Lester Helps Sox Distance Themselves From Rays

Boston Takes Series Opener At Tropicana Field

The Boston Red Sox knew coming into this three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays that it could be a make or break type of series that could determine the outcome of each team’s season.  Luckily for Boston, Jon Lester (11-7) was on the mound as the Sox lefty allowed two runs and seven hits while striking out nine in six innings. Home runs from Jason Bay, J.D. Drew, and Kevin Youkilis helped seal the deal for Terry Francona’s crew on Tuesday night as the Sox won by the final of 8-4.

Boston scored at least one run in six of its nine innings at the plate, accumulating 12 hits in the process and continuing their torrid pace. Jonathan Papelbon registered his 33rd save of the season, but his first six-out save of this season and his career.  Papelbon shut the door on the Rays in the eighth, coming in with the bases loaded and no-outs, before ending Tampa’s chances at a comeback and finishing the ninth.

Jacoby Ellsbury was stellar in center-field Tuesday night, sprawling out for a diving grab early on in the ball game and sliding feet first in the eighth, robbing Jason Bartlett of a hit and the Rays of atleast one run, in the bottom of the eighth.  Billy Wagner had his second impressive outing in a Red Sox uniform, pitching a perfect seventh for Boston.  Boston came into the contest losing twelve of its last fourteen games at Tropicana field, but none of that mattered for Francona and company on Tuesday night as they got exactly what they wanted.

A win.  

Josh Beckett (14-5) takes the hill on Wednesday squaring off against Matt Garza (7-9).

(AP Photo) (AP Photo)

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