Tampa Bay uses three home runs early to beat the Red Sox, but a late bench-clearing incident will be talked about the most following the game. In the bottom of the ninth, Aviles popped out to Rodriguez, Pedroia struck out swinging, and Ortiz lined out softly to Sutton to end the game. Time to go see what the combatants have to say.
Middle of 9th: Rays 7, Red Sox 4: The benches and bullpens empty after Red Sox reliever Franklin Morales plunks Luke Scott with a pitch after the first two had been retired. Retaliation for Pedroia getting hit? Mindful of Scott's anti-Fenway comments? Scott took a few steps toward Morales before Saltalamacchia intervened. Things escalated from there, with a large scrum hanging around the home-plate area. Closer Fernando Rodney coming in for the Rays. We'll see if anything else happens.
End of 8th: Rays 7, Red Sox 4: Joel Peralta on for the Rays, and he gets Nava to pop out to second, then strikes out Byrd and Podsednik, both swinging. We go to the ninth. Top of the order coming up for both teams.
Middle of 8th: Rays 7, Red Sox 4: Matt Albers came on for Atchison (three innings, two hits, no runs) and retired the Rays in order for the third time tonight. Sutton lined out to Byrd in right, Gimenez grounded out to Aviles -- who went deep to the hole toward third, and one-hopped a throw that Gonzalez scooped out at first -- and Johnson lined out to left.
End of 7th: Rays 7, Red Sox 4: Red Sox go in order: Gonzalez grounds out to second, Youkilis pops out to second (on the 14th pitch of a great at-bat), and Saltalamacchia lines out to second.
Middle of 7th: Rays 7, Red Sox 4: Atchison wraps up his third inning of work, putting two Rays on but not allowing a run in the seventh. Upton singled, and eventually stole second. Scott flew out to left, Zobrist popped out to short, and after an intentional walk to Joyce, Rodriguez bounced back to Atchison, who flipped to Gonzalez to retire the side. Getting the sense the Sox have a comeback in them?
End of 6th: Rays 7, Red Sox 4: Red Sox claw a little closer, getting a pair of runs on two walks, one hit, a sacrifice bunt, and a sacrifice fly. J.P. Howell came on in relief of Cobb and promptly walked Saltalamacchia and Nava. On came Burke Badenhop in relief, who gave up a first-pitch single to Byrd, which scored Saltalamacchia. Podsednik bunted successfully, moving Nava to third and Byrd to second. Aviles then hit a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Nava. Pedroia was hit by a Badenhop pitch, bringing on the third Rays pitcher of the inning, Jake McGee. Facing the tying run in Ortiz, McGee got Big Papi to fly out to right field.
Middle of 6th: Rays 7, Red Sox 2: Sutton led off with a single and took second when Byrd committed an error in right field. Gimenez struck out swinging, then Johnson was cut down on a broken-bat grounder to Pedroia, who threw to Atchison covering first. Pena was caught looking to end the inning.
End of 5th: Rays 7, Red Sox 2: The Sox cut into the lead, getting a run-scoring double from Gonzalez after Podsednik singled and Ortiz doubled. In between those two reaching base, Aviles grounded out to third, and Pedroia lined to third. Following Gonzalez's double, which sent Ortiz to third and left two runners in scoring position, Cobb got Youkilis to ground to third.
Middle of 5th: Rays 7, Red Sox 1: Scott Atchison replaced Lester, who allowed six hits, seven runs (all earned), and three home runs in his four innings of work. Atchison walked Zobrist, but retired Joyce on a flyout, and got Rodriguez to hit into a double play.
End of 4th: Rays 7, Red Sox 1: Youkilis lined out to center, Saltalamacchia walked, moved to second on a wild pitch, but was stranded there when Nava struck out looking and Byrd grounded out to second.
Middle of 4th: Rays 7, Red Sox 1: Two more home runs -- a two-run blast by Johnson, a solo shot by Pena -- adds to Tampa Bay's lead. Sutton singled, but was erased on a forceout, with Gimenez reaching first. Johnson then followed with his third home run, into the Monster seats, and Pena took advantage of the short distance down the right-field line. Byrd gave chase and jumped for it, but it appeared to be a row or two into the seats. Upton popped out to Aviles, and Scott grounded out to Pedroia.
End of 3rd: Rays 4, Red Sox 1: Red Sox go in order for the first time tonight. Pedroia grounds to third, and then the shift claims Ortiz and Gonzalez. Ortiz lined out to second baseman Rodriguez, who was playing in short right field, and Gonzalez grounded out to third baseman Sutton, who was a few steps left of the second-base bag. Cobb seems to be settling down a bit.
Middle of 3rd, Rays 4, Red Sox 1: After Lester loaded the bases with two walks and a base hit, Joyce cleared the bases with a two-out grand slam, the fourth of his career. Elliot Johnson grounded out to short to open the inning, Pena reached on a walk, then went to third on a bloop single by Upton. Scott struck out and Zobrist walked, bringing up Joyce, who launched a 3-1 pitch from Lester into the Sox bullpen. Rodriguez struck out, but the damage had been done.
End of 2nd, Red Sox 1, Rays 0: Not much from the Sox, despite a one-out walk to Marlon Byrd. Daniel Nava opened with a flyout to right, and after Byrd reached, Scott Podsednik hit into a force play (shortstop to second), then Aviles flew out to center.
Middle of 2nd, Red Sox 1, Rays 0: Tampa Bay puts two runners on, but Lester works out of a two-out jam. Ben Zobrist struck out swinging, then Joyce lofted a single into left field. Sean Rodriguez hit a liner that Youkilis caught at third, and Sutton worked a walk. Lester gets out of the inning when Gimenez grounds into a force play, Youkilis to Pedroia.
End of 1st: Red Sox 1, Rays 0: An error, a walk, and a hit put the Sox in front against Cobb, a Boston native. Mike Aviles led off with a shot toward third baseman Drew Sutton, who couldn't handle it and was charged with an error. After Dustin Pedroia fouled out to catcher Chris Gimenez, David Ortiz walked, moving Aviles to second. Adrian Gonzalez lined out to Matt Joyce in left field, but Kevin Youkilis lined a 2-2 pitch cleanly into center, scoring Aviles with an unearned run. Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out to end the inning.
Middle of 1st: Rays 0, Red Sox 0: Lester needs just eight pitches to dispatch the Rays. Carlos Pena bounced to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who underhanded to Lester for the out. B.J. Upton lined the first pitch hard to center, where Scott Podsednik had him played perfectly and barely took a step back. Luke Scott, greeted with boos (remember his unflattering comments about Fenway during Tampa Bay's last visit?) struck out looking.
Pregame: Greetings from Fenway Park on a very comfortable night for baseball. The Red Sox open a three-game series with Tampa Bay, trying for the third time to inch above .500. At 22-22, the Sox are 5 1/2 games behind Baltimore in the AL East. The Rays (27-18) trail the Orioles by one game. Jon Lester (3-3, 3.95 ERA) takes the bump for Boston. He'll be opposed by Alex Cobb (1-0, 2.57).