Red Sox-Rays Live: Jon Lester Shuts Down Tampa Bats As Sox Claim 6-2 Victory

dustin pedroia

Final, Red Sox 6-2: High fives for everyone!

Koji Uehara retires the Rays in order in the ninth, and the Red Sox have tied this crucial four-game division series at one game apiece.

Jon Lester was stellar tonight, allowing two runs on seven hits over 6 1/3 innings, striking out eight and walking zero to pick up his first win since June 27.

These teams will be back at it Wednesday night, with David Price opposing Felix Doubront.

Adios, everybody.

End 8th, Red Sox 6-2: That will certainly make things a little easier on Koji Uehara.

Holding a one-run advantage entering the eighth, the Red Sox plated three more runs in the inning — all coming with two outs — to tack on a little insurance.

Mike Napoli got the action going with a one-out double, and Jonny Gomes, who replaced Mike Carp in left field last inning, pushed him to third with a base hit.

Stephen Drew then singled under the glove of first baseman James Loney to score Napoli, and Jose Iglesias’ bloop single into short left field cleared the bases, with Iglesias winding up on third after a relay to the plate got away from catcher Jose Molina.

Uehara is now on to pitch the ninth.

Mid 8th, Red Sox 3-2: That was a textbook eighth inning from Junichi Tazawa, who overpowered Ben Zobrist to strike out the second baseman after an eight-pitch at-bat before punching out Evan Longoria, as well, and getting Wil Myers to ground out to second base.

David Ortiz will come to the plate first against Tampa Bay’s Jamey Wright as the Red Sox look to add some insurance in the eighth.

End 7th, Red Sox 3-2: Three up, three down. The Red Sox go down in order against Alex Torres in the seventh.

The Sox will make a defensive change as we head to the eighth, as Jonny Gomes takes over in left field for Mike Carp.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 3-2: Junichi Tazawa was efficient and effective, as well, striking out Desmond Jennings on three pitches to end the seventh and strand Jose Molina at second.

Top 7th, Red Sox 3-2: Matt Thornton’s outing was very brief, as the lefty faced just one batter before being lifted in favor of Junichi Tazawa. Thornton got Sean Rodriguez to ground out to Jose Iglesias, departing with two outs and Jose Molina on second.

Top 7th, Red Sox 3-2: Jon Lester gets James Loney to fly out to lead off the seventh, but a double by Jose Molina brings his night to a close.

Lester leaves the mound to a standing ovation as Matt Thornton jogs out from the ‘pen. This will be Thornton’s fourth appearance with the Red Sox. He’s allowed a run on three hits and two walk over his first three (2 2/3 innings).

End 6th, Red Sox 3-2: Jarrod Saltalamacchia reached for the third time tonight, singling into center field with one out, but that’s all the Sox would get against Alex Torres.

Torres struck out Mike Carp looking and Stephen Drew swinging before getting Jose Iglesias to fly out to the warning track in dead center to end the inning. All three of Iglesias’ at-bats tonight have resulted in final outs of innings.

Jon Lester returns to the mound for the seventh, but the Sox have lefty Matt Thornton and right-hander Junichi Tazawa warming in the bullpen.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 3-2: The Rays two runs tonight have both come in a hurry.

Wil Myers led off the second inning with a home run, and Evan Longoria waited just one pitch longer before putting one out of the yard in the sixth.

Jon Lester settled down after the leadoff bomb, retiring Myers, Matt Joyce and Yunel Escobar in order to end the inning.

Roberto Hernandez’s night is now over, as Alex Torres emerges from the bullpen to take over for Tampa Bay. Hernandez threw 95 pitches over his five innings of work, allowing three runs on seven hits, a walk and a hit-by-pitch.

End 5th, Red Sox 3-1: The Red Sox add another run in the fifth, and Dustin Pedroia again has a hand in the scoring.

After Daniel Nava smacked a one-out double off the scoreboard and advanced to third on a wild pitch, Pedroia lifted a fly ball to the warning track in right, more than deep enough to allow Nava to jog home with Boston’s third run of the night.

David Ortiz tried to keep the rally going with a single up the middle, but Mike Napoli grounded out to wrap up the inning.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 2-1: Jon Lester is on tonight.

With another two strikeouts in a scoreless fifth, the southpaw has already matched his season high for K’s, and he’s yet to issue a free pass. If he can keep that zero in the BB column, it’ll be just the second time all season Lester has completed an outing with eight strikeouts and no walks.

Shane Victorino will come to bat first against Roberto Hernandez in the home half of the fifth.

End 4th, Red Sox 2-1: Jarrod Saltalamacchia reached base for the second time tonight, but the Red Sox were unable to push him across.

Roberto Hernandez retired Mike Carp, Stephen Drew and Jose Iglesias to complete his first scoreless inning since his 1-2-3 first.

The one-out double was the first hit of the night for Salty, who has been stuck in a brutal slump of late. Entering tonight, the catcher had gone 1-for-18 over his last five game, posting a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 8-2 over that span. He’s 1-for-1 with a walk thus far tonight.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 2-1: The Rays put a man in scoring position for the first time tonight, but Jon Lester was able to shut the door without incident.

Wil Myers opened the inning with one of the slowest doubles you’ll ever see. That’s not a knock on Myers’ speed — the 22-year-old runs the bases just fine — but a comment on the strange path of his ground ball, which slowly rolled just out of the reach of both Stephen Drew and Mike Carp before settling at the base of the Green Monster.

Myers has now seen two pitches tonight, and he has a double and a solo home run to his credit.

After Jon Lester struck out Matt Joyce swinging, Shane Victorino — playing just his third game of the season in center field — ranged back to make the catch on a Yunel Escobar fly ball near the Red Sox bullpen.

Myers advanced to third on the play, but Lester was able to retire James Loney on a check-swing strikeout to end the inning.

Two-out situations have been the downfall of many Lester outings this season, but that has not been the case here tonight. Facing batters with two men out, Lester has allowed just one hit and struck out three.

End 3rd, Red Sox 2-1: Dustin Pedroia has been enjoying ovations all night, and he deserved the one he received here in the third.

With Shane Victorino on third after doubling to lead off the inning, Pedroia was plunked by Rays pitcher Roberto Hernandez. He promptly swiped second base, his 14th steal of the season, and the throw down from catcher Jose Molina went wild, allowing Victorino to trot home with the Red Sox’ second run of the night.

Pedroia then advanced to third when David Ortiz grounded out with the shift on, but Mike Napoli followed with a groundout of his own, ending the inning.

Mid 3rd, 1-1: The Rays got a base hit, but that was it, as Jon Lester held Tampa Bay scoreless in the third.

Desmond Jennings knocked a one-out single into center field, but Lester struck out Ben Zobrist and got Evan Longoria to ground out to retire the side.

Lester threw 16 pitches in the inning, putting his total for the night at a very manageable 43.

End 2nd, 1-1: We’re all tied up.

David Ortiz led off the inning with a single up the middle and tried to take third on Mike Napoli’s base hit down the third-base line. That decision proved ill-advised, as left fielder Sean Rodriguez was able to corral the ball with plenty of time to nail the lumbering Ortiz at third base.

Napoli was able to advance to second on the throw, though, and came home on Mike Carp’s base hit to right field.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia then drew a walk, and Carp tagged up on Stephen Drew’s flyout to deep center field to put runners on the corners, but Jose Iglesias grounded out to shortstop to close out the inning. 

Roberto Hernandez has really had to work through these first two frames. His pitch count is already up to 47, meaning manager Joe Maddon may need to break into his bullpen early if his starter doesn’t settle down.

Mid 2nd, Rays 1-0: This Wil Myers guy all the kids are talking about these days? Yeah, he’s pretty good.

Myers, the crown jewel of last year’s James Shields trade, sent Jon Lester’s first pitch of the second inning over the Green Monster, giving the Rays the first lead of the night.

In 29 game since being called up this season, the No. 3 prospect in all of baseball (according to MLB.com) has compiled a .316/.341/.491 slash line with five home runs and 19 RBIs.

James Loney also came through with a base hit in the inning — the 1,000th of his career — to raise his average to a team-best .316 (Myers does not have enough at-bats to qualify), but Lester was able to retire Matt Joyce, Yunel Escobar and Jose Molina to keep the deficit at one run.

End 1st, 0-0: It wasn’t without effort, but Roberto Hernandez sat the Red Sox down in order in the first.

Shane Victorino, batting leadoff as Jacoby Ellsbury takes the night off, made Hernandez work early, fouling off six pitches before flying out on the 11th pitch of the at-bat. Victorino hit a couple of rockets down the first-base line and made life interesting for the folks down in the photographers’ well, but none of his line drive were able to find fair territory.

Daniel Nava was also able to work a lengthy at-bat before grounding out to first on the eighth pitch he saw.

Dustin Pedroia received a large ovation from the Fenway Faithful as he walked to the plate, but Hernandez was able to handle him easily, sitting the second baseman down via groundout on three pitches. Pedroia, of course, reportedly signed a seven-year, $100 million extension with the Sox earlier today, though manager John Farrell would not confirm that an agreement had been made during his pregame news conference.

Mid 1st, 0-0: That’s exactly the start Jon Lester was looking for.

The left-hander sat the Rays down in order in the first, striking out Desmond Jennings and Evan Longoria and getting Ben Zobrist to fly out lazily to right field.

A strong start will be crucial for Lester, who is searching for his first win since June 27.

Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava and Dustin Pedroia are due up first against the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona.

7:12 p.m.: Desmond Jennings takes ball one outside from Jon Lester, and we are off and running.

The Rays will send Jennings, Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria to the plate against Lester in the first.

6:42 p.m.: You won’t find a much better week than the one Sox prospect Henry Owens put together down in Salem. 

The lefty, who checks in at No. 5 on Boston’s listing of top prospects, was literally unhittable for team’s Class-A affiliate, turning in 15 2/3 consecutive innings of no-hit ball.

Owens was far from flawless — he walked a combined seven batters in 11 innings over his last two outings — but the ability to make batters miss like that will propel him up the minor league ranks in a hurry.

Click here to read more on Owens and the organization’s other top-performing prospects from the past week.

6 p.m.: Without a doubt, the biggest individual storyline in the Red Sox clubhouse right now is the recovery of Clay Buchholz.

Buchholz, who has not pitched since June 8, visited the famed Dr. James Andrews this week, and Andrews confirmed the team doctors’ diagnosis of inflammation of the bursa sac in his throwing shoulder.

What began as neck pain is now concentrated in specific area of his shoulder — his neck feels fine, Buchholz said earlier today — and the right-hander says he’s confident he will return to pitch before the end of the season. Neither Buchholz nor manager John Farrell were able to give any sort of timetable for that return, though.

Buchholz did go into greater detail about his rehab process, and he said his recent setbacks may have been a result of trying to push himself too hard.

“It’s probably partly my fault because I want to come back probably more than anybody wants me to be back, but I’ve been probably pushing a little bit myself too much, and that was the problem I’d run into,” Buchholz said. “I’d feel really good for a day, or two, or three, and then I’d get off the mound and there would be, like, a re-strain and I’d have to start from square one.

“So, that’s what I’ve been doing for a month and a half and it’s been miserable. But just hearing it from him and knowing what I have to do now moving forward … hopefully, how he sounded, it’s not going to take much longer. It’s just gotta be a steady diet of the same thing everyday — not any more, not any less — until you’re comfortable with something, and then maybe add a little bit to it. That’s where we’re at.”

Buchholz will wait until he can throw 90 feet at 100 percent off flat ground with zero discomfort before beginning to work from a mound.

5:25 p.m.: It’s not exactly baseball weather here at the ballpark.

The intermittent downpours that have turned Greater Boston into a gridlock (oh yeah, if you’re planning on driving anywhere near the city, don’t) have turned Fenway Park into a marsh, with rain continuing to fall less than two hours before first pitch. We’ll need some kindness from Mother Nature and some hard work on the part of the grounds crew to get this one started on time.

If the weather does cooperate, the Red Sox will take the field tonight without Jacoby Ellsbury, who was given the night off by manager John Farrell. Farrell said there are no injury worries with the center fielder, and that choosing tonight for Ellsbury’s off night was based strictly on matchups.

Shane Victorino will take over Ellsbury’s place both in center and at the top of the order, while Daniel Nava will get the start in right field and bat second.

Here are the full starting lineups for both teams:

Boston Red Sox (60-41)
Shane Victorino, CF
Daniel Nava, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Mike Carp, LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Stephen Drew, SS
Jose Iglesias, 3B

Jon Lester, LHP

Tampa Bay Rays (59-41)
Desmond Jennings, CF
Ben Zobrist, 2B
Evan Longoria, 3B
Wil Myers, RF
Matt Joyce, DH
Yunel Escobar, SS
James Loney, 1B
Jose Molina, C
Sean Rodriguez, LF

Roberto Hernandez, RHP

Farrell and Clay Buchholz also commented on Buchholz’s visit to Dr. James Andrews, which I’ll go into in greater detail in a few minutes.

8 a.m. ET: These Tampa Bay Rays aren’t going anywhere.

After blanking the Red Sox in Monday night’s series opener, the Rays now trail Boston by a mere 1/2 game in the American League East standings. Joe Maddon’s club has been on an absurd tear of late, winning 18 of its last 20 games, and the Rays can claim sole possession of first place with another win Tuesday.

Trying to prevent that from happening will be Jon Lester, who has not performed anywhere near his ace-like potential this season. Lester (8-6, 4.58 ERA) has taken the loss in each of his last two outings, failing to pitch past the sixth inning in either.

His resume against Tampa Bay this season has been a mixed bag. Lester was stellar in his first two outings against the Rays (14 innings, 13 hits, three earned runs) before being shelled in his third, allowing a season-high seven runs on eight hits and seven walks (also a season high) in just 4 2/3 innings.

The Rays will counter with Ramon Hernandez (5-10, 4.90 ERA), who earned the win in Lester’s forgettable start back on June 11.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m., but be sure to check back throughout the day for all your pregame updates and news from around the world of baseball.

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