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Tampa Bay at Boston

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Tampa Bay (45-74)000100000140
Boston (72-47) «000000002270

BoSox rally in ninth, nip Rays in Lester's Fenway return

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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BOSTON -- The game began after Jon Lester's emotional walk to the mound and ended with Boston Red Sox players jumping in celebration at home plate -- two sights rarely seen at Fenway Park.

Mike Lowell's homer and Coco Crisp's RBI single in the bottom of the ninth gave Boston a 2-1 victory over Tampa Bay on Tuesday night, only its second win of the year when trailing after eight innings. And Lester was brilliant in his first start at home in nearly a year since being diagnosed with cancer, allowing two hits in seven innings.

Add in Eric Gagne (3-0) striking out the side in the ninth after struggling since being traded from Texas on July 31 and the Red Sox had a five-game lead in the AL East over the New York Yankees, who lost 12-0 to Baltimore.

Lowell's 16th homer off Al Reyes (1-2) tied the game three batters before Crisp drove in Jason Varitek, who doubled. When he slid home, the players poured out of the Boston dugout.

"It seemed like we hadn't done that in a while," Lowell said. "Especially after they did that to us in Baltimore twice, you kind of want to have that feeling."

It happened six times last year but only one other time this season, on May 13, at home against the Orioles. It happened against them last Friday and Sunday at Baltimore when Gagne gave up leads of 3-2 and 5-1 and left with the games tied.

"I know how to get people out," Gagne said. "I've done it before, so it's nothing new. I've just got to go out there and relax."

Manager Terry Francona never considered abandoning one of the best closers of the decade who has become a setup man.

"He's going to help us. We need him to help us," Francona said, "and if we run away from him, that would be a big mistake."

The Red Sox stuck by Lester through his offseason treatments for lymphoma, which was diagnosed last August. He made 17 minor league starts this year and four for Boston on the road before Tuesday's first at Fenway since Aug. 18.

"Walking in from the bullpen was pretty exciting," he said. "It will be nice just to not have to answer the 'first' questions anymore and just be treated like every other starter."

The dramatic rally finished a game dominated by strong performances by two 23-year-old left-handers, Lester and Scott Kazmir, who allowed four hits in six innings. On Monday, Tampa Bay wasted a solid outing by James Shields in a 3-0 loss in which it managed two hits.

"Those are our horses," designated hitter Jonny Gomes said. "They go out and perform like that, we have to get over the hill and get them some runs. We haven't been able to do that."

The Devil Rays have two runs in their last 30 innings.

"It's frustrating," manager Joe Maddon said, but "it bodes well for the future if you look at Kaz and Shields coming into this ballpark and pitching at the level that they have."

Lowell's homer on a 2-0 pitch with one out saved Lester from his first loss in eight starts and deprived Kazmir of his 10th win. After Reyes struck out Kevin Youkilis for the second out, Varitek hit a ground-rule double to right then raced home on Crisp's sharp single to right.

Lester received several standing ovations -- when he strolled in from the bullpen, when he took the mound for the first inning and when he walked toward the dugout after his final inning.

Lester, 17 days older than Kazmir, walked the first batter he faced, Akinori Iwamura, then retired the next nine. Carl Crawford led off the fourth with a double, advanced on B.J. Upton's single and scored on Carlos Pena's sacrifice fly.

Pena's out began a stretch in which Lester retired his last 12 batters. He threw 97 pitches, 62 for strikes.

Kazmir has allowed one run in his last 25 innings over four starts. He struck out eight and walked three before Gary Glover and Dan Wheeler each pitched a hitless inning and Reyes ended up with his second blown save in 20 chances.

Notes

  • Of the 24 runs off Reyes, 18 have come on nine homers.
  • Crawford has hit safely in 13 of his last 14 games. His double was Tampa Bay's first hit of the game. On Monday, he spoiled Tim Wakefield's no-hit bid by leading off the seventh with a single.
  • Dustin Pedroia had his fifth multi-hit outing in six games.
  • Boston reliever Brendan Donnelly underwent "Tommy John" reconstructive surgery on his right elbow Tuesday and is expected to miss 12-18 months.
 
Copyright 2014 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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Mike Lowell is the most popular Red Sox -- for the moment -- after his game-tying HR in the ninth.  (AP)
Mike Lowell is the most popular Red Sox -- for the moment -- after his game-tying HR in the ninth. (AP)

Players of the Game
Boston

M. Lowell
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 1
Tampa Bay

C. Crawford
AB 3
R 1
H 1
HR 0
RBI 0
 
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Akinori Iwamura, 3B3000102 .283
Carl Crawford, LF3110111 .314
B.J. Upton, CF4010024 .320
Carlos Pena, 1B3001011 .262
Delmon Young, RF4000021 .293
Brendan Harris, 2B4010001 .293
Jonny Gomes, DH4010021 .265
Josh Wilson, SS2000100 .247
Josh Paul, C2000000 .179
Totals2914138  
Batting
2B - Carl Crawford (30, Lester), Brendan Harris (26, Gagne)
SF - Carlos Pena (5)
SH - Josh Paul (2)
RBI - Carlos Pena (74)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
Outfield Assists - B.J. Upton 1
DP - Wilson-Pena
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Scott Kazmir 6400380 3.44
Gary Glover (H,6) 1000100 5.34
Dan Wheeler (H,8) 1000000 5.37
Al Reyes (BS,2; L,1-2) 0.2322021 4.64
Pitches-Strikes - Scott Kazmir 95-55, Gary Glover 10-6, Dan Wheeler 17-9, Al Reyes 29-17
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Scott Kazmir 3-6, Gary Glover 2-0, Dan Wheeler 1-2
Batters Faced - Scott Kazmir 24, Gary Glover 3, Dan Wheeler 3, Al Reyes 5
Boston Red Sox
Julio Lugo, SS4000010 .236
Dustin Pedroia, 2B4020000 .328
David Ortiz, DH3000102 .313
Manny Ramirez, LF3010111 .292
Mike Lowell, 3B4111012 .311
Kevin Youkilis, 1B4010030 .299
Jason Varitek, C2110211 .266
Coco Crisp, CF4011023 .273
Wily Mo Pena, RF2000011 .218
   a- J.D. Drew, PH-RF1000001 .261
Totals31272410  
a-grounded into a double play for Pena in the 7th
Batting
2B - Dustin Pedroia (25, Kazmir), Jason Varitek (13, Reyes)
HR - Mike Lowell (16, Reyes)
RBI - Mike Lowell (79), Coco Crisp (44)
2-OUT RBI - Coco Crisp (18)
Team LOB - 7
Boston Red Sox
Jon Lester 7211140 5.14
Manny Delcarmen 0.2100200 2.19
Mike Timlin 0.1000010 3.35
Eric Gagne (W,3-0) 1100030 3.52
IBB - Crawford by Manny Delcarmen
Pitches-Strikes - Jon Lester 97-62, Manny Delcarmen 20-9, Mike Timlin 4-4, Eric Gagne 17-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jon Lester 9-8, Manny Delcarmen 1-1
Batters Faced - Jon Lester 24, Manny Delcarmen 5, Mike Timlin 1, Eric Gagne 4
Game Information
Attendance - 36837
Game Time - 3:03
Temperature - 66
Umpires - Home - Field Culbreth, First Base - Paul Schrieber, Second Base - Tim McClelland, Third Base - Marty Foster