with a double to record his 30th multi-hit game of the season.
— Ramirez hit his sixth home run of the year and his second in eight games. He hit a 1-2 pitch into the Red Sox bullpen to give Boston a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the sixth.
— Eduardo Rodriguez brought his velocity back up consistently, clocking 95 to 96 mph routinely.
— Dustin Pedroia (2-for-4) and Bogaerts (3-for-5) recorded multiple hits, raising their averages to .306 and .351, respectively.
WHAT WENT WRONG
— Koji. The formerly reliable reliever saw his ERA climb to 4.78 after he allowed three runs on two homers.
— Reliever Heath Hembree allowed an insurance run in the eighth.
— The Red Sox lost a pair of home run challenges, first on Bogaerts’ blast, and then on Young’s near go-ahead shot in the eighth.
— Sandy Leon got picked off at third base in the fourth inning with one out, killing all momentum for the Sox in the frame.
— Travis Shaw exited the game in the fourth inning with a right shin contusion, no doubt a holdover from the ball he fouled off his leg on Tuesday.