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D-Rays' Kazmir pitches two-hitter in first career complete game

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- With first-place Boston in town and more fans than usual in the seats at Tropicana Field, Scott Kazmir responded the way the Tampa Bay Devil Rays thought he would -- like an All-Star.

The 22-year-old left-hander celebrated his selection to the AL team, pitching a two-hitter to beat the Red Sox 3-0 Monday night for his first career complete game. He become the youngest pitcher to reach 10 wins this early in a season since John Smoltz did it for Atlanta at age 22 in 1989.

Kazmir (10-5) has a knack for pitching his best against Boston and the New York Yankees. He conceded that facing those perennial playoff contenders with a lively crowd behind him always gets his adrenaline going.

"I try to go out with the same feeling every time I go out there, but sometimes you just can't help it with the atmosphere that's around playing those teams," Kazmir said. "It's a special atmosphere."

Kazmir limited the Red Sox to a third-inning single by Alex Gonzalez until Manny Ramirez led off the ninth with a double to deep center field to give Boston only its third baserunner over the last six innings.

The 22-year-old left-hander, who is 3-1 in four starts against Boston this season, walked two and struck out 10, including Jason Varitek four times and Ramirez once to escape a bases loaded jam in the third.

Manager Joe Maddon wasn't surprised by the performance, Kazmir's first since being selected to the All-Star team on Sunday.

"He responds well to things like that. He responds well to positive reinforcement. He responds well when people show confidence in him," Maddon said.

"I really think the All-Star selection, combined with playing this game tonight in front of this crowd, elevated him a bit."

Kazmir improved to 5-2 in 11 career starts against the Red Sox, who entered the game having won 14 of 15. He threw 120 pitches.

Ty Wigginton homered twice and Russell Branyan added a third solo homer off Josh Beckett (10-4), who allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings in his bid to become the AL's first 11-game winner.

"They always say solo home runs are not going to kill you. In a game like this, they will," Beckett said.

"He's pitching great. That was just the bottom line. He pitched better than me. That's why they won and that's why we lost."

Kazmir has made more starts and pitched more innings against the Red Sox than any other opponent, and much of his success against them can be attributed to his ability to contain Ramirez and David Ortiz.

The Boston sluggers were 1-for-7 Monday night, with Ramirez going 1-for-4 to slip to 4-for-29 lifetime against Kazmir. Ortiz was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, dropping to 5-for-26 against the Devil Rays ace.

"He has an explosive fastball that we've seen from him since day one," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "Now he's mixing in that changeup and that slider. Some of those sliders he threw David were probably as good as I've seen."

The Red Sox loaded the bases in the third on Gonzalez' hit, an error and a walk to Ortiz with two outs. But Kazmir struck out Ramirez. Wigginton led off the bottom half of the inning with his 14th homer.

Beckett bailed himself out of a tight spot in the fourth by fielding Jonny Gomes' sharp grounder back to the mound to begin an inning-ending double play that stranded a runner at third with the Red Sox trailing 1-0.

Branyan led off Tampa Bay's fifth with his 10th homer -- an opposite field shot that helped him remain one of just two major leaguers who have hit more home runs than singles (eight) this season. Atlanta pitcher Jorge Sosa (two homers, no singles) is the other.

Three pitches later, Wigginton hit his 15th to make it 3-0.

"Seven innings, three runs. Most nights that's good enough," Francona said of Beckett's performance. "We couldn't mount any offense."

Notes

  • Beckett walked three and struck out six.
  • Gonzalez's single extended his hitting streak to 12 games.
  • The Devil Rays are 13-25 against AL East opponents and 23-22 against everyone else. They are 5-11 against the Red Sox and New York Yankees.
  • Beckett has allowed 23 homers in 104 innings. Wigginton has homered three times off him in 13 career at-bats.
  • It was the second multihomer game of Wigginton's career. The other came for the New York Mets against the Yankees on July 4, 2004.
 
Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Tampa Bay's Russell Branyan clubs his 10th home run, a fifth-inning shot off Josh Beckett.  (AP)
Tampa Bay's Russell Branyan clubs his 10th home run, a fifth-inning shot off Josh Beckett. (AP)

Players of the Game
Tampa Bay

S. Kazmir
IP 9.0
H 2
ER 0
BB 2
K 10
Tampa Bay

T. Wigginton
AB 3
R 2
H 2
HR 2
RBI 2
 

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Boston Red Sox
Kevin Youkilis, 1B3000100
Mark Loretta, 2B4000004
David Ortiz, DH3000121
Manny Ramirez, LF4010013
Jason Varitek, C4000041
Mike Lowell, 3B3000011
Gabe Kapler, RF4000002
Coco Crisp, CF3000020
Alex Gonzalez, SS3010000
Totals3102021012 
Batting
2B - Manny Ramirez (, Kazmir)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Loretta-Youkilis, Beckett-A. Gonzalez-Youkilis, Loretta-Youkilis, Loretta-A. Gonzalez
Boston Red Sox
Josh Beckett (L,-) 7733363
Javier Lopez 1100000
WP - Josh Beckett ()
Pitches-Strikes - Josh Beckett 97-61, Javier Lopez 12-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Josh Beckett 9-3, Javier Lopez 1-1
Batters Faced - Josh Beckett 28, Javier Lopez 3
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Julio Lugo, SS4000002
Carl Crawford, LF4020010
Rocco Baldelli, CF4000012
Aubrey Huff, 3B4010002
    Tomas Perez, 3B0000000
Jorge Cantu, 2B2010100
Jonny Gomes, DH2000101
Russell Branyan, RF3111022
Ty Wigginton, 1B3222010
Josh Paul, C2010110
Totals28383369 
Batting
2B - Aubrey Huff (, Beckett)
HR - Russell Branyan (, Beckett), Ty Wigginton 2 (, Beckett, Beckett)
RBI - Russell Branyan (), Ty Wigginton 2 ()
SB - Carl Crawford (, 2nd base off Beckett/Varitek), Rocco Baldelli (, 2nd base off Lopez/Varitek)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
E - Julio Lugo 2 (, misplayed grounder)
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Scott Kazmir (W,-) 92002100
HBP - Lowell (by Scott Kazmir)
Pitches-Strikes - Scott Kazmir 120-84
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Scott Kazmir 5-14
Batters Faced - Scott Kazmir 34
Game Information
Attendance - 26149
Game Time - 2:20
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Charlie Reliford, First Base - Paul Nauert, Second Base - Greg Gibson, Third Base - Lance Barksdale