Web Analytics and Web Statistics by NextSTAT The Boston Sports Nut: Sox move into virtual tie with Rays.... win 13-5

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sox move into virtual tie with Rays.... win 13-5

September 15. TAMPA BAY. The Red Sox finally caught the Rays, crushing them with 6 home runs and a typical performance by Dice-K.

The Boston Red Sox flexed their muscles, nudging their way into a first-place tie in the AL East.
Technically, the defending World Series champions, who homered a season-high six times to overwhelm All-Star Scott Kazmir and division-leading Tampa Bay 13-5 Monday night, are still percentage points (.002) behind the Rays.

David Ortiz, Mike Lowell, Jason Bay, Jason Varitek, Kevin Youkilis and Jacoby Ellsbury homered for the Red Sox, who jumped on Kazmir for four runs in the first inning and never let up. "That was just a good old-fashioned whippin' tonight," Rays manager Joe Maddon said, adding that he doesn't expect it to have an adverse effect on his young team the next two games of the series. "Believe it or not, this is an easier loss to accept. When you lose 2-1 or 3-2 on one play ... those are the ones you go home and kind of beat yourself up after."

The Rays (88-60) went 21-7 in August and were a season-high 5 1/2 games up on Boston heading into September. They're 4-9 this month, with six of the losses coming against the Red Sox and Yankees, who took two of three from Tampa Bay over the weekend.

The Red Sox (89-61), on the other hand, have won three straight and 10 of 14 in September to get as close to the lead as they've been since mid-July, when they erased a five-game deficit in a week to pull ahead by a half game at the All-Star break. While both teams are in excellent position to make the playoffs, neither wants to settle for the wild card. "We want to finish first," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "That's what you set out to do."

Ortiz, who finished with four RBIs, hit a three-run homer in the first inning after Kazmir (11-7) threw nine straight balls to begin the game. Two batters later, Lowell hit a solo shot for a 4-0 lead. The Red Sox added seven more runs in the fourth, helping Daisuke Matsuzaka (17-2) become the first Japanese-born pitcher to win 17 games in a season. Hideo Nomo won 16 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers three times (1996, 2002, 2003).

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