Final: Red Sox 6, Rays 2: The Sox rebounded from a poor offensive showing on Monday night to defeat the Rays in Game 2 of this four-game set. With the win, Boston builds its AL East lead back up to 1.5 games.
The big story was pitching as Jon Lester produced a solid, eight-strikeout outing and relievers pitched a shutout from there. Thanks for following along and be sure to check tomorrow's Globe for full coverage.
Bottom of the 8th, Red Sox 6, Rays 2:The Sox offense breaks out. A two-out RBI single by Drew gives the Sox an insurance run and then Iglesias breaks out of his personal slump with -- what else? -- an infield hit. That accounts for two RBIs as Koji Uehara will get a four run lead as he enters in the ninth.
Drew aggressively went from second to the plate on Iggy's hit.
Top of the 8th, Red Sox 3, Rays 2:Jonny Gomes replaces Carp in left field to begin the inning. On the mound, Tazawa retires the Rays in order, including back-to-back strikeouts (Zobrist and Longoria) and a groundout from Myers.
Bottom of the 7th, Red Sox 3, Rays 2: Victorino pops out, Nava flies out, Pedroia grounds out and the Sox offense remains stagnant.
Top of the 7th, Red Sox 3, Rays 2: Lester gets Loney to line out before surrendering a double to Molina. That will be Lester's final batter of the evening as Matt Thornton is called in from the bullpen. Lester gets a loud applause as he walks to the dugout. A very solid outing -- his best in a while. His final line: 6.1 IP, 2 ER, 7 H, 0 BB and 8 K. The eight strikeouts match a season-high.
Thonton comes in for just one batter, gets him to groundout, and Farrell brings in Junichi Tazawa. Tazawa is extremely effective -- a three-pitch strikeout to Jennings to end the inning.
Bottom of the 6th, Red Sox 3, Rays 2: Hernandez's night is done. Lefty Alex Torres comes in from the bullpen, and opens up the inning by striking out Carp. Satalamacchia singles, but is stranded on first after Drew strikes out and Iglesias flies out.
Top of the 6th, Red Sox 3, Rays 2:Just as Lester looked like he was finding his groove, he let up another leadoff home run. This one to Longoria, on a 1-0 pitch. Lester escapes the rest of the inning unscathed. He's at only 90 pitches through six, so should be good for the seventh.
Bottom of the 5th, Red Sox 3, Rays 1: Just as Hernandez's pitch count reaches 80, it appears there is some activity in the Rays' bullpen. That happens sometime in Victorino's at bat, which culminates in a ground out. Up next, Nava doubles off the Green Monster, then steals third on a wild pitch. Pedroia scores Nava on a sac fly. Ortiz singles but Napoli grounds out to end the inning. Hernandez finished the inning, but not sure if he'll make it out for the sixth.
Top of the 5th, Red Sox 2, Rays 1: Another strikeout for Lester. The latest victim is Molina to open the fifth. Rodriguez singles. Jennings works a long at bat (eight pitches) before striking out swinging on a 94 mile per hour fastball. Zobrist falls behind 0-2 in the count and flies out to end the inning.
Bottom of the 4th, Red Sox 2, Rays 1: Carp strikes out. Saltalamacchia doubles but the next two batters retire to keep the Sox off the board.
Top of the 4th, Red Sox 2, Rays 1:Lester surrenders a leadoff double to Myers, offensive star of the game (so far). Joyce strikes out. Escobar flies out, allowing Myers to tag up at third. With two outs, Loney strikes out by checking his swing on a 79 mile per hour curve ball. That ups Lester's strikeout total to six and his pitch count to 59 through four.
Bottom of the 3rd, Red Sox 2, Rays 1:Leadoff double for Victorino, who has now hit in 18 of his last 24 games. Nava flies out to deep center field, allowing Victorino to tag up at third. Pedroia takes a nasty pitch to his back -- not pretty -- prompting a team visit to the mound to talk to Hernandez. Pedroia's injury doesn't seem serious.
With Ortiz at the plate, Pedoria steals second. An errant throw by Molina allows Victorino to score. Ortiz grounds out, moving Pedroia to third. Inning ends as Napoli grounds out, too. Hernandez's pitch count has reached 65.
Top of the 3rd: Rays 1, Red Sox 1:Sean Rodriguez grounds out and Desmond Jennings singles. Then Ben Zobrist, who tallied three hits last night, strikes out swinging -- the fourth strikeout for Lester tonight. Evan Longoria grounds out to end the inning.
Bottom of the 2nd, Rays 1, Red Sox 1:A leadoff single for David Ortiz. Napoli follows it up by ripping a hit to left field. The courageous Ortiz tries to take two bases -- he is not very close, tagged out at third by at least two steps. Mike Carp singles to right field, which scores Napoli and ties the game. Jarrod Saltalamacchia walks, but Stephen Drew flies out and Jose Iglesias grounds out to end the inning.
Four batters on base, yet only one run. Hernandez's pitch count is up to 47.
Top of the 2nd, Rays 1, Red Sox 0: Hotshot rookie Wil Myers, who made his Major League debut here at Fenway a few weeks ago, took the first pitch he saw to lead off the second. Home run into the Monster seats. Lester has now allowed 12 homers in his last 67 innings.
The lefty retires Matt Joyce and Yunel Escobar before James Loney singles. Jose Molina strikes out to end the inning. Myers' homer is the only damage.
Bottom of the 1st, Rays 0, Red Sox 0:Shane Victorino leads off as Jacoby Ellsbury is taking the night off. Victorino works an 11 pitch at-bat, but flies out. Daniel Nava takes eight pitches before grounding out. Then comes Dustin Pedroia, whose first-inning cheers sound extra loud tonight -- maybe some pregame news had something to do with that? The second baseman grounds out, too. In total, Hernandez threw 22 pitches. No hits for either team.
Top of the 1st, Rays 0, Red Sox 0: Lester is trying to get back on track and this is a pretty big start. It won't be easy against the Rays. A good stat of note: Tampa Bay is 20-10 this season against when the opposition starts a lefty. The Rays are hitting a Major League-best .288 against left-handed pitchers. The next best average? The Giants at .265.
But Lester is off to a good start. A 1-2-3 first inning, including two strikeouts. Only needed 14 pitches -- nine were strikes.
Pregame: The tarp came on, the tarp came off, the tarp came on again. With ominous clouds -- and occasional thunderstorms -- the status of this game seemed dubious all day. But nearing first pitch (scheduled for 7:10 p.m.), looks like things have cleared up. We should be good to go for game two of this critical series between the AL East's top two teams.
Emily Kaplan here and I'll be providing updates throughout the game. The Rays won the opener, 3-0, last night to climb within 1/2 games of the Red Sox for first place. Tampa Bay has won 18 of its last 20 games, including the last six straight. The 182 run is the best 20-game stretch by an AL team since 2006.
It's up to Jon Lester (8-6, 4.58 ERA) to stop the scorching Rays. Lester, whose start was pushed back for some extra rest following the All Star break, is 2-6 with a 6.27 ERA in his last 11 starts. Remember, he began the season 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA over nine starts.
Righty Roberto Hernandez (5-10, 4.90 ERA) will start for the Rays.
Stay tuned and, as always, comment below.