Devil Rays Avoid Sweep With Win At Boston

Devil Rays Avoid Sweep With Win At Boston

Tampa Bay Devil Rays closer Al Reyes, who allowed two runs in the ninth inning in the Devil Rays' 2-1 loss on Tuesday night, fanned Manny Ramirez with two runners on for the final out as the Devil Rays held off Boston 6-5 on Wednesday.

BOSTON (AP) -- This time, Al Reyes stopped a late-inning rally against the Boston Red Sox.

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays closer, who allowed two runs in the ninth inning in the Devil Rays' 2-1 loss on Tuesday night, fanned Manny Ramirez with two runners on for the final out as the Devil Rays held off Boston 6-5 on Wednesday.

"The interminable ninth here at Fenway," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "It's always like that. If you have the lead you are never comfortable."

Boston cut it to 6-5 on Julio Lugo's RBI double with none out in the ninth, but Reyes fanned Dustin Pedroia and came back from a 3-0 count to strike out Boston first baseman Kevin Youkilis. After David Ortiz walked, the veteran closer, who missed the entire 2006 season due his second career Tommy John surgery, went right after Ramirez and struck him out swinging on a pitch up and in for his 18th save in 20 chances.

"I just left a couple of pitches up yesterday. You make a mistake at this level, you pay," Reyes said. "Today I just came back aggressive and tried to hit the strike zone."

Ramirez fouled off the first four pitches before striking out. Looking a bit surprised, he bounced his helmet softly in his hand and walked swiftly back to the dugout.

"We had the guys right there," Lugo said. "You've got plenty of confidence in the guys coming up -- Pedroia, David and Manny."

Andy Sonnanstine (2-8) took a shutout into the seventh inning to end his eight-game losing streak, and the light-hitting Devil Rays roughed up Daisuke Matsuzaka while building a six-run lead.

After two excellent outings from front line starters Scott Kazmir and Jamie Shields, it was the young rookie, a Kent State University product, who got the Devil Rays a victory at Fenway Park.

Carlos Pena, whose in the midst of his worst slump of the season, drove in three runs and the Devil Rays scored five in the first three innings, matching their total for the previous 39 and snapping their three-game losing streak. Headed into the game, Pena, the Devil Rays team leader in home runs and RBIs, was 3-for-32 on the road trip. The slugging first baseman, a naitve of Haverhill, MA, hasn't hit a homer in his last 10 games.

The Red Sox, who took two of three from Tampa Bay, stayed five games ahead of second-place New York in the AL East after the New York Yankees lost their second consecutive game to Baltimore Orioles.

"If we keep winning two out of three, we're going to be just fine," Boston's Mike Lowell said.

Boston again failed to provide much support for Matsuzaka (13-9), who left trailing 6-0 after six. The Red Sox rallied with three runs in the seventh against Sonnanstine and one in the eighth against Dan Wheeler.

Sonnanstine won his first major-league start on June 10 at Florida, 9-4. He hadn't won since, and in his previous two outings he was 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA -- he failed to get out of the fifth both times. On Wednesday, he allowed three runs and four hits in 6 2/3 innings.

"I just thought it was an overall team win, but it's always driven by the pitching," Maddon said. "Reyes is an absolute pro. You could see him out there and he was never rattled."

Matsuzaka entered with a 2.53 ERA since June 1, best in the AL. But he is just 6-6 during that span, largely because Boston has scored two runs or less while he was in the game in 11 of his last 14 starts.

The Devil Rays led 1-0 before two infield hits and a safety squeeze helped them score four runs off Matsuzaka in the third. Tampa Bay made it 6-0 in the sixth when Brendan Harris tripled and scored on Dioner Navarro's sacrifice fly. Julian Tavarez replaced Matsuzaka to start the seventh.

"Having won in such a great fashion yesterday, I'm very disappointed and even sorry that I put a stop to our momentum," Matsuzaka said through a translator.

Boston cut the lead to 6-3 in the seventh on Jason Varitek's two-run homer and Lugo's RBI double. Ramirez added an RBI double in the eighth, but was stranded at second.

Tampa Bay went ahead in the first on an RBI groundout by Pena after singles by Akinori Iwamura and Carl Crawford.

In the third, the first five Devil Rays batters reached safely. They loaded the bases on singles by Iwamura and Crawford and a walk to B.J. Upton. Pena doubled home two runs; Delmon Young drove in another with a slow-rolling single that second baseman Pedroia couldn't handle; and Harris' squeeze bunt scored Pena.

Game notes

Iwamura ended an 0-for-15 slump. ... Matsuzaka has alternated wins and losses in his last eight decisions. ... Crawford has hit safely in 15 of 16 games and went 2-for-5. His .484 average in August is the best in the majors for the month. ... Ramirez's RBI was his 1,595th, tying him for 30th place on the career list with Mike Schmidt -- one behind George Brett.

Prior to the start of Wednesday's game, Maddon said that the organization will begin discussing September call ups within the next few days.

The Devil Rays, off Thursday, will open up a three-game series with the Cleveland Indians on Friday night at Tropicana Field. Edwin Jackson, coming off a dominant complete game shut out against the Texas Rangers in his last start, will take the mound in the opener for Tampa Bay. The young right-hander -- 3-11 with a 5.84 ERA -- will square off against Paul Byrd for the Indians. Byrd, a veteran right-hander, was roughed up in his last outing against the hot-hitting Yankees.

Tyler Hissey contributed to the Associated Press for this story.

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