Jon Lester struggled tonight but luckily for him his offense got him the necessary runs as the Red Sox held off the Devil Rays for a 8-6 win at Tropicana Field. Lester had some control issues again but a 5-run 4th inning was the difference for the Sox as they battered D’Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine.

Youk scoring in 1st/ReutersThe boys wasted no time getting on the Trop scoreboard. After Sonnanstine struck out Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis hit a double to deep center. David Ortiz brought him with a triple to make it 1-0 Sox. No that’s not a typo. Big Papi wasn’t on third that long as Manny Ramirez hit a sacrifice fly and after four batters it was 2-0 Sox. Sonnanstine got Mike Lowell to fly out to end the top half of the 1st.

Tampa Bay struck right back in the first. After Lester got the first two outs, he issued a walk to B.J. Upton. And just like the old adage says, walks will hurt you. And it did as Carlos Peña crushed a ball for a 2-run homer and just like that it was 2-2. Lester would finish the inning off with a strikeout of Delmon Young.

Things stayed quiet until the 4th inning when the visiting nine struck again. Big Papi reached on an infield single. Sonnastine got Manny to strikeout and then plunked Lowell. J.D. Drew singled to load up the bases for Jason Varitek. Varitek delivered in a run with single, reloading the bases for Coco Crisp. Coco got a hold of Sonnastine pitch and sent it down the first base line that was good for a double and two more Sox runs, making it 5-0. Lugo followed Crisp’s double with one his own that scored Varitek and Coco, giving the Red Sox a 7-2 lead.

Jon Lester/APLester was pitching well after the first. It took until the 5th inning for the D’Rays to get their second hit of the night, a 1-out single by Jonny Gomes. With Josh Wilson at the plate, Gomes went to second on a Lester wild pitch. Wilson would end up walking. Lester then got the second out of the inning as Dioner Navarro hit into a fielder’s choice that retired Wilson at second. Akinori Iwamura then hit a flyball that looked easily caught but it traveled into the first row of seats in left field for a 3-run homer. It cut the Red Sox lead to 7-5. After Lester gave up a single to Carl Crawford, he struck out Upton to escape any further damage.

With his pitch count pretty high, Lester came back out for the 6th inning on a very short leash. He got the first out of the inning but then walked Young and that ended his night as Terry Francona summoned Manny Delcarmen from the bullpen. Delcarmen got out of the inning quickly as he induced a double play by Brendan Harris. The play was eerily similar to the other day as Harris’ bat broke and the barrel went right at Lowell. Lowell, unlike Youkilis, was able to stay focused on the ball and start the double play.

Lester went 5 1/3 innings, giving up 4 hits, 5 runs, 4 walks and he struck out 4.

In the 7th, the Sox added another run. Pedroia led off the inning with a double and went to third on a Youk fly out to right. Big Papi was the second out of the inning as he grounded out to second, with Pedroia staying at third. Manny followed the Big Papi out by reaching on an error by Harris that allowed Pedroia to score, making it 8-5 Sox. Lowell then hit a single. After a pitching change by the Devil Rays, newly into the game Grant Balfour struck out Drew.

The D’Rays got that run right back in their half of the 7th. After Delcarmen struck out Gomes, he plunked Wilson. He then got Navarro to ground out to Youk at first as Wilson moved to second. Iwamura drew a walk and that brought out Francona once again, this time bringing in Hideki Okajima. Okajima got Crawford to hit a line drive to Pedroia but the ball bounced off of the thumb of Pedroia’s glove for an error with Wilson scoring from second. The error by Pedroia cut the lead to 8-6. Okie got out of the inning by striking out Upton.

The Red Sox went quietly in the 8th and 9th innings as all they could manage was a single and a walk. Okie started out the 8th (isn’t that supposed to be Eric Gagné time) and walked Peña. He followed the walk by getting Young and Harris out. Not wanting to overuse Okie, Tito summoned Jonathan Papelbon from them bullpen. Paps was lights out as he threw some high cheese by the bat of Gomes for the final out.


Papelbon started out the 9th by striking out pinch-hitter Greg Norton and Navarro. Papelbon closed out the game as he got Iwamura to pop out to Lugo for his 30th save. With that save, Papelbon becomes the first Sox closer to record 30 saves in back-to-back seasons and the first two have 30 in any two seasons.


The Sox hand the ball to Daisuke Matsuzaka tomorrow to try and finish a sweep of the Devil Rays. Dice-K has lost twice to them this season, but I am sensing good things tomorrow.

Notes and Musings:

D’Rays-Red Sox Boxscore 8/21

A passed ball credited to Kevin Cash last night was taken away after a review of the play. A catcher can’t be charged with a passed ball when a batter strikes out and the catcher has to throw to first with a runner already on.

Manny will have the day off tomorrow just to rest. As the Sox come down the stretch, I am sure you won’t see too much more of it so it looks like Tito is resting his guys when he can. After all, it is the Devil Rays.

Tonight’s start by Jon Lester marked the third time he has faced the D’Rays this year. He has two decisions in 13.2 innings pitched.

Big Papi’s triple was his first since September of last year. With Big Papi legging that out, you have to think his quad problem is ok right now.

All Sox starters tonight had at least 1 hit.

Don and Jerry were given a fake rat that they said was lifesize of the one in the booth last night. They tried to scare Joe Castigilione in the next booth over but he saw them coming.

The Red Sox held their fantasy football draft yesterday. No word on whether or not someone yelled out “I want to draft T.J. Who’s Your Momma!”[/youtube]