Series: Game 3 of 4

Boston leads 2-1 (as of 4/2)

Game 1: Monday, March 31
Tampa Bay6
Game 2: Tuesday, April 1
in 16
Tampa Bay8
Game 3: Wednesday, April 2
Tampa Bay5
Game 4: Thursday, April 3
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Red Sox 7

(2-1, 2-1 away)

Devil Rays 5

(1-2, 1-2 home)

    7:15 PM ET, April 2, 2003

    Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida 

    123456789 R H E
    BOS 013030000 7 8 0
    TB 300020000 5 7 0

    W: D. Lowe (1-0)

    L: J. Parque (0-1)

    S: C. Fox (1)

    D-Rays blow 3-run lead, Varitek hits monster shot

    ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Give Pedro Martinez an assist on Derek Lowe's latest win.

    Lowe shrugged off a shaky start to pitch six innings in Boston's 7-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Wednesday night, settling down after Martinez helped him make an important adjustment.

    Derek Lowe
    Starting Pitcher
    Boston Red Sox
    GM W L Sv K ERA
    32 21 8 0 127 2.58

    "I couldn't have started off probably any worse,'' the right-hander said, referring to Tampa Bay's three-run first inning. "It was mechanical more than anything. It had to do with my feet.

    "I wasn't allowing myself to be consistent. Pedro came up and watched my tape in between innings and said you're doing this wrong. So I changed it.''

    Jason Varitek hit a three-run homer and Lowe, a 21-game winner last season, allowed five runs and six hits, walked two and struck out three to improve to 6-2 against the Devil Rays.

    "There are games that are going to be offensive wins, and there's games that are going to be pitching wins,'' Lowe said. "This obviously was an offensive win.

    "I would have loved to pitch a lot better. But it's a win. It's a team win. My name just happens to be next to it.''

    Varitek homered off one of the catwalks that support the roof at Tropicana Field, giving Boston a 7-3 lead in the fifth. The Red Sox also scored three in the third when Kevin Millar and David Ortiz had RBI doubles off loser Jim Parque.

    Shea Hillenbrand had a run-scoring single in the third, giving him five RBIs in three games.

    Lowe, who no-hit the Devil Rays at Fenway Park last April 27, walked two batters and gave up RBI singles to Rocco Baldelli and Marlon Anderson in the first. The third run in the inning scored on a wild pitch.

    Aubrey Huff's two-run homer trimmed the lead to 7-5 in the fifth.

    "I think that was a first-game-of-the-season kind of thing for Derek. That can happen with any pitcher where his best stuff will come and go,'' Red Sox manager Grady Little said. "Sometimes you won't have it to start a game and hopefully you'll be able to get it before that night is over.

    "He kept battling. He didn't quit. He gave up three runs in the first, and then he held them right there and gave us a chance to take the lead.''

    The Devil Rays rallied from a three-run deficit to beat Boston in Monday's season opener, then overcame another three-run deficit to force the Red Sox to work 16 innings for a 9-8 victory Tuesday night.

    "We've played good. I've got no complaints,'' Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said. "If we keep playing like this, we're going to win a lot of ballgames.''

    Varitek's homer struck a support beam about 120 feet above the playing surface and was estimated to have traveled 428 feet.

    Parque, the former Chicago White Sox left-hander making his Devil Rays debut, allowed seven runs, seven hits and five walks in five innings.

    "That's a lot of walks for me,'' he said. "That's not me.''

    Boston's bullpen blew three-run leads the previous two nights against the Devil Rays but was not a problem this time. Mike Timlin pitched two scoreless innings before Chad Fox worked the ninth to earn his first save.

    Fox retired Carl Crawford on a fly ball to left for the final out. Two nights earlier, the Devil Rays' outfielder hit a three-run, game-winning homer off him in the ninth.

    "We're going to have our good days, we're going to have our bad days,'' Fox said. "I'm just glad I got the job done.''

    Game notes

    Boston's Manny Ramirez has a 16-game hitting streak ... Lowe threw 33 pitches in the first inning and just seven in the second when he retired the side in order. ... With four years in the majors, Parque is the second-most experienced pitcher on the Devil Rays behind Friday's starter Steve Parris (six years). ... Former Detroit 2B Damion Easley, released last week with $14.3 million still owed to him on his contract, signed with Tampa Bay. He arrived in time for the game, but did not play. ... Tuesday night's 16-inning game, won by Boston 9-8, was the Red Sox's longest in innings since Aug. 25, 2001 when they lost to Texas 8-7 in 18 innings, a game that started Boston's spiral out of contention.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press