Red Sox Live Blog: Rays Capture 7-4 Win over Sox After Knocking Around Jon Lester

Red Sox Live Blog: Rays Capture 7-4 Win over Sox After Knocking Around Jon Lester Final, Rays 7-4: Fernando Rodney closed it out for the Rays and he did it without any more problematic exchanges between his team and the Sox.

It was an interesting turn to a game that the Rays owned from the beginning. Tampa Bay pounced on Jon Lester, hitting three homers off the lefty to knock him around.

Just when it seemed that it was going to end quietly, the benches cleared and there was a good amount of jawing and pushing between teams.

Mid 9th, Rays 7-4: What a crazy sequence, I'm still recovering from watching all that.

Morales returned and finished off the inning and exited to cheers. Meanwhile, the Rays' defense took the field to a bevy of boos.

Let's see if the Rays retaliate or just try to finish this game off.

10:25 p.m.: After Franklin Morales plunked Luke Scott, the benches cleared and boy did it get messy.

Bob McClure was going at it with Carlos Pena and started putting his hands on him before both were then separated.

Bobby Valentine then started yapping with the Rays coaches while Luke Scott and Jarrod Saltalamacchia started it all with a few pushes.

It seemed like the coaches actually prolonged the mess while the players actually started it all. Way too crazy.

End 8th, Rays 7-4: Joel Peralta continues to carry the torch for the Rays. You just have to wonder how the Rays come up with such good pitching.

Before this recent stretch, there wasn't much said about Cobb. He then tossed a strong outing against the Sox.

As the Rays shuffle relievers, each one continues to take care of the order.

Mid 8th, Rays 7-4: Matt Albers went with a good amount of sinkers in that one.

But it was enough for him to take care of business against the Rays' lineup. This has really been a strong stretch for the bullpen.

Remember back in April when they were considered a liability? Well, they're starting to find their roles and they are thriving.

End 7th, Rays 7-4: Jake McGee fulfilled his obligtions in the seventh, retiring Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Youkilis popped out to second base, but it seemed like it almost would've slipped through for a hit. He certainly thought so because he was visibly frustrated when the ball plopped down.

Mid 7th, Rays 7-4: Scott Atchison wanted no part of Matt Joyce, who hit a grand slam earlier. As a result, the reliever walked him.

It wound up being a smart decision since he induced a ground out from Sean Rodriguez. He did it with that slider yet again.

That's three scoreless innings. With this appearance, Atchison has now pitched more inning in 2012 than he did in all of 2011.

End 6th, Rays 7-4: When the baseball connected with David Ortiz' bat, the crowd yelled in excitement, thinking it was a homer.

Instead, it was a long fly out. Still, Mike Aviles and Marlon Byrd added RBIs to trim the deficit. In his limited chances, Byrd has continued to swing his bat relatively well.

9:22 p.m.: Marlon Byrd drove in a run for the Red Sox and Mike Aviles followed that up with a deep sac fly.

9:19 p.m.: Burke Badenhop is in the game to relieve Alex Cobb. It was a very strong outing for Cobb against a potent — although decimated — lineup.

Mid 6th, Rays 7-2: For the second straight inning, Scott Atchison stepped up in relief.

In this frame, Atchison struck out Chris Gimenez and Carlos Pena with a very sneaky slider. The most impressive part of the Pena sequence was that he battled back from a 3-0 count.

That's what you want in your reliever and your bullpen.

End 5th, Rays 7-2: Adrian Gonzalez made good contact with Cobb's pitch, sending it off the Green Monster for a double.

It brought it Scott Podsednik and almost drove in David Ortiz. Third base coach Jerry Royster played it smart, though, and had Ortiz stop at third.

In all probability, Ortiz may have been gunned down at home. Yes, even though he shed 20 pounds, he's still not super fast.

Mid 5th, Rays 7-1: Scott Atchison is tops in the American League for most innings logged in relief duty.

Once again, Atchison came through in the fifth inning for Bobby Valentine, getting the necessary outs with no issue.

Lester finished with 81 pitches, 48 of them which were strikes. Not his best performance.

End 4th, Rays 7-1: A coaching visit to the mound was the dose of medicine that Cobb needed.

After exhausting a chunck of pitches, the Rays pitcher responded by inducing a groundout from Marlon Byrd.

And now, Jon Lester has exited the game. Scott Atchison is pitching in relief for him.

Mid 4th, Rays 7-1: Right after Johnson's round-tripper, Carlos Pena went yard in the right field stands.

It appears some fans, who were aiming to snag the fly ball, interfered and prevented Marlon Byrd from attempting to catch the ball.

Byrd seemed pretty frustrated after the sequence. As a result of allowing two homers, Lester has the bullpen getting loose.

8:28 p.m.: Elliot Johnson just crushed Jon Lester's pitch into the Green Monster seats. That's a two-run shot.

End 3rd, Rays 4-1: Cobb's bread and butter in this game has been his changeup and fastball.

He mixed it up several times in those at-bats against Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez.

For an inexperienced starter, he's been pretty solid so far.

Mid 3rd, Rays 4-1: And that's a grand slam by Rays outfielder Matt Joyce right off of Jon Lester. That's Joyce's fourth career grand slam.

At times this season, Lester has struggled to finish guys off with a two-strike count and with two outs for that matter. He struggled by walking Ben Zobrist and Joyce finally made him pay.

Zobrist, meanwhile, drew his 32nd walk of the season. That's second in the American League.

End 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: The bottom half of the Red Sox order didn't too much in this inning.

But last time out, they were the stars of the show. Scott Podsednik received his official introduction to the Boston media before Friday's game against the Rays.

Also for those who have noticed that Will Middlebrooks isn't in the lineup, he will be in Saturday's lineup. 

Mid 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: The Red Sox put Kevin Youkilis to work at first base over the past few days, but he still hasn't forgotten how to man third.

He snagged a liner from Sean Rodriguez and got a put out at second base — after Gimenez' ground out — to end the inning.

Despite issuing a walk, Lester didn't look too shabby, either.

End 1st, 0-0: Look at Kevin Youkilis buying himself some good will at the plate.

He lined a single up that middle that drove Mike Aviles from second to score. He was showered with chants of "Youk" from the stands.

Some of those may have been the same people calling for him to be traded.

Mid 1st, 0-0: That was eight pitches and five strikes in the first inning for Jon Lester. 

That's all it took against Joe Maddon's new, quirky lineup. Now, he has Carlos Pena hitting leadoff and at one point last week, he had Jeff Keppinger of all people in cleanup.

The Rays manager is an odd one, but whatever he does, it's been working for them.

5 p.m.: Here are the lineups.

Red Sox
Mike Aviles, SS
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Kevin Youkilis, 3B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Daniel Nava, LF
Marlon Byrd, RF
Scott Podsednik, RF 
Jon Lester, P

Rays 
Carlos Pena, 1B
B.J. Upton, CF
Luke Scott, DH
Ben Zobrist, RF
Matt Joyce, LF
Sean Rodriguez, 2B
Drew Sutton, 3B
Chris Gimenez, C
Elliot Johnson, SS 
Alex Cobb, P

8 a.m. ET: The Red Sox (22-22) are back at .500 and are looking to continue marching forward as they open a three-game series against the Rays (27-18). In a two-game series last week in Tampa, both teams took a game apiece. This time around, the Red Sox will tap Jon Lester to take the mound as they attempt to climb up the American League East.

Lester, who is 3-3 with 3.95 ERA, allowed four runs on eight hits in six innings in his last appearance against the Phillies. He'll take on Rays pitcher Alex Cobb, who is 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA. In his last outing — his first start of the season — against the Braves, Cobb yielded six hits and two runs while fanning six batters. It was his fourth career victory.

For details and analysis for Fenway, follow NESN.com's live blog. Tune into NESN's pregame show at 6 p.m. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m.

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