Red Sox-Rays Live: Matt Moore Pitches Complete-Game Two-Hitter to Silence Red Sox 3-0

brandon workmanFinal, 3-0 Rays: That’s all she wrote. Matt Moore looked good in the first, and he looked good in the ninth. His 109-pitch, two-hit performance gains him his 14th win of the season and pulls Tampa within a half-game of the Red Sox in the American League East.

The Red Sox gave it a try in the ninth, but Jose Iglesias, Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino just couldn’t get to Moore again. Ellsbury’s shot — a hot grounder that reached the right field grass — looked to be the best chance, but Ben Zobrist made a great play to not only eat the hit but also to get the speedy Ellsbury out at first.

Moore had four strikeouts in the first complete game of his career. The Rays have won 18 of their last 20.

While the Red Sox’ youngster may not have had the same sparkling line as Moore, Brandon Workman made some solid progress in this start. He was hard to hit once he got going after the first inning, and he was aggressive in pounding the strike zone early. He struck out four and gave up seven hits for two earned runs on the night, but the Red Sox have to think that they have an arm that they can keep running out after seeing what Workman provided tonight.

The Red Sox will get another chance at the Rays tomorrow night, when Jon Lester (8-6, 4.58 ERA) is set to take the mound opposite Roberto Hernandez (5-10, 4.90). Lester is coming off nine days of rest, and he’ll look to get back to his early-season form (6-0, 2.72 through nine starts) rather than continuing what transpired after his strong beginning (2-6, 6.27 in 11 starts).

We’ll see you then.

Mid 9th, 3-0 Rays:  Shane Victorino just about got smeared on that play, but luckily he shouted off Dustin Pedroia fast enough to make a play on the fly ball without a collision.

That wraps up the inning for the Sox, who now trail 3-0.

The Red Sox haven’t had tons of highlights tonight, but Brandon Workman has to get some credit for putting together a decent start on a night the Sox needed one (the whole run support thing is another issue). Workman also had a nifty pickoff to first in the first inning, but after watching the play in slow motion, it appears that Desmond Jennings got Eduardo Nunez-ed — that is, Jennings beat the tag to the base but got called out thanks to that “umpires are fallible” thing. Watch the replay here.

We also took a look tonight at the Rangers getting Matt Garza. For Red Sox fans who were hoping he was coming to Boston, don’t be sad.

It’s go time for the Red Sox. The top of the order is coming up, and they need three runs to tie and four to win in this four-game battle for the American League East lead.

9:51 p.m.: Jose De La Torre had been the bright spot for the Red Sox tonight, but his luck has run out, too.

Craig Breslow is relieving De La Torre after the young righty loaded the bases and let another run in. De La Torre started out strong, striking out Kelly Johnson, but a Matt Joyce broken-bat bloop over second knocked him off his perfect streak. He then walked Jose Lobaton and Yunel Escobar, and Desmond Jennings poked a sacrifice fly to center that scored Joyce.

This inning has also had some of the unusual — the Fenway fans let out a little bit of their frustration in the top of the ninth, giving Yunel Escobar some flak after he apparently didn’t toss a foul ball to some fans in the stands. That’s the loudest the crowd has gotten for some time, and Escobar heard the boos with just about everything he did in the batter’s box after the perceived snub. Sox fans were not happy when he worked a walk.

End 8th, 2-0 Rays: Matt Moore just has had no trouble tonight getting his pitches past hitters. Jonny Gomes struggled to keep up with Moore’s four-seam fastballs to start that frame, getting behind one for a foul, whiffing on another and sending another one into foul territory for a popout.

Ryan Lavarnway flied out next, and Brandon Snyder didn’t fare much better, popping a dead comebacker toward the mound that Moore flipped to first to end the inning. While Moore has used to his four-seam fastball and changeup to great effect tonight, he pulled out the slider to crack Snyder on that one.

Moore has thrown 96 pitches. There’s a pretty good chance he’s back for the ninth, which is bad news for the Sox.

Mid 8th, 2-0 Rays: Luke Scott keeps getting booed around here. If you don’t know why, check out our earlier reporting.

The Rays, meanwhile, are punchless against Jose De La Torre. He got Evan Longoria looking to start the inning. Longoria has had a rough night, going 1-for-4 with just that first-inning hit to his credit. He hasn’t looked great during his other outs, part of a larger slump he’s been fighting through.

De La Torre got Scott and James Loney on groundouts to put up his second straight clean frame.

End 7th, 2-0 Rays: If the Red Sox keep swinging early in counts, Matt Moore is going to be out there all night, and the Red Sox are going to be done early.

The Sox are making contact, but they’re also making outs. Shane Victorino flew out on the second pitch he saw, and Dustin Pedroia grounded out on the third pitch he faced.

David Ortiz, however, worked a six-pitch at-bat, singling through first base on a full count. He moved up to second on a wild pitch, but Mike Napoli flew out to right on six pitches.

These hurry-up-and-get-out Red Sox are a marked contrast to the pitch-count-prolonging squads that filled Fenway Park over the weekend. Then again, if the Red Sox had to play through the marathon games we all had to watch (that’s a reference to Brett Gardner’s nine-minute at-bat), then maybe they can’t be blamed for swinging early and often.

Mid 7th, 2-0 Rays: The Red Sox have answered back with a tidy inning of their own.

Jose De La Torre took care of Tampa quickly, getting Yunel Escobar on strikes, Desmond Jennings on a popout and Ben Zobrist on a flyout.

End 6th, 2-0 Rays: Brandon Snyder tried to give his rookie buddy a boost in that frame, and it appeared he might have after he lofted a high fly ball to center, but his fly dropped right in front of the 379 sign in center field for an out.

That was just the beginning of another easy inning for Matt Moore. The Red Sox almost got a break when Yunel Escobar bobbled a grounder from Jose Iglesias, but Escobar recovered in time to throw out Iglesias at first. Jacoby Ellsbury then swung on the first pitch he saw and also grounded out.

Moore has thrown just 65 pitches through six innings. He easily could go the whole way in this one, which so far is a one-hit wonder.

Jose De La Torre is coming in to pitch for the Red Sox. Brandon Workman leaves with two earned runs and seven hits charged to him tonight, but he got some valuable MLB experience, especially in bouncing back and figuring out how to chew through a strong order a couple of times through.

Mid 6th, 2-0 Rays: The shift! Told ya it was coming.

The Red Sox recorded their second out of that inning thanks to overpacking the right side of the diamond, with Brandon Snyder making a play where the second baseman usually would be.

Brandon Workman also got Kelly Johnson to ground out, and Jose Lobaton flied out to wrap up the inning.

Jose De La Torre is warming for the Red Sox.

End 5th, 2-0 Rays: Egad, Red Sox.

Boston came into this contest 8-1 in its last nine games against left-handed starters, but the Sox have been completely silenced by Matt Moore tonight. He just got Ryan Lavarnway to ground out to end the frame, which included a double play groundout by Jonny Gomes. (Moore walked Mike Napoli, but we presume that was just to set up the double play.)

The Red Sox have one hit tonight.

Mid 5th, 2-0 Rays: James Loney, last year’s first baseman for the Red Sox, has doubled Tampa’s lead. Loney popped a single through the hole between first and second to score Yunel Escobar, putting the Rays up 2-0. Loney has both RBIs tonight.

The inning was not without some fireworks, though. The big play centered around Ben Zobrist, who is having a decent night. He logged his third hit in the fifth inning, this one on a grounder he beat out to first base — to a little bit of controversy.

The Fenway Faithful certainly thought Zobrist was out at first, but replays appear to show that he got there right when the ball met Mike Napoli’s mitt, and the tie goes to the runner. John Farrell came out to argue to no avail. No matter the result, though, that was a great play by Jose Iglesias, who charged the ball at short and threw across his body, on the money, to Napoli at first.

The extra out prolonged the inning enough that Loney could score Escobar, but Brandon Workman almost got himself out of it. He pumped a 91-mph fastball past Longoria, who took a big cut on the high pitch, for a strikeout. Workman has made his share of payoff pitches tonight.

Workman has thrown 93 pitches tonight, but he’s been effective as the innings go on.

End 4th, 1-0 Rays: The Red Sox have gone hitless again. David Ortiz got a piece of that last pitch and sent it into left field, but it was caught easily. That, plus groundouts by Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia (one of which came on a nice play to his left by Evan Longoria) leaves Boston blank after another.

Mid 4th, 1-0 Rays: The Brandon Workman of the first inning looks a little different than the Brandon Workman who has been out there since.

While Workman was working the strike zone early, he’s having more success with that approach lately. He got Kelly Johnson to strike out flailing on three pitches to start the fourth. When Rays batters do connect on his heat over the corners of the plate, the balls are dropping for outs.

Matt Joyce flew out on a well-struck ball to right, and Jose Lobaton went down swinging to end the inning.

Workman has thrown 75 pitches through four innings, but 52 of those pitches have been strikes. He has three strikeouts tonight.

Get rid of that rough first inning, and Workman has been very economical (42 pitches through three innings since). Better yet, he’s allowed just one run. Give him points for limiting the damage in the first and bring shutdown ball ever since.

End 3rd, 1-0 Rays: Matt Moore is rolling. The changeup has really been working for him well this game, and it continued to punch out Red Sox hitters in that inning.

Both Brandon Snyder and Jose Iglesias went down swinging on changeups.

Jacoby Ellsbury flew out to right to end the inning (albeit on a fastball).

Mid 3rd, 1-0 Rays: Brandon Workman is settling down well. He got Luke Scott to pop out in foul territory on the third base side to end the inning, and the margin remains one run.

Ben Zobrist got some good wood on a ball to start off the inning. He knocked the ball into center field and was digging for second, but Jacoby Ellsbury’s throw scared him back to first base.

Zobrist ended up picking up second the old-fashioned way, stealing on a 1-1 count to James Loney. Loney flew out on the next pitch to almost the exact spot where Zobrist landed his hit to lead off the inning, though, and that, coupled with an Evan Longoria flyout and Scott’s popout, kept the Rays off the board.

Also, not to alarm anyone, but there are some pretty gray clouds hanging around the park. It’s gloomy in these parts, and rain may be a-coming.

End 2nd, 1-0 Rays: Matt Moore isn’t having much trouble against the Red Sox tonight. He allowed a single to Mike Napoli in this inning, but that was it.

David Ortiz grounded out to lead it off, and Jonny Gomes and Ryan Lavarnway both struck out. Moore has needed just 25 pitches so far.

Mid 2nd, 1-0 Rays: That’s looking more like it.

Brandon Workman struck out Matt Joyce then got Jose Lobaton on a tall popup over short to start the inning.

Yunel Escobar punched one through the hole between first and second next, but Workman got out of the inning thanks to some work from fellow rookie Brandon Snyder, who cleaned up a grounder to third and threw to Mike Napoli in time to retire Desmond Jennings to end the inning.

That Escobar hit included quite the entertaining moment from Pedroia. He gave chase to the ball, but rather than his usual hop or a leaping catch, he had something of running, bounding hop going there. There’s no way to describe it, really. He looked like a cartoon character going after that ball, and even though he never really had a play on it, the crowd sure enjoyed the effort.

End 1st, 1-0 Rays: The Red Sox went down quickly in that frame. Jacoby Ellsbury popped out to short, Shane Victorino flied out to right and Dustin Pedroia popped out to right.

Mid 1st, 1-0 Rays: Brandon Workman took a no-hitter into the seventh in his last start. In this one, he took it five pitches.

Workman worked the leadoff batter, Desmond Jennings, to an 0-2 count, but Jennings battled back and popped a single into right field. Workman got his revenge shortly after, though, picking Jennings off first on his first attempt.

The next few outs weren’t as easy. Workman allowed singles to the next two batters, Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria, with Zobrist advancing to third on Longoria’s hit. James Loney then sent Zobrist home with a sacrifice fly to right.

Workman tangled with Luke Scott in a nine-pitch at-bat next, and Scott won the matchup when he took a ball inside that gave him the free pass to first. That brought Workman a visit to the mound, where the Sox tried to calm down the 24-year-old early in this one. They need some innings from him after the bullpen got worked hard over the weekend.

Kelly Johnson popped up to left to end the first inning, but the Red Sox trail already. According to the statmongers, the early deficit could pose trouble — the Red Sox are 19-1 when they score first at home and 42-9 overall when they score first.

7:12 p.m.: There goes the first pitch. Game time.

6:45 p.m.: Just about game time here. It’s a beautiful Boston evening, with a lot of cool air rolling in. If you’re looking for something to do before first pitch, take a look at the Red Sox’ walk-offs so far this year. There have been a bunch.

6:10 p.m.: Luke Scott may not like Fenway Park very much, but Evan Longoria is apparently a fan.

Check out the nice things Longoria had to say before Monday’s game.

6 p.m.: Let’s not forget that this is no ordinary midsummer game tonight.

While the Red Sox plumbed for plenty of dramatics over the weekend with the Yankees, they have arguably a bigger task at hand starting tonight against the Rays. Tampa is just 1 1/2 games back in the American League East, and anything less than a split will bump the Red Sox out of the top spot as they go into the final, important stretch of their season.

While the Rays have their usual pitching power, they’ve also shown up with their bats recently, too. The Red Sox will have to be sharp in all aspects of the game tonight, and they can’t expect to get away with many more infield errors or baserunning blunders after a weekend full of them.

Also expect to see John Farrell and Joe Maddon go mano-a-mano when it comes to the shift. Half a dozen players clustered in a quarter of the diamond could become the norm tonight.

The Red Sox have had the upper hand so far this season — they are 9-3 against Tampa, outscoring the Rays 51-38. They’ve also owned the American League East, going 25-16 against the other four teams.

Let’s see if that continues tonight.

5:35 p.m.: John Farrell had some updates on various Red Sox players before today’s game.

First up, it’s good news for Clay Buchholz fans. Buchholz has been out since June 8 with a pesky neck/shoulder injury that just won’t go away. He talked with Dr. James Andrews to find out whether there was any long-term damage, and Farrell said Monday that Buchholz is in the clear. So now, it appears Buchholz and the Red Sox will go back to trying to get Buchholz comfortable in a bullpen session, as that’s where he’s repeatedly stalled his rehab progress over the last few weeks. Once he can throw a clean bullpen, he’ll be ready for rehab starts and a return to the rotation if he doesn’t experience any discomfort. That’s a big “if,” though — while it’s good to hear that Buchholz doesn’t have long-term damage, the tightness he continues to feel every time he comes back is what needs to disappear before he returns, and a doctor’s diagnosis doesn’t change that.

The Red Sox didn’t give a timetable on Buchholz’s return.

In other news, David Ross, who has been away from the Red Sox on the 60-day disabled list while dealing with the effects of a concussion, is expected to rejoin the team this week. He’s not ready to play, but that’s a start in the right direction.

Left-hander Franklin Morales has also started his journey back, throwing a bullpen. He’ll hopefully be ready for a rehab start next week. That’s not a moment too soon for the Red Sox, who are not only looking for some help with Buchholz out but could also use Morales in a relief role. He was more than effective there last year, grabbing anything from long relief to stray innings.

4:40 p.m.: Here’s who the Rays are starting tonight. The big surprise — if Rays lineups are your thing — is that rookie Wil Myers will not be in the batting order tonight, at least not to start the game. He is dealing with a sore left wrist, but manager Joe Maddon had said he’d be back Monday.

Otherwise:

Desmond Jennings, CF
Ben Zobrist, 2B
Evan Longoria, 3B
James Loney, 1B
Luke Scott, DH
Kelly Johnson, LF
Matt Joyce, RF
Jose Lobaton, C
Yunel Escobar, SS

Matt Moore, P

3:45 p.m.: Here’s who the Red Sox will be sending out against the Rays.

It looks like Shane Victorino is healthy enough to give it another go, while Ryan Lavarnway and Brandon Snyder will both get to show what they can do with the big league club.

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Shane Victorino, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Jonny Gomes, LF
Ryan Lavarnway, C
Brandon Snyder, 3B
Jose Iglesias, SS

Brandon Workman, P

12 p.m. ET: This weekend, and particularly Sunday’s game, went for the Red Sox the way much of this season has. Boston had its moments of turmoil but kept providing the big hits and timely plays until it turned out on the better end of the runs scored and win-loss columns.

Coming off a strong series win over the Yankees, which was capped by the latest Red Sox’ walk-off win in a season full of them, Boston (60-40) welcomes the Tampa Bay Rays (58-41) to Fenway Park on Monday night for the beginning of a four-game series. While the Red Sox have looked good lately, winning six of their last nine, the Rays have been scorching. Tampa has won 17 of its last 19 dating back to June 28.

With the American League East as tight as ever, plenty rides on this four-game set at Fenway. The Red Sox will turn to 24-year-old Brandon Workman for the start. While Workman has had only two major league appearances, he knows what it’s like to be thrown into the fire when the Red Sox need some production. After pitching two innings of relief in his first big league appearance, he carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Oakland A’s on July 14, finishing with 6 1/3 innings pitched, two hits and two earned runs.

The Rays will have a little more experience on their side in Matt Moore. He’s been strong again this season, his second as a starter in the bigs, going 13-3 with a 3.44 ERA and 108 strikeouts in his 19 starts. He’s just 1-2 with a 5.48 ERA in his career against the Red Sox, though, with David Ortiz (.571) particularly having success against the lefty.

The Red Sox will have a short night of rest before turning around and coming back to the park, with the long night possibly posing problems for their injury-riddled relief staff and outfielder Shane Victorino, who worked through his recurring hamstring injury again this weekend to provide some solid offense and defense.

We’ll keep you up to date on those situations as well as all the other news you need to know going into this evening’s game. First pitch flies at 7:10 p.m.

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