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Monday, August 25, 2008

Jed Lowrie, You Give Me the Business

With the injuries piling up lately, it hasn't been pretty but the Red Sox took care of business (baby) with a 6-5 win over the Toronto Blue Jays in 11 innings yesterday at the Rogers Centre.

Boston (75-55) won two of three in Toronto and has a day off today before playing its final regular season series at Yankee Stadium.

Toronto (67-63) jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on Daisuke Matsuzaka and with A.J. Burnett on the mound, the Blue Jays looked poised to take another one from the Red Sox.

It was a true team win as numerous guys on the Red Sox contributed in big ways. Jacoby Ellsbury ran into a wall to make a catch, Jason Bay made a leaping catch at the left field fence to end the 10th, Dustin Pedroia hit a three-run bomb, Jonathan Papelbon threw two scoreless innings, Manny Delcarmen recorded a save and Jed Lowrie put Boston up for good with a homer in the 11th inning.

On a day where Dice-K really needed to give his beleaguered bullpen some innings, he came through. Kinda. Matsuzaka lasted six innings, giving up five runs on eight hits with a walk and eight strikeouts.

Now that Rich Harden is healthy (knock on wood) and racking up wins and double digit strikeout totals for the Cubs, Burnett has officially taken over the title of baseball's most hyped pitcher, who has never put it together for a full season. Believe it or not, for as good as Burnett's stuff is, he's never had more than 12 wins in a season.

He entered yesterday on a hot streak, with a career-high 16 wins to his name but his record didn't change. Burnett went seven innings, allowing five runs on seven hits with three walks and seven strikeouts.

No hitter has killed the Red Sox as much this season as Toronto center fielder Vernon Wells (2 runs, 2 hits, 3 RBIs, walk). He added to his stats with a two-run homer in the first off Dice-K.

Pedroia put the Sox up 3-2 in the third with his 14th homer of the season. Boston's other hitter having a dream season, Kevin Youkilis, increased the lead to 4-2 with an RBI single later in the frame.

Lyle Overbay hit a solo homer in the fourth and the Jays tied it in the sixth on Wells' RBI double. Rod Barajas put Toronto up 5-4 but Matt Stairs was thrown out at home to end the inning.

Coco Crisp hit a solo homer in the seventh to tie it up and then Lowrie hit his first lefthanded homer (and second overall) in the majors, to put Boston up 6-5 in the 11th.

The Red Sox bullpen gets an A yesterday as they combined for five scoreless innings. Justin Masterson (who's settling down nicely in his new role) got four outs before Hideki Okajima (who has quietly turned his season around) got the last two outs of the eighth. Even in a tie game on the road, Papelbon went two innings and Delcarmen managed to nail down the save after walking the leadoff hitter.

The Rays lost in 10 innings yesterday to the White Sox so they're currently 4.5 games up on Boston. The Yankees are five games behind Boston and the Red Sox lead the Wild Card by one game.

Clearly, the three games against the Yankees could prove pivotal as the Sox could put the final nail in the Bombers' coffin by taking at least two games. Nothing is ever that easy though and with Tim Wakefield (fresh off the DL) and Paul Byrd scheduled to start the first two games, it could turn into batting practice quickly.

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