It just didn't work out the way the Rangers had hoped. Youkilis lined a game-tying double with two out in the bottom of the ninth, and drove home the winning run with an 11th-inning sacrifice fly to lift the Red Sox to a 3-2 victory at Fenway Park on Saturday night.
Texas, with Lee in complete command of the game, led 2-1 going into the ninth before the Red Sox rallied to tie the game against him. Boston won it in the 11th by taking advantage of reliever Alexi Ogando's throwing error on a bunt play.
"That was a well-played game," third baseman Michael Young said. "Cliff threw the ball extremely well. A ball didn't go our way the last inning, but that's an easy fix. He's a rookie pitcher, he'll learn from it and be better for it."
The game matched talented veterans and they both pitched superbly. Lee gave up a run in the first inning on three hits but had retired 22 of 23 batters going into the ninth. Red Sox starter John Lackey held the Rangers scoreless through five before giving up a couple of two-out, run-scoring singles to Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz in the sixth.
So Lee was up, 2-1, going into the ninth and under 90 pitches for the night. He had needed just five to get through the eighth inning.
"I felt good all the way," Lee said.
But Marco Scutaro led off with a single and was bunted to second by Darnell McDonald. Lee had a tough eight-pitch battle with David Ortiz, but got him on a grounder to second baseman Ian Kinsler. Scutaro went to third on the play, bringing up Youkilis.
First base was open, but Adrian Beltre, who is having an All-Star season, was on-deck. Feliz was in the bullpen if Washington wanted right-hand pitcher against right-handed hitter. But Washington stayed with Lee to face Youkilis.
"I had the right guy out there," Washington said. "I felt he had enough to finish."
There was no thought to pitching around Youkilis, who was 1-for-3 with a single off Lee to that point.
"I was just going right at him," Lee said. "It had worked all night, no sense changing my approach. In hindsight, maybe I should have thrown a different pitch, but if I had thrown the pitch in a different spot, it would have been a better result."
Instead, Youkilis drilled a 1-1 fastball through the left-side hole past Young at third. The ball was so hit so hard it made it all the way to the left-field wall for a double and the game was tied.
"I threw a pitch that caught quite a bit of the plate," Lee said. "I wish I could have that pitch back. I'm frustrated that I gave up that hit, but other than that, I thought I threw the ball well."
"We had good at-bats and hit things hard," Youkilis said. "He is one of the best pitchers for a reason, you just have to battle. We had one more out to go and were able to score a run. It was good to have it against a guy like Cliff ... and anyone else."
Lee, after walking Beltre intentionally, retired J.D. Drew on a grounder to second to end the inning, but did not come back for the 10th.
"I felt I could go back out there, but obviously you don't see too many guys go back out there for the 10th," Lee said.
Instead, Ogando came in to pitch. He retired the Red Sox in order in the 10th with Cruz reaching over the right-field wall to take a home run away from Mike Cameron to start the inning. But Ogando got into trouble in the 11th when he walked Scutaro leading off.
At that point, pitching coach Mike Maddux went to the mound to discuss the possibility of another sacrifice bunt by McDonald.
"We wanted to make sure we got an out," Washington said. "We needed an out."
McDonald bunted. Ogando fielded it and thought he had Scutaro at second. But his throw to shortstop Elvis Andrus was in the dirt and ricocheted into left field. The runners moved to second and third.
"Ogando tried to make a play and it didn't work out," Washington said. "He tried to get the lead guy and it didn't happen. The kid tried to make a play and it didn't happen. I'm not second-guessing him."
Ortiz was walked intentionally to load the bases. That brought up Youkilis, and this time, he hit a sacrifice fly to deep center to bring home Scutaro with the game-winner.
"Youkilis is just something else," Washington said. "This guy constantly rises to the occasion, and it always seems it's against us. I know they've seen it in Boston."