The Red Sox snapped a three-game losing streak Wednesday night with an 9-2 victory over the Rays powered by a big third inning.
Apparently, having Jon Lester on the mound brings out the best in the Red Sox. Boston's lineup looked dangerous in the first two innings, with both Dustin Pedroia and Will Middlebrooks driving doubles into the gaps and only a line drive out from David Ortiz keeping them off the board.
In the third inning, there would be no lucky escapes for the Rays. Stephen Drew would start the inning right with a walk off of David Price, and while Jacoby Ellsbury's ground ball to second looked for a second like it might be perfectly placed to smother the rally before it really started, but Ryan Roberts' diving attempt came up just short, and the Sox had their first two men on base.
While Shane Victorino would not be able to cash in, Dustin Pedroia was quick to collect his second hit of the night, driving in Boston's first run with a line drive to right. David Ortiz followed with a rare ground ball to the left side of the infield which predictably found its way into the outfield to bring home another. And then...out came the Tampa Bay trainers, and just like that, David Price was gone from the game with a tight triceps.
The Red Sox, having been given a reprieve from Price, did not waste their opportunity. Mike Napoli took reliever Jamey Wright's second pitch of the game to right field for an RBI double, and Jonny Gomes slapped a single back up the middle to score a fourth run. While the game was still perhaps in reach at that point, Jarrod Saltalamacchia drew a walk, and Stephen Drew finished the inning he himself had started with a bang, golfing a 1-1 cutter into the seats in right for a grand slam that left the Sox ahead 8-0.
Jon Lester would not provide the sort of lockdown inning teams are hoping for after getting a lead, but if the two runs he allowed in the third gave the Rays some hope, Lester left them sorely disappointed in the innings to come. The Rays would pick up a few hits in the next four frames, but when Lester's night ended after the seventh, the score was still 8-2. Will Middlebrooks tacked on a ninth Red Sox run with a solo shot to right for good measure, and Koji Uehara and Jose De La Torre shut the door to put the Red Sox back in the win column.
One win is just one win, even a commanding one like the Red Sox managed tonight. The Red Sox will need to string a few together before the freefall can be considered over. Any streak must start with a single win, however, and tonight they did all that they could.
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