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September 19. 2013 10:59PM

Lackey hurls Sox into the playoffs


Boston starter John Lackey (41) delivers a pitch during the first inning of Thursday's game. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

BOSTON — John Lackey fired a two-hitter, and the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 3-1 Thursday at Fenway Park to clinch a playoff berth.

Boston is assured of at least a wild card. The Red Sox’s magic number for clinching the American League East championship was two pending the result of the second-place Tampa Bay Rays’ game against the Texas Rangers.

The Red Sox, who avoided a sweep in the three-game series, will be in the postseason for the first time since 2009.

Lackey had a no-hitter through 6 1/3 innings, but Baltimore’s first hit wasn’t a cheapie. Adam Jones clubbed an 0-1 pitch over the Green Monster.

Baltimore’s only other hit was J.J. Hardy’s eighth-inning single.

Lackey (10-12) threw his first nine-inning complete game of the season, finishing with two walks and eight strikeouts.

The longest Lackey took a no-hitter was 8 1/3 innings for the Los Angeles Angels against the Red Sox on July 29, 2008, at Fenway Park, when Dustin Pedroia’s single broke up his bid. Before Jones’ home run, he had allowed two baserunners, on two-out walks to Brian Roberts in the third and Nate McLouth in the sixth.

Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman (16-7) went seven innings, giving up three runs on seven hits and two walks with eight strikeouts.

The Red Sox took a three-run lead in the second. Stephen Drew hit a two-run homer over the Green Monster, driving in Jarrrod Saltalamacchia, who led off the inning with a double. Jackie Bradley Jr. doubled and scored on Dustin Pedroia’s single.

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NOTES: Orioles RHP Darren O’Day returned to action for the first time since Sept. 7, retiring one batter in the eighth inning. He was sidelined because of numbness in two fingers of his right hand. ... O’s manager Buck Showalter is deciding between RHPs Miguel Gonzalez and Bud Norris for the Saturday start at Tampa Bay. Gonzalez left Sunday’s game in Toronto with a strained right groin, and Norris missed a start due to tightness in his right elbow. ... Sox RF Shane Victorino did not play. He left Wednesday’s game for a pinch hitter in the 12th inning.

Manager John Farrell said Victorino, who has been dealing with a jammed right thumb, is considered day-to-day. ... Boston CF Jacoby Ellsbury has not yet begun baseball activities as he rehabs the fractured navicular bone in his right foot, an injury that occurred when he fouled off a ball off the foot Aug. 28. He continued playing but has not appeared in a game since Sept. 5. There is no timetable for his return.


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