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Late inning heroics by Jason Varitek and Julio Lugo sealed a place in the playoffs for the Red Sox tonight. Carlos Pena hit two home runs, including a breakout three run shot off of Javier Lopez, making the score 5-6 in the 7th, which until that time, the Red Sox were cruising and Dice-K was systematically shutting down the Devil Rays. Matsuzaka pitched six and two-thirds innings, allowing 5ER (two from the home run against Lopez) and striking out seven; overall, tonight was a quality start for Matsuzaka. Mike Timlin and Eric Gagne came in for scoreless relief in the seventh and eighth innings. To lead off the ninth, Varitek crushed a homerun into the left field bleachers (good time to break out of that slump Varitek!) to tie the game at six. Hinske followed with a scorching double down the first base line into the corner of right field. Lugo followed with a two-run homer to deep left and officially ruined the Devil Rays’ evening. Papelbon came on for a perfect bottom of the ninth and ushered the Red Sox into the playoffs.
J.D. Drew has also come to life in recent games: tonight hitting a two-run home run and doubling in a run; he also scored twice. Varitek, Lugo, and Drew all hitting well going into the postseason is welcome news. It should be a fun October!