Franklin Morales’ Return to Form Earns Him Amica Pitcher of the Week Honors

Franklin Morales' Return to Form Earns Him Amica Pitcher of the Week HonorsThe Red Sox had four days off this week thanks to the All-Star break, and if Friday's result was any indication, it's going to be a good second half in Boston — especially for pitchers.

Starter Franklin Morales and five relievers combined for a 3-1 win over the Rays at Tropicana Field on Friday night, with the sole run an unearned tally allowed by Scott Atchison after an error by Mike Aviles allowed Ben Zobrist to reach in the sixth inning.

Although Morales had to leave the contest after throwing 95 pitches in five innings, he still earns the Amica Pitcher of the Week award for getting the Red Sox back on the winning track. Boston entered Friday's game having lost six of seven, including three of four at home to the division-leading Yankees. Morales' last start, on July 7 in the first game of a doubleheader against New York, had been his worst of the season, as he surrendered six runs — including four homers — in just 3 1/3 innings.

But the Venezuelan lefty showed resilience in bouncing back on Friday, a trait he would need to work out of jams in the first and fourth innings. Although Morales allowed just two hits in five frames, he walked three batters and found himself in trouble in the first inning after a hit and an error gave the Rays runners on first and third with two outs. Morales kept the Rays off the board by picking off B.J. Upton to end the inning.

Later, in the fourth, Morales walked the bases loaded with two outs but was able to strike out Luke Scott to preserve the Sox' 3-0 lead. With the win, Morales improved to 2-2 on the season and lowered his ERA to a respectable 3.16.

Morales wasn't the only Boston pitcher to find success Friday, however, as the bullpen put together four innings of no earned runs. Matt Albers was the most impressive Red Sox reliever, retiring all four batters he faced, including three by strikeout. Albers entered in a pressure-packed situation, with runners on first and third and two outs in the bottom of the sixth, but he responded perfectly, striking out Desmond Jennings on three pitches to end the threat.

Vicente Padilla tossed a scoreless eighth before Alfredo Aceves did the same in the ninth to record his 20th save of the season. Boston has two more games with Tampa Bay beginning Saturday before opening a seven-game homestand against the White Sox and Blue Jays on Monday.

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