EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

July 24, 2013

Red Sox increase AL East lead to 1.5 games

By Christopher Smith

---- — RED SOX 6, RAYS 2

Star of the Game: Reliever Junichi Tazawa pitched 1.1 hitless innings, walking nobody and striking out three, with the Red Sox clinging to a one-run lead late. Sixteen of his 20 pitches were strikes.

Sox No. 2 Star: Red Sox lefty starter Jon Lester lowered his ERA to 4.50 by allowing two runs, both earned, on seven hits and no walks while striking out eight over 6.1 innings. He is 4-0 with a 3.27 ERA in eight home starts.

Season Series: The Red Sox are 10-4 against the Rays this year, clinching the season-series with Tampa for the first time since 2007.

The Standings: The Red Sox improved to 61-41 and increased their AL East lead to 1.5 games over the Rays and 3.5 games over the Orioles who lost 3-2 to the Royals.

Bottom of Lineup: The bottom third of the Red Sox lineup stroked four hits. Jarrod Saltalamacchia was 2 for 3 with walk and double. Stephen Drew was 1 for 4 with an RBI and run. Jose Iglesias was 1 for 4 with two RBIs.

Papi Power: The Red Sox stroked 12 hits. David Ortiz had two of the hits. He has reached safely in 28 of his past 30 games, batting .367 with five homers, 16 RBIs, 11 doubles and 17 walks.

K-Rod to O’s: If you were hoping the Red Sox would go after reliever Francisco Rodriguez, be aware he is headed to the Baltimore Orioles. He was traded there late last night. Rodriguez was 10 for 10 in save opportunities while boasting a 1.09 ERA in 24.2 innings for Milwaukee this year.