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Papelbon's save streak ends as Red Sox beat Texas

BOSTON (AP) -- Jonathan Papelbon got another chance right away
and did what he's been doing all season.

The rookie reliever recovered from his first blown save of the
season with three strikeouts in the ninth inning to get the win,
and Trot Nixon went 4-for-4 with a three-run homer as the Boston
Red Sox beat the Texas Rangers 4-3 on Friday night.

After the Rangers' tied it on Hank Blalock's RBI single off
Papelbon in the eighth, Mike Lowell's sacrifice fly pushed Boston
back in front in the bottom of the inning.

This time, Papelbon, who converted the first 20 save
opportunities since he took over the closer's role this season,
made sure he finished the job. He gave up a two-out single to Rod
Barajas, but fanned Ian Kinsler to end it and lowered his ERA to a
stunning 0.30.

"I took the ninth inning as a save opportunity even though it
wasn't," said Papelbon, who pitched the ninth in a steady rain.
"I knew it was all or nothing. It's a good lesson learned if you
look at the way it turned out."

Coco Crisp went 3-for-4 with a double for the Red Sox, who
played their first home game this month. Boston went 4-5 on its
recent road trip.

"I guess statistically that's what it's considered," Boston
manager Terry Francona said of the blown save, "but that's a
pretty tough situation. The reason we got him is because Blalock is
maybe one of the best fastball hitters in the league."

Craig Hansen gave up one-out singles to Gary Matthews and
Michael Young in the eighth for Boston, and left with runners on
first and third and two outs. Blalock then hit the game-tying
single, a sinking liner to left-center.

`It was the first time I faced him," Blalock said of Papelbon.
"He's got good life on his fastball."

Young hit a two-run homer for the AL West-leading Rangers.

Manny Ramirez opened the eighth with a walk against reliever
Francisco Cordero (5-4) and moved to third on Nixon's single.
Lowell followed with a fly to right. Kevin Youkilis then lined into
an inning-ending double play.

Boston's Tim Wakefield, who has received the lowest run support
of any starter in the majors this season, pitched seven strong
innings, allowing two runs and four hits with one walk and six
strikeouts.

"Unfortunately, the wins aren't in my column, but I feel like
I've done my job as a starter to try and keep us in the game for a
long period of time," Wakfield said. "The runs will come
eventually.

Wakefield, 4-7 with a 3.93 ERA, had a number of easy outs,
getting a combined nine by either soft popups or grounders.

"He definitely had the knuckleball working tonight," Texas DH
Brad Wilkerson said. "He was keeping it down and it was dancing
pretty good."

The Red Sox took a 3-0 lead in the first inning on Nixon's
homer. Crisp and Mark Loretta opened the inning with singles.
Vicente Padilla appeared to be working his way out of the jam by
getting David Ortiz on a fly ball and striking out Ramirez, but
Nixon homered into the Red Sox' bullpen.

Padilla gave up three runs and nine hits in seven innings with
six strikeouts and one walk.

Texas cut it to 3-2 in the third on Young's two-run homer into
the Monster seats after Matthews singled.

Game notes
It was Nixon's ninth career four-hit game, tying his career
best. ... Rangers LF Kevin Mench was charged with an error when he
picked up Crisp's fifth-inning single and had the ball slip out of
his hand behind him when he was attempting to rush a throw to
second. ... Ramirez had his 1,000th career walk in the eighth. ...
After the game, the Red Sox optioned Hansen to Triple-A Pawtucket.
They will recall highly touted LHP Jon Lester, who is scheduled to
make his first major league start in the opener of a day-night
doubleheader Saturday. ... Rain was expected to reach the Boston
area around 7 p.m. but didn't start until the eighth inning. ...
DeRosa made a nifty hesitation slide, reaching in with his right
hand past Loretta's glove for his double.