After winning Wednesday night's game 3-0, the Boston Red Sox closed out their road trip on a very positive note, defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2 in the rubber matchup of the series. With this series victory, the Red Sox have won four consecutive series, three of which have come against A.L. East foes. The Red Sox have great pitching to thank for their two most recent victories.
On the mound for the Red Sox tonight was Clay Buchholz, who was looking for victory number six on the season. While he didn't quite match Josh Beckett's excellent outing yesterday, he may have come pretty close given the opportunity. In five innings of work (injury shortened), Clay gave up only one earned run on two total hits while walking three and fanning five Rays hitters. The lone run charged came in the second inning, when Buchholz surrendered a two-out RBI double to Sam Fuld to left field, scoring B.J. Upton.
Despite his stellar performance tonight, he was forced to exit the game early after the fifth inning with what the Red Sox are calling lower back tightness. Buchholz has battled back trouble over the last few weeks and it caused him to miss a start last week. Hopefully he will be a go for his next scheduled start on Tuesday against the Padres.
Buchholz was replaced by Alfredo Aceves, who came on in the sixth inning and pitched nearly until the eighth inning. While he did produce results, recording five outs, the other run in the ball game was charged to Aceves, after he gave up a two-out solo home run to former Red Sox Casey Kotchman.
Thanks to a great pitching performance tonight from Buchholz and the pen, the offense didn't have to do much, as Rays starter David Price was challenged early on.
After loading the bases in the top of the first, Price walked David Ortiz to bring in Dustin Pedroia from third. The Sox got to Price again in the second inning, when Darnell McDonald connected on an RBI single that brought in Jarrod Saltalamacchia from second base. Pedroia then got back in the action with an RBI double that scored McDonald from second himself.
Then in the top of the ninth when the Rays had cut the lead to 3-2, Adrian Gonzalez added an insurance run, taking a two-out pitch from Kyle Farnsworth and planting it into the right field seats for his fourteenth home run of the year.
This was enough for Jonathan Papelbon to shut the door in the ninth. While he did make it interesting with two on and no one else, Papelbon got Elliot Johnson to pop out on a bunt attempt with Kevin Youkilis making a terrific diving play, and struck out both Justin Ruggiano and Sean Rodriguez to end the game. Final score: 4-2, Sawx.
Boston did however lose their starting shortstop Jed Lowrie to injury after just one AB. Lowrie was taken out because of shoulder trouble that has been bothering him for nearly the past month. As Tim Britton reported earlier,Drew Sutton was pulled from his game in AAA Pawtucket and is on his way back to Boston, which means Lowrie is likely DL-bound. With Marco Scutaro hitting so well, Lowrie going to the D.L. can be viewed as good thing as he is clearly in pain and in need of time off. Kevin Youkilis also seemed to tweak his ankle in the process of catching a foul ball.