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Kazmir shuts out Red Sox for first complete-game victory

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- 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."

Game 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.