Lester Strong Again as Red Sox Shut Out Rays to Sweep Series

Lester Strong Again as Red Sox Shut Out Rays to Sweep Series For the second time of the day, the Red Sox came out on the better end of a low-scoring affair, beating the Rays 4-0 to sweep the doubleheader and the weekend series.

Jon Lester, eager for a chance to avenge Friday night's rain-soaked misadventure, was outstanding, allowing just two hits over eight innings to pick up his 13th win, lower his ERA to 3.29 and pad Boston's lead in the wild-card race.

Billy Wagner entered in the ninth inning and pitched out of a jam with back-to-back strikeouts to end the game.

Red Sox 4, Rays 0
Fenway Park, Boston, Mass.
Sept. 13, 2009

Live Blog | Box Score | Game 1 Recap

Headliner: The last time we saw Jon Lester, he was firing a baseball at the backstop and walking off the mound in disgust after pitching just one-third of an inning before heavy rain fell at Fenway Park. Fortunately for him and the Red Sox, he made the most of his second chance on Sunday.

From the early goings, Lester made it clear that the Sox wouldn't need too many runs to pick up a win in the nightcap. The lefty retired the first five batters he faced before giving up a single to Gabe Kapler. The Rays wouldn't register another hit until the eighth inning. He piled up six strikeouts through the first four innings, finishing the night with seven.

The performance gives Lester a win in each of his last five decisions, improving his record to 5-1 since the All-Star break.

Dirt Dog:
The Red Sox didn't need much from the offense, and they got all they needed from a pair of veterans.

Mike Lowell got the Sox on the board in the bottom of the second with an RBI groundout and later doubled with a runner on first in the bottom of the sixth. In stepped captain Jason Varitek, who ripped a hot shot at first baseman Willy Aybar. The ball took a sharp hop and Aybar couldn't handle it, letting the ball go into right field and allowing two crucial insurance runs to score.

Better Luck Next Time: We all knew the Rays had spiraled out of contention over the past 10 days, but their performance as a team over the weekend was thoroughly uninspired.

In losing their ninth, 10th and 11th consecutive games at Fenway in a span of about 22 hours, the Rays put up just two runs while giving up 16.

Key Moment: The Red Sox had the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the fourth, but failed to score. In the following frame, the Rays got the tying run to second base with just one out.

Lester avoided trouble by inducing consecutive grounders to third from B.J. Upton and Fernando Perez to keep the Rays off the board.

On Deck: The Rays can start to make tee times for October while the Red Sox will control their own destiny down the stretch. After an off day on Monday, Daisuke Matsuzaka will return to the mound Tuesday night as the Red Sox welcome in the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for a three-game set that could be a preview of a first-round playoff matchup.

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