Red Sox 10-9, FINAL: A deep sigh of relief as Papelbon wastes a leadoff single by Lyle Overbay and a two-out walk to Edwin Encarnacion and picks up his 29th save, getting Rod Barajas on a foul pop to first, with Kevin Youkilis ranging down the line to make the catch. The Rangers are tied with the Twins in the sixth inning, so there's a chance the Sox will be back in a Wild Card tie before the night is over.
Mid 9th, Red Sox 10-9: Nick Green picks the wrong time to fail the offense, hitting into an inning-ending double play with two men on. That leaves Papelbon with no margin for error against Overbay, Wells and Ruiz.
End 8th, Red Sox 10-9: Lind throws a scare into the Red Sox, sending Bay to the track in left. But Bay makes the catch, and the lead remains intact.
10:05 p.m.: It's getting worse. Papelbon issues his second walk in three batters to re-load the bases, with Adam Lind coming up. Takashi Saito is warming, which pretty much says it all.
10:02 p.m.: The first out of a four-out save is apparently the hardest to get. Papelbon walks Snider to load the bases, then allows a two-run single to Marco Scutaro, who had been 0-for-4. It's now 10-9, with the tying run at second and go-ahead run at first.
9:55 p.m.: Terry Francona has learned his lesson. There will be no Daniel Bard blowups tonight. Bard allows a pair of two-out singles and he is outta there. Papelbon is coming in to face Travis Snider for what he hopes is a four-out save.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 10-7: We joked — only half-kidding — about the bottom of the lineup being a black hole tonight. But Green and Gonzalez have combined to score three runs, including two key insurance runs in the eighth. Martinez comes up with another clutch hit to make it 10-7. Now, it's up to Daniel Bard to not blow this before Jonathan Papelbon can finish it off.
9:35 p.m.: Alex Gonzalez might not be able to hit, but he can bunt, and that has given the Red Sox an 8-7 lead in the eighth, and they are threatening for more.
Ortiz led off with a walk against Janssen, then Nick Green singled. Gonzalez followed with a bunt to the third-base side that Janssen fielded, but threw wildly to first, allowing Ortiz to score. Now, runners are in scoring position with nobody out.
End 7th, 7-7: Hideki Okajima throws the first 1-2-3 inning of the night for the Red Sox. David Ortiz, 2-for-3 with a double and homer, leads off the 8th.
Mid 7th, 7-7: The battle of the bullpens is well underway and the Jays are holding firm. Since Camp allowed a leadoff homer to Bay in the fifth, the Jays pen has retired 9 of 10 batters faced. Casey Janssen retires the side in order in the seventh, striking out Bay and Lowell to end the inning.
End 6th, 7-7: Manny Delcarmen stops the bleeding with a pair of strikeouts, but the staff ace failing to hold a four-run lead sends a chill up a Nation's spine.
9:07 p.m.: It's up to the offense now. Josh Beckett's night ends with one out in the sixth in a tie game. Yes, a tie game. Rod Barajas takes Beckett deep on his 100th and final pitch for a two-run homer to make it 7-7. It's the first time since April 30 that Beckett has allowed seven runs in a game, also the last time Beckett failed to go a full six innings.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 7-5: The Red Sox fail to score for the first time in three innings. Beckett now hopes the Jays fail to score for the first time in five.
End 5th, Red Sox 7-5: Beckett picked the right night for his worst outing in six weeks. Beckett started to lose it in the fifth, allowing two runs on three hits while getting one out, the Jays touching him for six extra-base hits out of eight. Then Beckett regained his form, striking out Overbay (third time tonight) and Wells to end the inning.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 7-3: The Jays can chip away all they want, but the Red Sox aren't done scoringm either. Bay makes it two straight innings with a leadoff homer, and for the third time tonight, Beckett takes the mound with a four-run lead.
End 4th, Red Sox 6-3: The Jays keep chipping away at Beckett, scoring single runs in each of the past three innings. Vernon Wells, a career .321 hitter against Beckett, leads off with a double and scores on a sac fly to left. That play could have been much worse, as Jason Bay failed to call of Jacoby Ellsbury and the two nearly had a nasty collision.
Mid 4th, Red Sox 6-2: The Red Sox already have half as many runs in the first four innings tonight as they did over the previous four games combined. Ortiz's third homer in the past four games is a great sign, as well.
8:18 p.m.: See ya, Ricky Romero. Ortiz strikes again, launching a leadoff homer in the fourth to make it 5-2. Then Nick Green and Alex Gonzalez combined to create another run. Green reached second on a dropped fly ball in right, then AGon bunted him to third, where Green scored on an Ellsbury fly to left, making it 6-2. A two-out walk to Martinez brings Camp into the game.
End 3rd, Red Sox 4-2: Well, since we mentioned Beckett had allowed two runs over 22 innings, he's allowed two runs over two innings. Sorry! Travis Snider is the latest culprit, homering in his first at-bat since being recalled from Triple A.
Mid 3rd, Red Sox 4-1: The Red Sox put the first two on in the inning, and the Jays started warming Shawn Camp in the bullpen. But Romero lives for another inning, getting Mike Lowell to hit into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
End 2nd, Red Sox 4-1: Randy Ruiz. Yeah, Beckett probably never heard of him, either. He has now. In his first career at-bat against Beckett, Ruiz hits a solo homer with one out for the first Toronto run.
Mid 2nd, Red Sox 4-0: If this lead holds up, you can thank Jason Varitek's neck for the victory. With Varitek a late scratch, David Ortiz got a chance to play tonight, and he's made a huge impact so far. Ortiz's double with the bases loaded and nobody out scores the first two runs, and his nimble slide into home produces the fourth run on a Jacoby Ellsbury single.
Beckett has allowed two earned runs over his past 22 innings, so this one could be in the win column already.
End 1st, 0-0: Beckett had a pair of brutal starts against the Jays in 2008, posting an ERA of 16.71. But the 2009 Beckett has yet ot face Toronto, until now. Aaron Hill doubles with one out, but the ERA remains 0.00 after Adam Lind flies to center and Lyle Overbay looks at strike three.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Not a rousing start for this makeshift lineup. Drew gets the first hit of the night with a one-out single to right, but Martinez wipes it out with a 1-6-3 double play against lefty Ricky Romero.
6:30 p.m.: Dylan Pedroia checked in this afternoon at 7 pounds, 20 1/2 inches, meaning the lil' fella is already half as tall as his proud papa. It also means no Dustin at the Rogers Centre tonight, as he made it back to Boston in time to see his first child enter the world. That was the first unexpected twist to the lineup today.
Jason Varitek's stiff neck upended things further, moving Victor Martinez behind the plate and putting David Ortiz back in the lineup as the DH, as Mike Lowell will now play third base. The shuffling also brings back J.D. Drew, perhaps a day earlier than expected, batting second in right field. The middle infield tonight sees Nick Green at second base and Alex Gonzalez at shortstop. All the more reason for Beckett to shine tonight, as runs could continue to be hard to come by.
2:15 p.m.: The season doesn't end today. If it did, not only would the Red Sox not make the postseason, but all those people with tickets to September games would be pretty ticked off. No, there are still 45 games to go, plenty of time for the Sox to regain their footing, remember how to hit and overtake the pesky Rangers in the wild card race.
Game 1 of 45 sends Sox ace Josh Beckett to the mound against the Blue Jays in Toronto. Beckett is once again required to be the stopper of the staff, after two straight losses in Texas. Beckett will also be called upon to finish out the Yankees series this weekend at Fenway, in what could be the last-ditch effort to climb back into the division race. But first things first. The offense should get a boost tonight from the return of Kevin Youkilis. It certainly needs one.