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Wild Lester, Bullpen 1-Hit Rays, Clinch Series Win

When you walk 5 guys in 6 innings, you'd better not be giving up a ton of hits. Jon Lester did not. Holding the Rays to just 1-hit, Lester, Manny Delcarmen, Daniel Bard, and Jonathan Papelbon shut out the Rays to win a series-clinching game 2 in Tampa.

Though Lester was wild, he didn't let too many Rays put the ball in play, either. 5 groundouts, 4 flyouts, and a single by Willy Aybar in the 4th was all they managed, as Lester recorded 9 strikeouts during his relatively short outing. Manny Delcarmen provided a clean 7th inning to get the Sox to the strong back end of their bullpen which proved up to the task, closing out the game while allowing only 1 walk (from Papelbon) and striking out 2.

While the Red Sox' offense was also relatively dead, managing only 4 hits, they managed to push across 2 more runs than the Rays. After squandering a 2-on, 0-out opportunity in the first, the Sox got some 2-out magic going in the 3rd. After looking bad in his first at bat of the night, J.D. Drew singled to right. Kevin Youkilis followed up with a walk, bringing up David Ortiz, who continued his hot month by taking a first pitch fastball to the track for a 2-RBI double. That was all the Sox would get off of James Shields, who managed 8 strong innings, and all they would need.

The Red Sox will hope their strong starting pitching disease is a bit more contagious for John Lackey tomorrow than it was last time. 6 straight good starts--and 6 wins have surrounded his bad loss to the Phillies. Now they send him to the mound to go for the sweep over the best team in baseball. Against Matt Garza, they'll need his best.