SAITO CLOSES IT OUT (10:34, END 9, 10-6 SOX)
Takashi Saito allowed the Rays a run in the ninth, but he held on to finish off the game. He gave up a leadoff single to Carl Crawford, but came back strike out Longoria and induce a ground out from Pena. Burrell shot a single into right-center to score Crawford, who had taken second without a throw and moved to thrid on Pena’s ground out. Zobrist struck out to end it.
The Red Sox stopped the Rays mini-surge and finally won a game at Tropicana Field, snapping a 1-10 streak at the park. Shortstop Nick Green went 3 for 5 with three RBIs, and Kevin Youkilis also drove in three runs with a double and a bases-loaded walk. It wasn’t pretty, but Tim Wakefield earned the win by allowing five runs in five-plus innings.
The seriousness of Jason Bay’s injury remains in question, and we’ll try to provide a post-game update.
RAMIREZ STILL PERFECT (10:12, END 8, 10-5 SOX)
Ramirez has not allowed an earned run in 14 1/3 innings, the most innings thrown by any pitcher in the majors without allowing an earned runs. Kapler popped to third, Navarro popped foul to Youkilis, and Upton lashed a ball to left-center that Ellsbury ran down on the warning track. Three more outs for the Sox to snap their three-losses-in-four-games skid.
RAMIREZ IN (10:07, MID 8, 10-5 SOX)
After the Sox went down in order, Ramon Ramirez has entered to pitch the eighth.
OKAJIMA GOES TWO (9:59, END 7, 10-5 SOX)
Okajima got through his second inning. He gave up a pair of singles, but he stranded Rays on first and third to keep the game securely in the Red Sox’ hands.
DREW LEAVES BASES LOADED (9:47, MID 7, 10-5 SOX)
Drew flied to center, leaving three men on. As good as the Red Sox offense has been tonight, it’s also left 10 men on base in seven innings.
YOUKILIS WALKS ONE IN (9:45, TOP 7, 10-5 SOX)
Youkilis walked on a 3-2 pitch, walking in Nick Green and chasing Shouse. Joe Nelson is on to face Drew with the bases still loaded.
SOX LOAD ‘EM UP (9:41, TOP 7, 9-5 SOX)
Kottaras struck out, but Green doubled down the first base line. Ellsbury moved Green to third with a swinging bunt. The Rays intentionally walked Pedroia to pitch to Ortiz. Shouse is holding lefthanders to a .154 batting average this year and to a .210 mark for his career, but walking anyone to get to Ortiz still seems strange and probably speaks to Ortiz’s struggles this season. The backfired when Shouse plunked Ortiz on a 3-2 count. Here comes Youkilis with the bases loaded again and two outs.
LOWELL LOSES ONE (9:34, TOP 7, 9-5 SOX)
Lowell gave the Sox some additional breathing room with a leadoff home run, a no-doubter high and deep to left. That’s Lowell’s fifth homer of the year, which ties for the team lead, and it extends his team-leading RBI total to 24.
RAYS THREATEN, FADE (9:30, END 6, 8-5 SOX)
Okajima kept the Sox in control by squirming out of a jam. Kapler singled to left, and Navarro moved Iwamura and Kapler into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt back to Okajima. Upton worked a full count, but Okajima got a huge out when he popped up the 3-2 pitch to Youkilis in foul territory. Crawford followed by striking out flailing at an 82-mph slider low and outside.
BAY’S ANKLE HURT (9:19, BOT 6, 8-5 SOX)
Bay left the game with a left ankle contustion. It’s not clear how Bay suffered the contusion, which is basically a bad bruise. Bailey remains in the game in leftfield.
Also, after Iwamura led off the sixth with a single, Wakefield’s night is over. Here comes Hideki Okajima.
SOX STRAND TWO (9:14, MID 6, 8-5 SOX)
The Red Sox took command of the game back with Youkilis’s double, but they could have just about put it away. Instead, after having two runners in scoring position with one out, Drew struck out in a tough matchup for him against Shouse, and Bailey flared into shallow right to Iwamura.
YOUKILIS COMES THROUGH (9:12, TOP 6, 8-5 SOX)
With two strikes on him from Shouse, a sidearming lefty, Youkilis laced a double down the leftfield line, plating Ellsbury and Pedroia and moving Ortiz to third. Drew is up with two men in scoring position. Jeff Bailey is on deck to hit for Bay, but there is no word why Bay isn’t in the game any longer.
ORTIZ EARNS WALK (9:06, TOP 6, 6-5 SOX)
Ortiz worked a full count, then fouled off a pitch on a laser down the rightfield line into the stands. He fouled off another deep into the stands on the third base side, then another in the same spot, and then another. On the 10th pitch of the at-bat, Ortiz took a 92-mph fastball that nearly hit his feet for ball four. Youkilis is now up with the bases, and manager Joe Maddon has called on Ryan Shouse to replace Balfour with the bases loaded and one out.
BIG CHANCE FOR BIG PAPI (9:00, TOP 6, 6-5 SOX)
Green struck out swining at a 91-mph fastball. Ellsbury ripped a ball back at Balfour, which bounced off his leg and dribbled toward third base, allowing him an easy infield single. Ellsbury stole second on the third pitch to Pedroia, sliding in headfirst. He’s got 12 steals for the year, which leads the majors. On a 2-2 pitch, Ellsbury added to his lead by stealing third feet-first. Then Pedroia walked. Here comes Ortiz — two men on, one out, the Sox up a run.
WAKEFIELD KEEPS SOX IN FRONT — BARELY (8:51, END 5, 6-5 SOX)
Hunter Jones started warming up while Zobrist was at bat, but Wakefield struck him out to keep the Red Sox in the lead. With Wakefield’s performance, the Red Sox have made a full trip through the starting rotation without one pitcher allowing fewer than five runs.
Grant Balfour is in for Cormier, who did well to keep the Rays in the game after Niemann’s rough start.
RAYS KEEP RALLY GOING (8:47, BOT 5, 6-5 SOX)
Pena walked, and Burrell followed with a double down the left field line that plated Longoria. Two men in scoring position for Zobrist with one out.
LONGORIA STRIKES AGAIN (8:45, BOT 5, 6-4 SOX)
Control problems and Longoria, the man no Red Sox pitcher can get out, doomed Wakefield. Kapler struck out flailing at a knuckler, and then Wakefield got a little wild. He hit Navarro with a pitch that would have been ball four, anyway, and then Upton walked behind him. With Crawford up, a passed ball on Kottaras moved the runners to second and third with one out. Crawford popped up to Lowell.
With the inning building tension, a scary moment stopped the action. Longoria took a vicious swing on a 1-0 pitch, and he his wild followthrough hit Kottaras in the side of the head, knocking his mask off. Lessard and Francona came out to check on him. Wakefield threw him a warm-up pitch, and Kottaras nodded to them that he was OK.
On the next pitch pitch, Longoria ripped a two-run single into left field. Longoria now has nine RBIs this series. Pena, who hit an RBI single and a home run in his first two at-bats, is up now.
FAST ONE FOR CORMIER (8:33, MID 5, 6-2 SOX)
Bay lined to center to lead off the inning. Lowell drove a deep fly ball to center, but Upton chased it down and made an over-the-shoulder basket catch at the warning track. Kottaras grounded out to second.
WAKEFIELD RECOVERS (8:28, END 4, 6-2 SOX)
Wakefield retired the side in order after Pena’s bomb, getting Zobrist to fly deep to left and Iwamura to ground to Green at short.
RAYS CREEP BACK (8:25, BOT 4, 6-2 SOX)
Pena nailed a solo home run on a 57-mph curveball from Wakefield, who tried to surprise Pena on a 3-2 count. Burrell struck out to follow Pena swinging through a knuckler. One out, none on.
SCARE FOR PEDROIA (8:21, TOP 4, 6-1 SOX)
Pedroia flared a ground-rule double into the rightfield corner to lead off the inning, and he tagged up on Ortiz’s long fly to left. Pedroia bolted for third and just beat Crawford’s throw. He immediately grabbed his lower body, brining Terry Francona and trainer Paul Lessard out of the dugout. Pedroia appeared to be in serious pain, on all fours, but it turned out not to be an actual injury. Let’s just say the ball had hit Pedroia in a place that made Francona chuckle before he walked back into the dugout.
Pedroia remained at third — Youkilis grounded out to Longoria, and Drew struck out again.
WAKE UP (8:14, END 3, 6-1)
For the fourth straight game, Wakefield bailing out the Sox so far. Navarro bounced back to Wakefield. Upton grounded to third. Crawford lined a single to left on the first pitch he saw. He stole second without a throw on the second pitch Wakefield threw Longoria. Green caught Longoria’s pop-up, but it was an adventure. Pedroia tried to grab it, but he fell backwards into Green’s shins, knocking Green to his back after Green squeezed the ball. Anyway, Wakefield cruised through his third inning.
Niemann has left the game after only three innings and allowing six runs on seven hits. Cormier has replaced him.
SOX STRAND A PAIR (8:06, MID 3, 6-1)
The Sox picked up another run, but they also stranded two runners when Ellsbury struck out swinging to end the inning. Niemann has thrown 76 pitches, so at the very least the Red Sox will test the depth of the Rays bullpen at some point.
GREEN DAY (8:02, TOP 3, 6-1 SOX)
Green is now 2 for 2, and both hits drove in runs. Drew struck out swinging at an inside fastball to start the inning. Bay reached on an infield single, a chopper to Ben Zobrist at short. Bay stole second on the second pitch to Lowell, another example of Niemann’s inefficient delivery when in the stretch. He moved to third on a wild pitch after Lowell flied to center. Kottaras walked, and then Green delivered his second big hit of the game, smacking a line-drive single into right-center that scored Bay. Ellsbury is up now.
YOUKILIS Ds UP (7:50, END 2, 5-1 SOX)
Wakefield enjoyed a quick second thanks to Youkilis’s Gold Glove-caliber defense. Youkilis made a diving play on Zobrist’s grounder down the first base line, then flipped to Wakefield for the out. Youkilis followed that with another nice play, ranging far to his right to field Iwamura’s chopper. Kapler, who is still going with the high socks, struck out swinging at a Wakefield knuckleball.
NIEMANN ESCAPES QUICK HOOK (7:45, MID 2, 5-1 SOX)
After watching a number of their own starters make early exits, the Red Sox seemed on the verge of doing the same to Niemann. Ortiz walked, bringing Youkilis to the plate with two men on and one out. Lance Cormier started warming in the Rays bullpen. But then Youkilis to chopped to third, and Longoria stepped on the bag then fired across the diamond for a double play. Despite the quick ending, the Sox still hold a four-run lead.
SOX ADD ANOTHER (7:39, TOP 2, 5-1 SOX)
The Red Sox are making it a tough night for Niemann. Iwamura couldn’t handle Ellsbury’s slow chopper to second, and his bobble was ruled an error. Ellsbury stole second off of Niemann, whose 6-foot-9 frame makes it nearly impossible for him to deliver pitches to the plate with any speed. Pedroia rolled a single through the left side. The throw came home and deflected off Ellsbury as he slid in safely, allowing Pedroia to make second.
RED SOX RALLY (7:36, TOP 2, 4-1 SOX)
Mike Lowell led off with a single up the middle, and George Kottaras followed by belting a double over Gabe Kapler’s head in right. Nick Green ripped a grounder up the middle, and when Akinori Iwamura dived for the ball and deflected into shallow center, Kottaras raced around from second to score two runs. Green attempted to steal second on the first pitch to Jacoby Ellsbury, but he tripped and slid head first halfway to second. One out, none on.
SOX STRIKE FIRST, RAYS STRIKE BACK (7:29, END 1, 2-1 SOX)
J.D. Drew gave the Red Sox a 2-0 lead with a two-run, two-out double. Dustin Pedroia walked, David Ortiz popped up, and Rays starter Jeff Niemann hit Kevin Youkilis with a pitch. Drew socked the double high and deep to right, scoring both runners.
Tim Wakefield made it stand, but just barely thanks to a two-out Rays rally. Wakefield struck out B.J. Upton and induced a grounder to first from Carl Crawford. No Red Sox pitchers can get Evan Longoria out lately — he pounded a double high off the rightfield fence, inches from both a home run the glove of leaping Drew. Carlos Pena flared a single into right, scoring Longoria. Pat Burrell ended the inning with a grounder to short.