Seven strong innings from Jon Lester and a three-run home run by Jacoby Ellsbury pushed the Red Sox to a 3-1 win over in the first game of a double-header with Tampa Bay.
After giving up a run on a pair of doubles in the first inning, then hitting Sean Rodriguez and walking Kelly Shoppach in the second, Lester got through the early turbulence, retiring the 11 straight batters from the end of the second to the sixth inning.
He fanned eight batters and allowed just three hits in his 12th win of the season.
All of his run support came on one swing. With two on and one out, Jacoby Ellsbury blasted a 1-and-1 pitch over the fence in right field. The blast (his second in three games) gave Ellsbury 21 home runs for the season and upped his RBI total to 77.
Jonathan Papelbon came on in the ninth for his 28th save. The Rays dropped to 10 games back in the division and wild card races.
Top of the eighth, Red Sox 3, Rays 1: Daniel Bard was overpowering in the eighth, fanning Elliot Johnson and Desmond Jennings, then getting Sam Fuld to bounce out to Kevin Youkilis at third.
Bottom of the seventh, Red Sox 3, Rays 1: Another 1-2-3 inning for Shields, althought Josh Reddick threatened to do some damage with a deep ball to right that Sam Fuld had to twist and turn to run down at the warning track.
Jon Lester's done for the day, giving way to Daniel Bard. The line on Lester: seven innings, three hits, one earned run and eight strikeouts.
Top of the seventh, Red Sox 3, Rays 1: With the help of a tricky play by Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a pop up behind the plate, Jon Lester makes it seven innings of one-run, three-hit ball.
Bottom of the sixth, Red Sox 3, Rays 1: James Shields hasn't given up a hit since the home run to Ellsbury in the third inning. He's actually having his way with the heart of the Red Sox order. Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis, Carl Crawford and Jarrod Saltalamacchia are all hitless (0 for 12). They have a collection of hard-hit balls among them, however.
Top of the sixth, Red Sox 3, Rays 1: Evan Longoria broke up a string of 16 hitless batters for the Rays with a single to left field. Jon Lester's still zoned in, though. He fanned Ben Zobrist and BJ Upton to give him eight Ks (Zobrist and Upton have four between the two of them).
Bottom of the fifth, Red Sox 3, Rays 1: Three-up, three-down in the fifth.
Top of the fifth, Red Sox 3, Rays 1: The Rays haven't had a hit since those two doubles in the first inning. They haven't had a baserunner since the Kelly Shoppach walked on in the second inning.
Bottom of the fourth, Red Sox 3, Rays 1: Kevin Youkilis drew a leadoff walk, but Carl Crawford, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Josh Reddick followed up with fly balls and James Shields got out of the inning unharmed.
Top of the fourth, Red Sox 3, Rays 1: Jon Lester just sawed through the Rays 5-6-7 hitters, getting BJ Upton (swinging), Casey Kotchman (looking, albeit at a pitch that was out of the zone) and Sean Rodriguez (swinging). He's retired the eight straight batters and he's struck out four in a row going back to Ben Zobrist to end the third inning.
Bottom of the third, Red Sox 3, Rays 1: Jacoby Ellsbury takes Shields over the right-field fence for a three-run blast that puts the Sox ahead. It's his 21st of the season, and he's now up to 77 RBIs.
Top of the third, Rays 1, Red Sox 0: A Ben Zobrist strikeout on a 3-and-2 cutter polished off a clean inning for Lester.
Bottom of the second, Rays 1, Red Sox 0: James Shields only needed eight pitches in a brisk 1-2-3 inning.
Top of the second, Rays 1, Red Sox 0: Sean Rodriguez hit the ground after Jon Lester dotted him in the left knee with a first-pitch fastball. Rays manager Joe Madden came out with the team trainer. Eventually, Rodriguez picked himself up and took first. The wheel looked fine two batters later when he stole third.
In the meantime, Jon Lester, who walked Kelly Shoppach after pegging Rodriguez, got himself out of a small jam by getting Elliot Johnson to line softly to Kevin Youkilis at third then fanning Desmond Jennings to end the inning. Still, Lester's hit one batter, walked another and has given up a pair of doubles in the first two innings.
Bottom of the first, Rays 1, Red Sox 0: The Sox go down in order on three straight fly balls.
Top of the first, Rays 1, Red Sox 0: Desmond Jennings got the Rays on the board early, leading off with a double, stealing third while Sam Fuld struck out swinging then scoring on an Evan Longoria groundout to third.
The Red Sox will try to get a double-header in with the Rays even though the weather isn't exactly favorable. Right now, Fenway's covered by clouds with a few small drops of rain. Showers are in the forecast for most of the afternoon into the evening. Still, Jon Lester (11-6) is set to take the mound and Desmond Jennings will lead it off for the Rays.
David Ortiz was a last-minute scratch due to illness. Carl Crawford, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Josh Reddick all move up in the order and Jed Lowrie will hit eighth.