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TONIGHT > RED SOX VS. BLUE JAYS, 7 P.M.

Few lineup changes for nightcap

The Red Sox got what is sure to be a long day off to a good start with a 3-1 victory over Toronto in the opener of a day-night doubleheader at Fenway Park. With the win, the Sox again pulled even with the New York Yankees, who are at Baltimore tonight, for first place in the American League East and rose a season-high 28 games above .500. Entering tonight's Sox-Jays nightcap, which starts at 7:05, Boston and New York are tied atop the AL East with identical 92-64 marks.

With every game taking on added importance down the stretch, Red Sox manager Terry Francona made few changes in the lineup for tonight's second game. Jason Varitek takes over for Doug Mirabelli behind the plate. Kevin Millar replaces John Olerud at first base and Tony Graffanino is back at second base, after Alex Cora got the nod this afternoon.

Tonight's lineup

1. Johnny Damon, CF

2. Edgar Renteria, SS

3. David Ortiz, DH

4. Manny Ramirez, LF

5. Jason Varitek, C

6. Kevin Millar, 1B

7. Bill Mueller, 3B

8. Trot Nixon, RF

9. Tony Graffanino, 2B

P -- Curt Schilling

A few quick postgame notes:

  • Tim Wakefield, who went seven innings, allowing three hits and one run (unearned) to pick up his 16th win of the season, set a new career-high in innings pitched. Wakefield has now tossed 220 1/3 innings this season, topping his previous high of 216, set in 1998.

  • Much maligned shortstop Edgar Renteria (2-for-4 with two doubles in the first game of the doubleheader) has now hit in five straight games, going 8-for-22 (.364) with two doubles, a triple, three runs batted in and six runs scored.

    Postgame chatter from the clubhouse:

  • Jonathan Papelbon on having the ball in his hand with the game on the line in the late innings: "I love it. I wouldn't want it any other way. It's making me better as a player and it's making our team better and it's giving me valuable experience at the same time."

  • Papelbon on the piqued battle the Red Sox and Yankees are locked in down the stretch: "This division is a battle day in and day out. It's the best of the best, this stretch run we're going to have to bear down and get the job done."

  • Johnny Damon on Tim Wakefield: "He's probably one of the most important players on this team. He's the backbone. He's always going to be associated with the Boston Red Sox."

  • Damon on which pitcher is the current staff ace: "[Wakefield] is right now, but we have another guy going tonight who wants that ace title back and he's going to battle and make sure that he is. That's good. We have a competition between the starters. They want to be the best. Any one of our five could be an ace on any given day. I like them all. I know that Schilling is going to want to top what Wakefield did."

  • Damon on the demise of the Baltimore Orioles: "They're going out there and doing what they can. Those guys have had a heck of a year, going through what they went through. Me being the great author that I am I hope one of those guys writes a book about what kind of year they've had. ... I hope they're not running down. I don't think they are. I know Tejada is going to play every day and Melvin Mora. They just don't have their starting second baseman, [Sammy] Sosa is done for the year, their starting first baseman [Rafael Palmeiro] is done for the year."

  • Damon on the Sox looking for help from the Orioles in the pennant race: "Of course we hope they can help us out, but we have to look to the players on this team. We would love for them to win their next three, but we're going to worry about ourselves and hopefully that will be enough."

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