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The Tampa Bay Rays came into Boston for Game 3 and blasted four home runs (B.J. Upton, Evan Longoria, Rocco Baldelli, Carlos Pena) en route to a 9-1 victory. Joe Maddon’s crew now has a 2-1 series lead, and can end the series in Boston with wins in Game 4 and 5.
Jon Lester was uncharacteristically shaky on normal rest, allowing five runs (four earned) in in 5.2 innings. Thanks to a big strike zone from the kind home plate umpire, Lester tallied seven strikeouts, but also allowed eight hits and two walks. The wide strike zone probably caused the Rays to swing more to protect the plate, and they were certainly rewarded.
Rays starter Matt Garza was very strong in his six innings, striking out five and only allowing one run on a Jacoby Ellsbury sacrifice fly. Garza benefited from the generous strike zone, as his wicked stuff was called for strikes more often than usual. A guy with great stuff and a kind umpire is almost impossible to beat.
Paul Byrd admirably filled in the final 3.1 innings, but took the wind out of the sails for the Red Sox by allowing the three-run shot to Rocco Baldelli in the eighth inning, making it a seven-run lead for Tampa Bay. While he did not pitch well, he did give a relatively tired bullpen a much-needed rest. The Sox still need to win three more games, and they will need their bullpen to be ready.
The Sox and Rays head back to the field on Tuesday night in Game 4 with Tim Wakefield set to face Andy Sonnanstine.