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Josh Beckett returned in his most anticipated start of the year versus the Tampa Bay Rays in a crucial game in the Wild Card race. Beckett did not disappoint after a slow start, throwing six innings and allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits, walking one and striking out seven. He earned his 13th victory of the year after Alfredo Aceves, Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon combined for eight strikeouts in three innings in relief in the 4-3 win. The real story was Bard coming back after five shaky outings and delivering when the Nation needed him most.
Desmond Jennings led off the game and tested Josh Beckett’s ankle early, laying a bunt down that led to Beckett throwing it wide of first to allow Jennings to scamper into second base. Evan Longoria did not wait long, launching a two-run homer over the monster to give the Rays a 2-0 lead.
The Sox did not go down quietly in the first. After Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a double, Dustin Pedroia singled Ellsbury home making it 2-1 Rays. After Adrian Gonzalez went down swinging and Pedroia took second on a wild pitch, David Ortiz tied the game 2-2 with a single to left-center.
Longoria answered with a single to right, plating Jennings in the third. Ortiz then doubled to deep right center in the bottom half of the inning, scoring Pedroia tying the game 3-3.
After Mike Aviles bunted into a double play in a crucial time in the game, he brought the Fenway Faithful back to life hitting a ball over the monster giving the Sox a 4-3 lead.
Jonathan Papelbon came in for the ninth striking out the side recording his 30th save of the year.
The Sox look to push their lead to five games Saturday at 4:10 with Jon Lester on the bump. The Rays will answer with Jeff Niemann.