Lackey contributes big inning of relief in eighth

Lackey contributes big inning of relief in eighth

Lackey contributes big inning of relief in eighth

ST. LOUIS -- John Lackey hadn't thrown an inning out of the bullpen since 2004, but that didn't stop him from telling Red Sox manager John Farrell that he would be available to throw an inning of relief in Game 4 of the World Series at Busch Stadium on Sunday night if needed.

He was and he did, pitching out of a bit of jam in the eighth inning as six Boston pitchers defeated the Cardinals, 4-2, to even the best-of-seven series at two games apiece.

"It was different; it's been awhile," Lackey said. "But I got through it and got us to the closer. I'm just helping out, trying to win a ballgame. It is the World Series. I told the manager yesterday that I wanted to help out if he needed me."

Lackey has made 342 appearances in 11 big league seasons, 18 of them in the playoffs, five in the World Series. Sunday's night's relief appearance was his fourth and two of the others came for the Angels in the 2002 playoffs. Lackey made one of those relief appearances that October against the Giants in the same series he finished off by starting a 4-1 Game 7 win at Anaheim.

Lackey started Game 2 of this current series at Boston and took the loss. Despite the relief appearance, he's still a safe assumption to start Game 6 on Wednesday night at Fenway Park.

"Oh, I'll be there," Lackey said.

Sunday was Lackey's throw day anyway and he tossed 17 pitches in live action.

"We knew if we had to piece it together it would have to be a little creative," Farrell said about using his bullpen in Game 4. "Lackey was going to be available for the one inning. And fortunately he gets a ground ball to finish out the eighth."

"I was warming up in the sixth inning when Jonny [Gomes] hit the [three-run] homer," Lackey said. "Then I sat down and thought I might be done. When Taz [Junichi Tazawa] went out there [and got one batter out to end the seventh] they told me I was going to pitch the eighth."

It was a two-base throwing error by third baseman Xander Bogaerts after a nice backhanded stab on a sharp grounder hit by Yadier Molina with one out that set up all the trouble. With Jon Jay at the plate, Lackey uncorked a wild pitch that ticked off the glove of catcher David Ross, allowing Molina to scoot to third.

Jay, representing the tying run at the plate, popped out and David Freese grounded out to short. Ended of inning, end of threat.

"I mean, that wasn't a big deal," Lackey said. "When you pitch 200 innings most years you have to do that several times. I guess so. I guess it's a bigger deal because it's the eighth inning of a game in the World Series. But still, it's about making pitches."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.