Jason Bay worked his late inning magic again as his double knocked in David Ortiz with the go-ahead run and Jonathan Papelbon finished it off to give the Boston Red Sox a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in front of 37,759 and a national television audience on ESPN at Fenway Park.
It’s the first series win for the Red Sox against the Rays since June 3-5, 2008 and snaps a streak of 6 consecutive series wins for the Rays against the Sox including the 2008 ALCS. The local nine improves to 20-12 and the Rays drop to 15-18.
Brian Shouse took over for Rays starter Matt Garza in the 8th inning and allowed a leadoff double to Big Papi. Rhode Island’s Dan Wheeler came in and uncorked a wild pitch with Bay at the plate to move Papi over to third. Bay followed that up with a wall ball double to easily score Ortiz and give the Red Sox a 4-3 lead.
Papelbon took over for Ramon Ramirez in the 9th and gave up a leadoff walk to Akinori Iwamura. Papelbon threw over to first to keep Iwamura close but his throw got away from Jeff Bailey and it allowed Iwamura to get in scoring position. Jason Bartlett singled weakly to center that kept Iwamura from scoring.
Carlos Peña pinch-hit for Dioner Navarro and Papelbon got him to strikeout as Bartlett stole second base. Papelbon finished it off with strikeouts of B.J. Upton and Carl Crawford to pick up his 8th save of the season.
Josh Beckett got the start for the Red Sox in this one and while he wasn’t totally dominant, he pitched a lot better than he has as of late. He went 6 innings, allowing 3 runs on 6 hits and 3 walks while recording 5 strikeouts.
Hideki Okajima looks like 2007 Darkman Okajima right now as he worked 1 2/3 innings with 2 strikeouts. Ramirez retired the only batter he faced to pick up a vulture win.
For the first time in a long time, the Red Sox were able to get to Garza for some runs. He went 7 innings, allowing 3 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks while striking out 8. Shouse took the loss as the only batted he faced, Big Papi, reached and scored. Wheeler gave up a hit and a walk and had a strikeout in an inning of work.
Both Bay and Nick Green led the Red Sox with 2 hits as they both had RBIs. Jason Varitek and J.D. Drew both had the other RBIs for the local nine.
The Red Sox did lose Dustin Pedroia to a strained right groin in the 4th inning and he’s listed as being day-to-day.
The Rays would get on the scoreboard first in the game in the 1st inning.
Beckett started the inning by retiring Upton on a ground out to second. Crawford then reached on an infield single. Evan Longoria popped out to short for the second out but Pat Burrell followed with a wall ball single that scored Crawford all the way from first base.
Bay started the second with a leadoff double and then went to third on a Mike Lowell fly out as Bay went to third. Drew then grounded to Willy Aybar at first who went home to try and get Bay but his throw pulled Navarro off the plate to tie the game at 1.
Garza started the 4th inning with strikeouts of Lowell and Drew. Jeff Bailey then doubled and came around to score on a Varitek double to give the Sox a 2-1 lead. It quickly became 3-1 as Green singled in Varitek. Green was thrown out trying to advance to second but Tek crossed the plate before the out.
Beckett got the first two outs of the 5th inning before an Upton double. He came in to score on a single by the pesky Crawford to cut the Red Sox lead to 3-2.
The Rays tied it up in the 6th on a Bartlett sac fly.
Good win for the Red Sox as now it gives them some confidence knowing that they can beat the Rays and get to Garza.
The Red Sox have the day off on Monday as they are traveling tonight to Anaheim for a 3-game set that starts on Tuesday night. It’s the final west coast trip of the season for the Red Sox.
Justin Masterson will likely make his last start before Daisuke Matsuzaka returns and he’ll be opposed by Jered Weaver.
Notes and musings:
Tampa Bay Rays @ Boston Red Sox 5.10.09 box score
Teams throughout Major League Baseball wore pink ribbons on their uniforms today to help raise breast cancer awareness. They also wore pink wristbands and players who use Louisville Slugger bats will swing customized pink bats stamped with the MLB breast cancer logo. Jason Varitek wore pink catcher’s gear, which will be auctioned off at a later date to raise money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, as will all pink bats used during the game.
Coming into tonight’s game, The Sox had dropped 4 of their last 6 Mother’s Day contests since 2003 after a 5- game winning streak from 1998-2002.
Tonight marked Josh Beckett’s 200th career start and his 3rd on Mother’s Day.