BOSTON -- Three hits was plenty of offense for the Red Sox.
Boston pitchers made sure of that, and the Red Sox opened a split doubleheader with a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday.Jon Lester struck out eight in seven innings, and Jacoby Ellsbury hit a three-run homer in the third to end Boston's losing streak at two.
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Lester (12-6) got the win against fellow All-Star James Shields, who also pitched well and went deeper into the game but received little offensive support."Going into it you know it's going to be a tight game. He's not going to make a lot of mistakes," Lester said. "Fortunately, when he did make mistakes in that one inning we took advantage of it. That's what you have to do against a good pitcher."Shields (11-10) retired the last 15 batters he faced and struck out six. The only hits he allowed were singles by Josh Reddick and Mike Aviles that were followed by Ellsbury's homer deep into the right-field stands. It was Ellsbury's 21st home run of the season -- one more than he hit in his first three years combined."They hit the home run. We did not and that's why they won the game," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.Lester and the Boston bullpen made the lead hold up in a game that had just six hits overall.Daniel Bard pitched a perfect eighth inning, and Jonathan Papelbon earned his 28th save when Dustin Pedroia made a diving grab on B.J. Upton's line drive headed for center field.Lester pitched seven innings, holding the Rays to three hits and no runs after Desmond Jennings scored on a fielder's choice in the first inning.Lester retired 12 straight before Evan Longoria's single to left with one out in the sixth. The hit hardly disrupted Lester, who struck out Ben Zobrist and Upton to end the inning.Shields was almost as dominant, striking out six and allowing just one baserunner after Ellsbury's home run."It's a tough loss," Shields said. "You don't give up a hit in seven different innings, you've got to win those games. Today we got outplayed."The game was a makeup from of a rainout on April 13.
Former Boston outfielder Johnny Damon received a mix of cheers and boos when he pinch hit for Elliot Johnson in the eighth. He struck out swinging. ... Boston DH David Ortiz was a late scratch from the first-game lineup because of bursitis in his right heel. ... Red Sox RHP John Lackey, who is on a six-decision winning streak and is 11-8 despite a 6.13 ERA, faces LHP David Price (10-10, 3.76 ERA) in Wednesday's matinee series finale. ... Entering Tuesday's doubleheader, Lackey was tied with Lester for the staff lead in wins. ... Tuesday's opener was the first game between the teams since the Red Sox beat the Rays 1-0 in 16 innings on July 17 in St. Petersburg. ... The Red Sox, just off a six-game trip to Minnesota and Seattle, are home for just the three games with Tampa Bay. They will then head out on an eight-game trip to Kansas City and Texas.
38,525 (103.9% full) - % is based on regular season capacity
69 degrees, cloudy
Home Plate - Jerry Layne, First Base - Chris Conroy, Second Base - Hunter Wendelstedt, Third Base - Brian Knight
Would you believe that since early July, Jeff Niemann has been one of the best pitchers in baseball? Over his last 8 starts (dating back to July 2), Niemann is 6-0, 1.71 ERA.
Lowest Earned Run Average
Starting Pitchers Since Start of July
Ervin Santana, LAA 1.41
Tim Lincecum, SF 1.57
Jeff Niemann, TB<< 1.71
Mark Buehrle, CHW 1.80
Johnny Cueto, CIN 2.08
>>45 strikeouts in last 44 2/3 IP
From Elias: Jacoby Ellsbury's 3-run homer on Tuesday afternoon gave him 77 RBI on the season. He joins Adrian Gonzalez (92), David Ortiz (79) and Kevin Youkilis (78) as members of the Red Sox with at least 75 RBI.
The first game of the doubleheader was the Red Sox 120th game of the season. The last time the Red Sox had 4 players with at least 75 RBI through 120 games was in 1950, when Bobby Doerr, Walt Dropo, Vern Stephens and Ted Williams pulled the trick.
Once again on Tuesday, James Shields failed to live up the nickname "Big Game" which was bestowed upon him, dropping to 6-11 in his career vs the Red Sox. During his career, Shields is 10-21 in 37 career starts vs the Red Sox and Yankees. He's upped his record to 57-40 in all other games, which while living in the AL East, are decidedly less "big."