by howard ulman ap sports writer
The Boston Red Sox clinched their first postseason berth since 2009, beating the Baltimore Orioles 3-1 Thursday night behind John Lackey's two-hitter.
Coming off a last-place finish and a 69-93 record — their most losses since 1965, the Red Sox have rebounded under first-year manager John Farrell and ensured at least a wild-card berth in the postseason. They lowered their magic number to two for clinching the AL East.
Just before Adam Jones' game-ending flyout to right, the crowd chanted, "Lackey! Lackey!" And after Daniel Nava caught the ball, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia embraced Lackey in front of the mound as Red Sox players came out of the dugout for their usual postgame handshakes.
Earlier in the day, the Los Angeles Dodgers became the first team to earn a playoff berth when they clinched the NL West.
Boston scored all its runs in the second on Stephen Drew's two-run homer and Dustin Pedroia's RBI single.
Lackey (10-12) held the Orioles hitless until Jones homered with out one in the seventh, his 32nd this season. He right-hander allowed a one-out single to J.J. Hardy in the eighth, striking out eight and walked two in his 16th career complete game.
Lackey, sidelined last season following elbow-ligament replacement surgery in his right elbow, lowered his ERA to 3.44. He has received the least run support among Boston starters.
In John Farrell's first season as manager following the dismal one-season reign of Bobby Valentine, the Red Sox have led the division since after play on Aug. 25 and entered Thursday having topped the AL East in 46 of the previous 49 days. They have 94 wins in their first 154 decisions since going 94-60 in 1950.
Baltimore began the day one game behind Texas for the second AL wild-card spot.
Chris Tillman (16-7) gave up three runs and seven hits in seven innings with eight strikeouts and two walks.
NOTES: Pedroia extended his hitting streak to nine games. ... Baltimore opens a four-game series on Friday at Tampa Bay with Jason Hammel (7-8) pitching for the Orioles against David Price (8-8). ... The Red Sox send Jon Lester (14-8) to the mound against Esmil Rogers (5-7) in the opener of their last home series of the regular season, three games against Toronto.