Red Sox 4-0, FINAL: Billy Wagner puts two men on with one out, but strikes out the final two to complete the three-game sweep in a span of 22 1/2 hours. The lead in the Wild Card will be no worse than three by the time they finish in Texas.
End 8th, Red Sox 4-0: I lost my … arm? Billy Wagner is on to pitch the ninth, three outs from completing the sweep. Jon Lester goes eight innings, allowing two hits and three walks with seven strikeouts.
7:17 p.m.: Jason Bay joins David Ortiz (June 6) and Nick Green (June 21) in the Incredibly Cheap Pesky Pole Homer Club, leading off the eighth with a 303-foot poke for his 32nd homer and a 4-0 lead.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 3-0: If that's it for Lester, he goes out blazing. After allowing a leadoff single and allowing the runner to move to second on a wild pitch, Lester bears down and gets the next three hitters, leaving Dioner Navarro stranded at third with one out. The big out was the second — a called strike three to pinch hitter Pat Burrell, who argued the call and was ejected.
End 7th, Red Sox 3-0: There is stirring in the Red Sox bullpen, but Lester is back on the mound to start the eighth inning, six outs away from the second one-hitter of his career (not to mention that no-hitter you may have heard about).
Mid 7th, Red Sox 3-0: A 10-pitch inning for Lester, including an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play, and he sits on 90 pitches with a one-hitter. What a weekend for the Big Three starters, renewing hope that October could stretch into November.
End 6th, Red Sox 3-0: The twilight is engulfing the ballpark. Jason Varitek knows something about twilight (see: career), but before he goes, he helps push the Red Sox closer to another postseason. Tek's two-out, two-run single gives Lester some breathing room with three innings to go, as the sweep looks more and more likely.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 1-0: Lester has still allowed just the one hit — a second-inning single by former Greenville manager Gabe Kapler — and has retired 13 of 15 since then. At 80 pitches, Lester has an outside shot at his first nine-inning complete game since June 6.
End 5th, Red Sox 1-0: While the Sox and Rays are four innings away from completing their doubleheader, the Rangers and Mariners have only just begun Game 1 in Arlington. You think we had rain? Game 1 started 30 minutes ago. It was supposed to start almost five hours ago. So we won't know the actual Wild Card lead until the wee hours.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 1-0: Maybe one run is going to be enough for Lester. The Rays put a runner at second with one out, but Lester never blinked, getting B.J. Upton and Fernando Perez on consecutive groundouts to third to end the inning. Lester is at 71 pitches through five.
End 4th, Red Sox 1-0: The Red Sox just had a chance to put the Rays out of their misery, loading the bases with one out against Shields. Mike Lowell came up and scorched one toward third base, but Evan Longoria stabbed it out of the air for a huge second out. Jason Varitek then tapped back to Shields, and the opportunity was lost.
Mid 4th, Red Sox 1-0: Two more strikeouts for Lester, giving him 210 for the season, tying Cy Young in 1905 for 16th place in Red Sox history. Up next: Hideo Nomo's 220 in 2001.
End 3rd, Red Sox 1-0: Another pitcher's duel in the nightcap. Shields has also allowed just one hit through three innings, and he made a great stab of a Dustin Pedoria liner back through the box to end the inning.
Mid 3rd, Red Sox 1-0: Lester is taking out his Friday frustrations on the hapless Rays tonight. Lester strikes out the side in the third, two looking, one swinging, giving Lester four strikeouts over three very easy innings.
End 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: David Ortiz doubles up on doubles to start the Red Sox toward a doubleheader sweep. Ortiz's pinch hit double in the eighth inning of Game 1 started the winning two-run rally. His double in the second inning of Game 2 leads to Mike Lowell's RBI groundout, scoring J.D. Drew, who walked to lead off the inning.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: Lester threw 23 pitches in the rain Friday, allowing three hits to four batters. Lester has thrown 23 pitches through two innings in the twilight tonight, allowing just one hit. Now, that's a do-over.
End 1st, 0-0: Unlike Lester, James Shields didn't have to throw a pitch during the rainout Friday night, so he works tonight with an extra two days' rest. That translates into a 1-2-3 first inning, striking out Victor Martinez for the final out.
Mid 1st, 0-0: John Stockton, newly-minted NBA Hall of Famer, threw out the first pitch tonight. But the Gonzaga product isn't the Washington man of the hour tonight. Jon Lester needs eight pitches to work a 1-2-3 first inning.
4:30 p.m.: The Red Sox are employing the "A" lineup for the nightcap: Ellsbury, Pedroia, Martinez, Drew, Bay, Ortiz, Lowell, Varitek, Gonzalez.
3:45 p.m.: The Red Sox go for the sweep of the doubleheader and the weekend series in tonight's Game 2, scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. Game 1 came down to the late innings, as Dustin Pedroia hit just the second opposite-field homer of his career, a two-run shot that broke a 1-1 tie and pushed the Sox 3 1/2 games in front of Texas in the wild-card race.
The Rangers will begin the first game of their doubleheader just as the Red Sox take the field for Game 2, so there's still room for considerable movement in the race before the night is done.
Jon Lester, who threw 23 angry pitches in the rain Friday night, will try it again in the nightcap, facing James Shields. Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz have already delivered in this series. Now the final piece of the Big Three looks to give the Sox a big boost in the race for the postseason.
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