Final, Red Sox 7-4: And that’ll do it.
Edward Mujica made Red Sox fans sweat a bit in the ninth by allowing the first two batters to reach base. A groundout by David DeJesus put both runners in scoring position, and an infield single by Yunel Escobar — coupled by Xander Bogaerts sailing a throw into the dugout — brought them home.
Mujica then induced a Ryan Hanigan flyout, but he wasn’t allowed to finish the job. The Red Sox brought in closer Koji Uehara, who struck out Ben Zobrist on three pitches to end it.
These teams will be back at it Wednesday night, with first pitch scheduled for 7:10 p.m.
End 8th, Red Sox 7-2: One more for good measure.
The Red Sox followed up a leadoff flyout by Jackie Bradley Jr. by hitting three consecutive singles, the third of which — off the bat of David Ortiz — scored Dustin Pedroia for Boston’s seventh run of the night.
Edward Mujica will look to close it out for the Sox in the ninth.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 6-2: John Lackey retires the side in order in what surely will be his final inning of the night.
Matt Joyce flied out to deep center field, and Desmond Jennings and Evan Longoria both grounded out to Xander Bogaerts at shortstop.
End 7th, Red Sox 6-2: The Red Sox threatened to add to their lead, but they were unable to push a run across against Josh Lueke.
Mike Napoli led off the inning with a single, putting him on base for the third time tonight.
Jonny Gomes then hit what initially looked like a double-play ball to second, but the Rays infielders only had time to retire the lead runner.
Lueke then struck out Xander Bogaerts and, after allowing an A.J. Pierzynski single that sent Gomes to third, put Will Middlebrooks down by way of the K, as well, to end the inning.
John Lackey will return to the mound to begin the eighth, but the Boston bullpen is busy. He’ll likely have a short leash.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 6-2: The Rays got one back in the seventh, with catcher Ryan Hanigan driving in Wil Myers to cut the Red Sox’s lead to four runs.
Myers doubled to lead off the inning, becoming the first Rays hitter with multiple hits tonight, and advanced to third when David DeJesus grounded out to first.
After Yunel Escobar struck out, Hanigan drove a John Lackey pitch halfway up the Monster to score Myers. Ben Zobrist ended the inning by grounding out to Xander Bogaerts, who walked to second base to retire Hanigan.
Right-hander Josh Lueke will come on to pitch the home half of the inning.
End 6th, Red Sox 6-1: A.J. Pierzynski didn’t wait long to put the Red Sox back ahead, shooting Juan Carlos Oviedo’s third pitch right back up the middle to score Mike Napoli.
Will Middlebrooks extended the lead in the next at-bat, doubling off the Monster to score Jonny Gomes, and Jackie Bradley Jr. followed with a double of his own to clear the bases and give Boston a 5-1 lead.
A wild pitch by Oviedo sent Bradley to third, and after Dustin Pedroia grounded out into the drawn-in infield, Shane Victorino snuck a fly ball just inside the right field line for a ground-rule double, scoring Bradley with the fifth Red Sox run of the inning.
David Ortiz, the ninth batter of the frame, struck out swinging on a 3-2 count to end it, but John Lackey now returns to the mound with a commanding five-run lead.
Bottom 6th, 1-1: After walking two of the three batters he faced, Brandon Gomes’ outing is finished.
The right-hander issued free passes to Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes (no relation) before getting Xander Bogaerts to pop out to left on a 3-2 pitch.
Juan Carlos Oviedo is now on to pitch for Tampa.
Mid 6th, 1-1: That 1-0 advantage lasted all of about 10 minutes.
Evan Longoria drove in Desmond Jennings with a sacrifice fly in the top of the sixth, knotting the score up at one run apiece.
Jennings doubled with one out and advanced to third on a single by Matt Joyce before Longoria’s fly ball to center brought him home.
Ben Zobrist and James Loney grounded out for the first and third outs, respectively.
Erik Bedard’s night is done, as Brandon Gomes comes on to pitch for Tampa Bay.
End 5th, Red Sox 1-0: The Red Sox are on the board.
Will Middlebrooks led off the inning with a walk, and Jackie Bradley Jr. followed by doubling to the wall in left. Middlebrooks opted to hold up at third base with Dustin Pedroia coming to the plate with no outs.
Pedroia then lined out to Evan Longoria at third base in what almost was a disastrous situation for the Red Sox. Longoria lunged toward third in an attempt to double up the runner, but Middlebrooks beat him to the bag by a hair.
Middlebrooks wouldn’t stay on third for long, though, as Shane Victorino then lifted a fly ball to center field, giving him plenty of time to trot home with the game’s first run.
David Ortiz grounded out to second to end the inning.
Mid 5th, 0-0: John Lackey had to work harder than he’s had to all night, but the Rays are unable to push a run across in the fifth.
James Loney followed up his nice play in the field by lining a leadoff double into the left field corner and just beating out Jonny Gomes’ relay throw to second.
Lackey then nearly lost Wil Myers after getting ahead 0-2, throwing three straight balls before getting the young right fielder to fan on a 3-2 cutter.
The opposite then happened to David DeJesus, with Lackey fighting back from 3-0 before missing with a full-count fastball.
The Rays stranded both runners, however, as Yunel Escobar flied out to right and local boy Ryan Hanigan struck out to end the inning.
End 4th, 0-0: The fourth inning was a tedious one for Erik Bedard, but he escapes the frame with his shutout intact.
After David Ortiz struck out swinging to lead off the inning — his second K of the game — Mike Napoli worked a walk and Jonny Gomes smacked a double off the scoreboard in left. All three saw six pitches from Bedard in their at-bats.
Bedard responded by striking out Xander Bogaerts, though, and James Loney made a nice play to snare a sharp grounder by A.J. Pierzynski for the final out.
Bedard’s pitch count is up to 81 on the night.
Mid 4th, 0-0: Dustin Pedroia, Will Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts all get in on the fun as John Lackey retires the side on three consecutive groundouts.
Lackey has retired 11 of the 12 batters he’s faced so far tonight, with Wil Myers’ second-inning single representing the only blemish on his stat line.
End 3rd, 0-0: Matt Joyce snipes out Shane Victorino at second base, finishing off a 1-2-3 inning for Erik Bedard.
Bedard retired Jackie Bradley Jr. and Dustin Pedroia on popouts to open the inning before Victorino roped a line drive off the Green Monster in left center field. His bid for a double was denied by Joyce, though, who quickly played the carom and fired to second to nab the Red Sox outfielder.
Mid 3rd, 0-0: The third inning flies by for John Lackey, who induces a popout and two groundouts to retire the side in order.
Jackie Bradley Jr. is due up first for the Red Sox in the bottom of the frame, followed by the top of the order.
End 2nd, 0-0: The windy conditions at Fenway are wreaking havoc on balls in the air.
A routine fly ball almost fell in for a hit for the second time tonight, with second baseman Ben Zobrist needing to range over almost to the foul line to haul in Jonny Gomes’ leadoff popup here in the second.
Xander Bogaerts followed that out by drawing a walk. It was his 13th free pass of the season, trailing only David Ortiz for most on the Red Sox’s roster.
A.J. Pierzynski then struck out looking for the second out, and Will Middlebrooks grounded out to end the inning.
Bedard won’t be long for this game if he can’t harness his pitch count, though. He’s thrown 43 pitches already tonight, and five of the eight batters he’s faced have seen six or more.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: The Rays get their first baserunner but nothing more in the second.
Evan Longoria began the inning by grounding out to Will Middlebrooks at third base. Middlebrooks’ throw pulled Mike Napoli off the bag at first, but he was able to recover in plenty of time to tag Longoria on his way by.
Napoli then took it himself to pick up the next out on a James Loney grounder.
Wil Myers became the first Rays hitter to reach when he smacked a base hit between third and short, but he ended the inning stranded at first. Jonny Gomes tracked down David DeJesus’ fly ball at the warning track for the final out.
End 1st, 0-0: The Red Sox put a man on base in their first turn at the plate, but Erik Bedard is able to close out the inning without further incident.
Dustin Pedroia made Bedard work in a seven-pitch at-bat to lead off the inning, fouling off three pitches before grounding out to Evan Longoria at first.
Shane Victorino’s at-bat was much more tidy, but it resulted in the game’s first hit. The right fielder poked Bedard’s second offering into the gap between the first and second baseman for a one-out single.
David Ortiz then struck out swinging on an 89-mph fastball, and Mike Napoli grounded back to Bedard to end the inning.
Mid 1st, 0-0: John Lackey has no problem here in the first, setting the Rays down in order.
Lackey started the inning by striking out Ben Zobrist swinging, then he got Desmond Jennings to fly out to Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field. The wind here at the ballpark seemed to affect the ball’s trajectory, as Bradley had to sprint in toward the infield before making the grab.
Matt Joyce struck out swinging to end the frame.
Dustin Pedroia is batting leadoff for the Red Sox tonight, so he’ll be the first to face Erik Bedard in the bottom of the first. Shane Victorino and David Ortiz will follow.
7:10 p.m.: John Lackey’s first pitch is low for ball one to Ben Zobrist, and we are underway.
6:50 p.m.: We’re less than 30 minutes from game time, but first, here are a few interesting nuggets about Tampa Bay starting pitcher Erik Bedard, courtesy of the Rays’ media guide.
Bedard, who is listed at 6-foot-1, measured in at 5-foot-4, 120 pounds when he graduated high school in Ontario. And, not only did the right-hander never play baseball before enrolling at Norwalk Community Technical College in Connecticut, but he also didn’t learn to speak English until college.
With those fun facts out of the way, let’s play some baseball. Ben Zobrist, Desmond Jennings and Matt Joyce are due up first for the Rays against John Lackey.
6 p.m.: Wil Myers has played only one full season in the majors, but the Tampa Bay Rays outfielder already has a Fenway experience he won’t be forgetting any time soon.
Myers spoke about his fielding miscue from last year’s ALDS — which, in a way, served as a springboard for the Red Sox’s World Series run — in the dugout during batting practice.
Check out what he had to say.
4:30 p.m.: Hello again from Fenway Park on what isn’t exactly an ideal evening for a baseball game.
The thermometer currently reads 43 degrees in Boston, with overcast skies and the faintest bit of drizzle surrounding the ballpark. No substantial precipitation is expected, though, so we shouldn’t be in any danger of a rain delay.
Here’s a glance at the lineups the division rivals will be trotting out for their first meeting of 2014. For a more in-depth look, click here.
Full lineups for Sox-Rays. http://t.co/gybCiNXa49—
Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) April 29, 2014
8 a.m. ET: It was buried under a pile of pine tar, but John Lackey turned in his best outing of the season last Wednesday night.
The veteran right-hander allowed just one run on seven hits over eight innings, striking out a season-high 11 without walking a batter in a 5-1 win over the New York Yankees.
The start came after back-to-back brutal performances by Lackey — he allowed a total of 12 runs over 11 innings — and he’ll try to keep his momentum going when he takes the mound against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday.
Opposing Lackey will be another 35-year-old starter, Rays left-hander Erik Bedard. It’ll be the third start of the season (and fourth appearance overall) for Bedard, who also struggled mightily in each of his last two trips to the hill. The journeyman southpaw failed to pitch past the fourth inning in either, causing his ERA for the season to balloon to 7.45.
First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m., but keep it tuned to NESN.com throughout the day for up-to-the-minute updates.