Final: Rays 4, Red Sox 2

RAYS WIN GAME, SERIES (12:10, END 14th, 4-2 RAYS)
Just when the Sox seemed to be creating another memory, Jason Bay struck out and Alex Cora flied softly to center. Tampa Bay nows a 2 1/2 game lead in the series, and it has to be feeling an awful lot better about itself right now than, say, 48 hours ago.

ONE DOWN, TWO TO GO (12:05, BOT 14th, 4-2 RAYS
Youkilis flew to deep right, pushing across Ellsbury for the Sox’ second run. Bay is up, men on first and third, one out.

HOLD ON TIGHT (12:02, BOT 14th, 4-1 RAYS)
Tampa Bay closer (opener?) Troy Percival just walked off the mound, yielding to Jason Hammel. The winning run, in the form of Kevin Youkilis, is at the plate with no outs. Ellsbury doubled, Pedroia walked, and Ortiz walked. Wow wow wow.


TIMLIN CAN’T GET IT DONE (11:48, TOP 14th, 4-1, RAYS)
This is harsh, but didn’t it seem like the game came down to a sort of race for the Red Sox — score a run before Mike Timlin had to enter the game? Well, they lost that little game, and now they’re probably going to lose the series.

Bartlett grounded the first pitch Timlin threw to Lowrie at third, and Iwamura roped a single to center. Rocco Baldelli, who has not had what you’d call a good series, lined a hard single to left. John Farrell came out for a chat with Timlin, and whatever he said didn’t help. Carlos Pena hammered a 1-0 to the opposite field, right at the light tower. Timlin then walked Ben Zobrist. Timlin’s ERA is now 6.14.

THE ANSWER (11:39, TOP 14th, 1-1)
Yes. Lopez struck out Gabe Gross to start the 14th, then exited in favor Timlin. He is making his 1,050th relief appearance, the tying the record for relief appearances as a right-handed pitcher.
This is the Sox longest game, innings-wise, since July 9, 2006 against the Chicago White Sox.
SOX GO QUIETLY, QUICKLY IN 13TH (11:35, END 13, 1-1)
Kotsay, Lowrie and Ross all went down against Miller, although Ross hit a liner to center that Perez made a nice sliding catch on.
Lopez is still in the game. Does Francona want Timlin anywhere near the mound at this point?
LOPEZ ESCAPES (11:29, MID 13th, 1-1)
Ben Zobrist led off with a double to right, but the Rays took their turn blowing a would-be game-winning rally. Willy Aybar walked, and then Perez grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. Pretty turn by Cora and Pedroia. Lopez closed the inning by getting Dioneer Navarro to roll one to Youkilis, and he covered first.
It’s been 1-1 for three hours and 35 minutes or so.
Lefty Trevor Miller is the new Tampa pitcher. That’s it for Howell. Miller has 4.38 ERA in 37 innings pitched.
MAKE IT FOUR (11:20, END 12th, 1-1)
Alex Cora very nearly won the game for the Red Sox with a two-out hit and Dustin Pedroia on second base, but his liner to center buzzed directly into Fernando Perez’s glove. The most-recent wasted rally started when Howell hit Pedroia with a pitch in the rear end to lead off the inning. David Ortiz pushed Pedroia to second with a sacrifice bunt against the Rays’ shift, his first sacrifice since 2001, when he was a Minnesota Twin. Kevin Youkilis walked, follwed by a Jason Bay strikeout that brought Cora to the plate.
Four times, the Sox stranded the would-be winning run in scoring position.
Lopez is still in the game. Ben Zobrist, Willy Aybar, and Perez due up.
1-2-3 FOR LOPEZ (11:06, MID 12th, 1-1)
The score has been the same for more than three hours. Lopez struck out Pena on a 91-m.p.h. fastball to bring the Red Sox up in the 12th. J.P. Howell is still pitching for Tampa Bay, and Dustin Pedroia is leading off.
For the third straight inning, the Red Sox put the tying run in scoring position, and for the third straight inning, a Tampa Bay reliever wiggled out of the jam. Ellsbury was the final out again, as he was in the ninth. He blooped to center on a 1-2 pitch from Howell.
The rally started with Mark Kotsay’s one-out single up the middle, Kotsay’s first hit in five at-bats. Jed Lowrie followed with a walk, pushing Kotsay to second and bringing up David Ross, who entered the game in the 10th inning as the third Red Sox catcher. Ross struck out swinging, bringing Ellsbury plateward with two outs.
Delcarmen is done, replaced by Lopez.
Not another 1-2-3 inning for Manny Delcarmen, but close. Gabe Gross shot a two-out double down the third base line, but Delcarmen induced a groundball to second from Bartlett to finish off the 11th. Delcarmen got help from a great play from Lowrie charging in on Fernando Perez’s lead-off bunt attempt.
Okajima, Masterson, and Delcarmen have combined for five innings of shutout, two-hit relief. Alex Cora is pencilled in to lead off the 11th for the Sox, buit he’s a candidate to be pinch hit for. Lefty J.P. Howell is coming in for Tampa.
ALMOST (10:32, END 10th, 1-10)
The Sox had some rally going in the 10th, getting the first two men on base, an 0-2 double from Pedroia and an intentional walk to Ortiz off of submariner Chad Bradford. Kevin Youkilis killed the rally by grounding into a 6-4-3 double play, following by Bay bouncing to short. Bring on the 11th. Manny Delcarmen is still pitching, and Mike Timlin and Javier Lopez are warming in the ‘pen.
1-2-3 FOR DELCARMEN (10:24, MID 10th, 1-1)
The Rays went quietly, including a terriffic, athletic play by Delcarmen. Covering first, he caught a ball at his shins from Youkilis in full sprint, then deftly touched first. Pedroia leads off the 10th.
HERE COMES THE 10TH (10:16, END 9th, 1-1)
We’re going to extras, with Manny Delcarmen now on the mound, after a Red Sox rally fell short when Ellsbury grounded to third with two men on. Ellsbury appeared to beat out Aybar’s oddly lazy throw, and Francona came out to argue; he’s now argued with every ump tonight except home plate umpire Dan Iassonga.
Monday call-up Chris Carter, pinch-hitting, slapped a single to the opposite field, through the left side with two outs to bring Ellsbury to the plate. The rally started with Mike Lowell’s lead-off walk. Francona inserted Alex Cora as a pinch-runner for Lowell.
In the field: Cora at short, Lowrie at third.
MASTERSON ROLLS (10:00, MID 9th, 1-1)
Masterson looked stronger this inning than last, and, with the help of Varitek and Lowrie, he set down the Rays in order. Masterson walked Bartlett to lead off the inning, and Bartlett tried to steal. Varitek fired to Lowrie, who made a really nice scoop of the one-hop throw and a smooth tag. Masterson ended the inning by striking out Baldelli on a 95 m.p.h. fastball.
Masterson has thrown 30 pitches, his higest total since Aug. 10. The most he’s thrown in relief this year is 34, and no one is throwing in the Sox bullpen.
Grant Balfour is in for Tampa Bay, replacing Wheeler.
BAY-WHEELER REDUX? AH, NO. (9:51, END 8th, 1-1)
We’re still tied, but it was close. After Youkilis walked to extend the inning, Bay came to the plate with two outs and one on, facing Wheeler, the very same pitcher whom he clobbered a home run over the Monster off last night. Bay crushed a pitch to center, brining Fenway to its feet, but it died on the warning just to the left of the triangle.
Okajima yielded a lead-off double to Pena, who mashed a ball to right field. Joe Maddon pinch-hit righty Ben Zobrist for lefty Cliff Floyd, and Francona struck with Okajima. Zobrist walked, and that was enough — Francona called on Masterson to face WIlly Aybar with men on first and second.
Aybar chopped to first base and moved the runners over, and then Masterson intentionally walked Fernando Perez. With the bases loaded and one out, Masterson went 2-0 to Dioneer Navarro, then fought back to 2-2. He threw a nasty 84 m.p.h. slider that Navarro put an awful swing on; he nearly fell over, and the ball nearly hit his knee cap. Gabe Gross rolled a grounder to Pedroia next, and the Masterson escaped. Great job in a big spot by Masterson.
Sonnanstine is out. Dan Wheeler is in, facing Pedroia to lead off the eighth.
Coco Crisp entered the game as a pinch-runner for Jason Varitek, who snapped an 0-for-13 streak with a two-out single. Ellsbury followed and again couldn’t deliver, fouling off the first two pitches he saw and then striking out when Sonnastine fired an 88 m.p.h. fastball at the knees.
Sonnanstine also struck out Kotsay and Lowrie looking. Sonnanstine has thrown 94 pitches, and his season high is 108. Two Tampa Bay relievers were throwing in the bullpen when the inning ended; didn’t catch who.
Okajima is still in, and Kevin Cash is the new catcher, replacing Crisp.
OKAJIMA CRUISES (9:09, MID 7th, 1-1)
In 13 pitches, Okajima retired Bartlett, Iwamura and Rocco Baldelli, pinch-hitting for Dan Johnson, in order. Baldelli, who has never faced Okajima, was reading some sort of notes in the dugout before he strode to the on-deck circle, some last-minute scouting, perhaps. It worked, but he got unlucky — his hard line drive was right at Lowell at third. At least he didn’t strike out, which happened four times last night.
After Sonnanstine set down the Sox in order, striking out Mike Lowell and Youkilis, Okajima entered the game. Justin Masterson is now throwing in the bullpen.
Beckett’s line: 6 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K. He threw 84 pitches, 55 strikes.
We’ve been pointing out Ellsbury’s recent offensive struggles tonight, but he just showed why he remains valuable. Aybar led off with a liner to right-center, and Ellsbury sprinted to his right, laid out and made a backhanded, diving catch. It drew a standing ovation.
Beckett allowed one base runner in the inning, a single to Hinske, and has thrown 85 pitches. Hideki Okajima is now warming up.
Also, for Tampa Bay, Fernando Perez has entered the game in center field. Gabe Gross moved to right, and Hinske is out.
Long-time beat writers Jeff Horrigan of the Herald and Steve Krasner of the Providence Journal are both covering their final Red Sox game tonight, and the Sox honored them on the scoreboard between innings, wishing them best of luck in the future. Nice touch. Extra Bases joins the Red Sox in wishing two great guys nothing but the best.
Red Sox p.r. officials celebrated the occasion by bringing two cakes, one for each, to the press box. “Are you guys gonna be feeding the cake to each other?” Nick Cafardo quipped.
And also, David Ortiz just ended the fifth inning by bouncing to second, right into the shift. He’s 0 for 3, and he stranded two runners — Jed Lowrie (two hits tonight) on third and Pedroia (hit by pitch) on first. Ellsbury made another out, too. He is 4 for his last 25.
Beckett got himself into a first-and-third jam with two outs after he walked Johnson, his first walk of the night. Then he went 2-0 on Carlos Pena, and then 3-1. Pena dribbled a cutter foul, setting Beckett’s biggest of the night. The crowd roaring (but still sitting down), Pena stepped out. He stepped back in. The crowd grew louder. Pena fouled off a fastball that hit 95 on the Fenway Park radar, the fastest I recall seeing tonight.
Again. Beckett beamed another 95, and Pena watched it fly by just about his letters. He walked to first; Beckett pursed his lips. Bases loaded.
Cliff Floyd came up, and Beckett started him with two more balls. Floyd foul off a fastball, then flew a can of corn out to Kotsay in left. Beckett escaped, but not without a bit of wear. Beckett needed 22 pitches to get through that inning and has now thrown 73. He threw. No action yet in the Sox bullpen, but Beckett may have only one inning left in him.
MORE SOX-RAYS BAD BLOOD? (8:22, END 4th, 1-1)
Well, no. Sonnanstine hit Youkilis to lead off the inning, but it was with a 74 m.p.h. curveball. Probably no maliciousness there. Jason Bay followed with a grounder to short, and Bartlett flipped to Iwamura. Youkilis slid in hard and knocked Iwamura backward. The two exchanged pats on the back, so, again, no maliciousness.
Iwamura did drop the ball, but the umps ruled it was on the transfer and Youkilis was called out. Francona came out to argue the call, or at least get an explanation. “He is getting a lot of exercise,” Amalie Benjamin said.
BecKKKKKKet (8:15, MID 4th, 1-1)
Josh Beckett just struck out the side for the second straight inning. The final pitch of the inning might have been the most impressive: Beckett froze Hinske with a 93 fastball that grazed the inside corner on a full count. fastball Again, the Rays sandwiched a hit in there, a single by Aybar. Beckett continues to pummel the strike zone — through four, he’s thrown 39 of his 51 for strikes, a 76-percent clip.
Pedroia came to bat with two outs and Jed Lowrie on third base. He ripped Sonnanstine’s 3-2, 90 m.p.h. fastball into the left field corner, scoring Lowrie. Pedroia’s double was his 46th of the season, breaking the team record for a second baseman set by Jody Reed in 1990.
Lowrie got the first Red Sox hit when he lined one past Pena’s glove at first. He reached second when Iwamura botched the flip to second after fielding Jason Varitek’s groundball to second, but Jacoby Ellsbury stifled the burgeoning rally by grounding into a 4-6-3 double play. Ellsbury is 4 for his last 24 (.167).
BecKKKet (7:51, MID 3d, 1-0 RAYS)
Iwamura rocked a one-out double off the base of the MasterCard ad on the right field wall, but Beckett cruised through by striking out the side — Bartlett on a 76 m.p.h. curve, Johnson on a 94 m.p.h. fastball and Pena on a 75 m.p.h. curve.
Beckett has thrown 35 pitches, 27 for strikes. He’s probably going to be limited to roughly 90 pitches tonight, so his efficiency could be a boon, especially since the Sox have Jonathan Papelbonless bullpen tonight.
Strange call in an inning in which the Sox put none on base. Mike Lowell flied to left, right down the line and pretty shallow. and Dan Johnson slid toward the wall and immediately pointed to the crowd — a fan had reached over the wall and batted the ball away, trying to catch it. Third-base umpire Mark Wegner thrust his fist in the air: Lowell was called out for fan interference. There was no question the fan interfered. Assuming Johnson, who was sliding on his backside toward the fence, would catch the ball was highly dubious.
Terry Francona charged out of the dugout and ran all the way to left field to argue with Wegner. Umps convened, and then gave Francona word they had not changed their mind. Francona swung his arm and pointed at and yelled at Wegner again, and he probably came real close to getting ejected.
Francona went back to the dugout. The fan who reached over left with security.
Floyd reached on a lightly hit bounding ball up the middle that caught the lip of the infield grass and shot away from Pedroia. Willy Aybar followed and blasted a curving liner to right, over Mark Kotsay’s head and into the corner. Aybar wound up with a triple, aided by Kotsay overthrowing Pedroia, the cut-off man, and forcing Kevin Youkilis to scamper over and make the relay throw.
Beckett stranded Aybar by striking out Eric Hinske on a splitter, then inducing groundball outs from Dioneer Navarro and Gabe Gross. If the game is close at the end, that’s a big opportunity squandered by Tampa Bay and a nice job in a big spot by Beckett, who has thrown 17 pitches, 16 strikes. He didn’t throw a ball in the second inning.
NOTHIN’ DOIN’ (7:21, END 1st, 0-0)
Andy Sonnanstine got through the first easily as well, allowing one base runner and throwing 17 pitches. He struck out David Ortiz with a slo-o-ow curve, and he’s throwing his slider in the high 70s.
Dustin Pedroia reached when Jason Bartlett’s throw from deep in the hole forced Eric Hinske to leap off the first base bag. Pedroia made him rush by bolting down the line and sliding in head first. Scoring it an error, not a hit, was a tough scoring call, and it won’t help Pedroia’s quest to reach 200 hits. (He’s at 194 now, so it’s still looking pretty good.) As we saw not long ago with CC Sabathia’s near no-hitter, you often want to make the first hit of the game a clean one.
Anyone arriving late just missed the top of the first inning. Josh Beckett needed only five pitches to retire Akinori Iwamura, Dan Johnson, and Carlos Pena, and none of them even came close to a hit. They went one-hopper to Becket, shallow pop to left, pop to foul ground on the third base side. Very dominant. Beckett threw his fastball in the 93-94 miles per hour range, the same as his last start in Texas.

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