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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

We own the Rays (for one night)

Considering how one-sided the Rays-Red Sox battles have been in recent memory, last night was a promising start to what hopefully will be a pivotal series for Boston at Tropicana Field (good seats still available).

The Sox (77-54) looked like the better team and won 8-4 in game one of the three-game series. Their lead in the wild card stayed at 3.5 games over Texas and jumped to six games over Tampa Bay.

Jon Lester (11-7) pitched six solid innings before departing a little early with a minor groin strain. He stuck out nine and gave up two earned runs on seven hits and two walks.

Boston got some outstanding relief work from Billy Wagner, who pitched a 1-2-3 seventh (with two strikeouts) and Jonathan Papelbon, who recorded his first six out save of the season (his 33rd save overall; no hits, three strikeouts).

In between, Hideki Okajima made things tense as he gave up two runs on four hits (three bloopers) and a walk in the eighth. He couldn't get anyone out and Papelbon was forced to come in with the bases loaded and no outs in the inning. No problem as Pap picked his most impressive save of the season with a huge assist from Jacoby Ellsbury's diving catch on Jason Bartlett with one out in the eighth.

Tampa Bay (71-60) grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first on Carlos Pena's RBI single.

The Sox tied it in the second on a Jacoby Ellsbury RBI single. J.D Drew hit a two-run bomb in the third and Kevin Youkilis made it 4-1 in the fourth with a sacrifice fly.

Pena cut it to 4-2 in the fourth with a solo homer but the Sox continued to do damage against Andy Sonnanstine (5 runs, 8 hits).

Jason Bay hit his 30th homer of the season in the fifth. Mike Lowell's sacrifice fly in the sixth and Youk's solo homer in the eighth gave them a 7-2 lead.

After the Rays cut it to 7-4 in the eighth, Ellsbury added an RBI triple for the final margin.

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