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Boston Bats Explode in Tampa, Stand A.L. East Ground

Infielder Dustin Pedroia #15 of the Boston Red Sox shows the ball to the umpire as Casey Kotchman #11 of the Tampa Bay Rays is out at second during the game at Tropicana Field on July 16, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

Boston picked up the 9-5 win over Tampa Bay, but things didn’t start that way right away. On the game’s first play, Marco Scutaro allowed Johnny Damon to reach on a throwing error. On the play, Scutaro tweaked the index finger on his right hand. Later in the inning, Scutaro could easily have been charged with two more errors during a single and later a force play at second, but played through the injury after being attended to between innings. After two more singles, Tampa took a 3-0 lead before a double play finally ended the inning.

But Boston’s bats started coming alive in the next frame. Kelly Shoppach dropped a foul tip from Josh Reddick, who then proceeded to blast a ball over the right field fence to cut Tampa’s lead down to 3-2. John Lackey, after a rough 1st inning, loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the 2nd, but was bailed out with another double play. He threw 50 pitches through the first two innings, so it appeared that the bullpen would be taxed again.

With Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis reaching in the 3rd, David Ortiz doubled to right field. Gonzalez scored, and after originally being held at third, Youkilis scored as well after Matt Joyce slipped while fielding the ball to take the lead. J.D. Drew then doubled Papi home to add an insurance run.

Jacoby Ellsbury added a homer of his own on the first pitch of the 4th to add another run. Meanwhile, Lackey really settled down. Aside from a single in each of the 3rd and 4th innings, five of Lackey’s seven strikeouts came in those frames. But the 5th brought some more problems. Evan Longoria gave a ball a ride to the warning track, then Matt Joyce homered the pitch after fouling a ball off his knee. B.J. Upton stole a base after singling in the 5th as well, but another strikeout finished that.

With two outs in the 6th, Damon reached after Gonzalez misplayed a ground ball, and Lackey hit Ben Zobrist, prompting Terry Francona to remove him from the game, despite one of Lackey’s predictable removed-from-the-game tantrums. New hurler Randy Williams got the last out of the inning on one pitch.

Dustin Pedroia homered off Juan Cruz to begin the 7th to gain back a run, and Boston tacked on more in the 9th. A single, catcher’s interference and another single (which probably should have been called an error on Longoria) loaded the bases with no outs, and after Gonzalez struck out, a walk and soft grounder plated two more runs to make it 9-4 Red Sox.

Despite it not being a save situation, Jonathan Papelbon came on to get some work. He gave up a triple and single to allow a run, but otherwise shut down Tampa to secure the win.

Sox’ Stud of the Game: The Offense

Nearly every member of the Sox’ starting lineup contributed. Ellsbury and Pedroia each had two hits, while Gonzales and Jarrod Saltalamacchia were the only two without hits.

Sox’ Dud of the Game: John Lackey and Marco Scutaro

Lackey had a few rough innings, especially in the 1st. Scutaro’s error directly contributed to the first run, and he could’ve easily damaged the Sox more in that time.

Terry’s Take:

“Every day we go out there, we file like we’ve got a pretty good chance [to win].” – Terry Francona on Boston’s large winning percentage lately.

Game Notes:

W: John Lackey (7-8)
L: James Shields (8-8)

  • Ellsbury hit his 13th home run of the season, and fourth in seven games.
  • That makes 62 road homers for Boston this season, beating out the Yankees’ 52 for the AL lead.
  • Sam Fuld’s first three at bats ended innings for Tampa.
  • Boston is 50-0 this season when leading after the 8th.
  • Papelbon gave up his 18th run (17th earned) of the season.
  • Tampa actually out-hit Boston 13-9 on the evening.
  • Since 2009, Tampa has stolen 66 bases against Boston, the most by any team against any other in that stretch.
  • Terry Francona is 81-64 against the Rays in his managerial career.

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