As John Lackey walked off the mound yesterday, having thrown 93 pitches through 52/3 innings against the Oakland Athletics, he received a standing ovation.

Fans at Fenway Park haven't always been so kind.

"That might be an understatement," Lackey said.

This time, though, they appreciated the big right-hander's return from the disabled list. In his first start since May 11, Lackey got credit for his first win since April 24 in a 6-3 Red Sox victory that completed a three-game sweep of the A's.

"Really professional game," manager Terry Francona said of the performance by Lackey, who yielded three runs on three hits, walked two batters and hit two others. "I thought he had some depth on his fastball. He got some fastballs by people, and he got some swings and misses. Lack knows how to pitch. I thought it was what we hoped for."

Truth is, Lackey had modest expectations. It'd been only a few weeks since he took an injection of cortisone in his balky right elbow, and before that, he had allowed 17 runs on 19 hits in only 102/3 innings in a pair of starts against the Los Angeles Angels and Toronto Blue Jays.

But Lackey almost always pitches well against the A's, and in the first two innings, he erased baserunners with a pair of double plays before Carl Crawford's three-run homer off left-hander Brett Anderson gave the Sox a 3-0 lead.

But Lackey almost always pitches well against the A's, and in the first two innings, he erased baserunners with a pair of double plays before Carl Crawford's three-run homer off left-hander Brett Anderson gave the Sox a 3-0 lead.

Lackey allowed a third-inning leadoff homer to Kevin Kouzmanoff and served up runs in both the fourth and sixth after hitting Kurt Suzuki and Conor Jackson, respectively. But overall Lackey said his elbow felt strong enough that he was able to throw his cutter/slider more sharply than before he went on the DL. He also was able to incorporate more changeups.