Rays face Red Sox in series finale at the Trop
(Sports Network) – A critical series between AL East rivals concludes tonight in Tampa, as the hometown Rays host the Boston Red Sox in the rubber match of a three-game set from Tropicana Field.
A pair of successful hurlers will battle this evening as Boston’s John Lackey is set to face Tampa Bay’s James Shields.
Lackey is 12-7 with a 4.51 ERA, and he hasn’t been quite as strong as expected in his first season with the Sox. On a positive note, the veteran righty pitched extremely well on Monday, fanning 10 Mariners and allowing only two earned runs in eight innings en route to victory.
Lackey is 11-3 lifetime versus Tampa Bay with a 3.54 ERA.
Shields, who has been inconsistent to say the least, carries a 12-11 record and a 4.76 ERA into this contest. He posted his second consecutive victory on Monday, as he struck out 10 Angels and allowed two earned runs over six innings. Shields is just 4-6 at home this season.
Shields hasn’t had much success in his career versus Boston, as he is just 4-9 against the Red Sox with a 5.25 ERA.
Dan Johnson’s leadoff homer to right field in the bottom of the 10th inning lifted Tampa Bay over Boston on Saturday, 3-2. The hit made a winner out of Randy Choate (4-3), who recorded the final out in the top of the 10th.
B.J. Upton also homered and Matt Joyce knocked in a run for the Rays, who snapped a two-game slide. Tampa Bay remained tied with New York for first in the AL East after the Yankees topped the White Sox later Saturday.
“He got a pitch he could handle and he took advantage of it,” Upton said of Johnson’s homer.
Victor Martinez homered and David Ortiz finished with three hits for the Red Sox, who have dropped two of three. Boston fell to 5 1/2 games behind the Yankees and Rays.
Scott Atchison (2-2) took the loss after allowing the game-deciding blast.
“I was trying to go fastball in,” said Atchison. “I felt like that was probably the right pitch. I haven’t looked at it on video, but I think maybe it ran back over and got a little more of the plate than I wanted. But credit him (Johnson), he hit the pitch, and he hit it out.”
Prior to the game, the Red Sox activated pitcher Hideki Okajima from the 15- day disabled list and optioned pitcher Michael Bowden to Triple-A Pawtucket.
The Rays have won nine of their 14 meetings with the Red Sox this season.