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Red Sox Head Into All-Star Break With A Win

It was a surprise pitcher's duel. With master-of-the-walk Daisuke Matsuzaka on the mound against master-of-the-earned-run Jesse Litsch, 20 runs didn't seem too far out of line. Instead, we ended up with five, as the starters traded scoreless innings through the first five.

In fact, Litsch managed take a no-hitter into that fifth inning, having only allowed a fourth inning walk to David Ortiz. After striking out Daniel Nava and Kevin Cash, however, his outing took a dramatic turn, as Marco Scutaro laced a double to center field, keeping the inning alive to bring up Darnell McDonald. After taking two balls, McDonald missed a pitch to hit--a fat changeup high and over the plate--fouling it off. When, two pitches later, he got another shot at it, it was gone. The inning wasn't over for Litsch with just the two runs, though, as David Ortiz followed up McDonald's bomb with one of his own, this one to right field.

Daisuke pitched about as well as Litsch did. After giving up a loud double on a mistake pitch to Alex Gonzalez in the first, it looked like it might be time for Daisuke to dig another early-inning hole. Matsuzaka got out of it, though, and got on a roll, holding the Jays scoreless for the first six innings. Throwing 62 of his 88 pitches for strikes, Dice-K didn't allow a single free pass, and struck out 5. He was derailed in the seventh though, as a leadoff single was followed up by a first pitch no-doubter from Aaron Hill to bring the game back within one.

Terry Francona, having taken a fair deal of flack for a slow trigger finger in the last week, wasn't about to let Daisuke continue after that display. Daniel Bard came running from the bullpen, and in only his second appearance in July, shut down the Jays rally with two scoreless innings. Papelbon recorded the first two outs of the ninth on his first two pitches, and after allowing a single to Lyle Overbay, shut the door to give the Red Sox the series win.

Adrian Beltre pulled up lame after running out a ground ball in the fifth inning. After playing third in the bottom half, he left the game. The initial diagnosis is a strained hamstring--not too serious, but could easily keep him out of the All-Star game. Hopefully, he'll avoid the disabled list (AKA the Red Sox 25-man roster).