ARLINGTON, Texas — Boston right-hander John Lackey came home to Texas to make a somewhat noteworthy start more memorable in the Red Sox’s 5-2 victory over the Rangers on Sunday.
The Texas native, who pitched in college at Texas-Arlington and lives in nearby Fort Worth, made his 20th career start at Globe Life Park, the most all-time for a visitor in Arlington.
He entered with a 7-7 record and an ERA above 6.00 in those starts, but Lackey showed a flash of brilliance against the Rangers. He struck out nine and walked none over seven innings, the first visiting pitcher in five years to strike out that many and allow no walks in Texas.
Second baseman Dustin Pedroia had his fourth multiple-hit game in his last eight, going 2-for-3 with a walk and a home run, and catcher A.J. Pierzynski had a two-run single in Boston’s three-run first inning for the Red Sox, who took two of three over the Rangers.
Lackey gave up two runs on seven hits in earning his fifth victory of the season against two losses. He has allowed two runs or fewer in each of his last four starts while going 3-0 and lowered his ERA to 3.57.
“I don’t think anybody has enjoyed pitching here for the most part,” said Lackey, referring to the park’s reputation as hitter friendly. “I’ve done a little bit of everything here. I’ve had some good ones and really bad ones. And a lot of in between. Today was a good one.”
Left-handed pitcher Andrew Miller worked a scoreless eighth for the Red Sox, and Koji Uehara struck out two of the three hitters he faced in the ninth to earn his ninth save.
Left-hander Robbie Ross (1-4) took his third loss in his last four starts. Ross gave up five runs on six hits and two walks. He also had three strikeouts.
Ross joined Martin Perez as members of the rotation who have allowed five or more runs in three consecutive games.
“I’d love to go out there and give up one or two runs and go eight innings,” Ross said. “But it hasn’t been that way. You get frustrated with yourself. I think I have come to the point where I need start not focusing on stuff I can’t control.
“I need ... to go out there and attack and let our guys make plays.”
Pedroia’s home run in the seventh was Ross’ last pitch of the game. Right fielder Shane Victorino and first baseman Mike Napoli also had RBI singles for the Red Sox (19-18).
Right fielder Alex Rios went 2-for-3 — his team-high 13th multi-hit game this season, with two stolen bases and a run scored for the Rangers (19-18). Left fielder Shin-Soo Choo had a home run but also struck out three times, including twice against Lackey.
Designated hitter Mitch Moreland had an RBI double for Texas in the seventh.
“He and A.J. (Pierzynski) have worked very well together,” Boston manager John Farrell said. “There’s a good tempo. They keep the pressure on the hitter by working quickly and throwing strikes.”
Boston backed Lackey with three runs in the first. Pedroia led off the game with a double, Napoli had a run-scoring double to right and Pierzynski drove in two with a single to right.
Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. accounted for the Red Sox’s fourth run, leading off the second with a double, advancing on Jonathan Herrera’s sacrifice bunt and coming home on Pedroia’s groundout.
“The guys really helped me out getting those early runs,” Lackey said. “It’s nice to go out knowing you already have a lead. Lets you pound the strike zone.”
Lackey retired the first nine hitters he faced before Choo sent an offering 411 feet over the left-center-field wall to open the Rangers’ half of the fourth.
Lackey worked out of a jam in the seventh after giving up three straight one-out hits, including a run-scoring double from Moreland. But he struck out center fielder Leonys Martin and second baseman Rougned Odor to preserve a three-run lead.
Ross retired 13 of the last 16 hitters he faced, one reaching on an error by first baseman Prince Fielder.
“After that first and second, our guys made some plays,” Ross said.