Lowell, Crisp lift Red Sox past Deveil RaysAug 15, 2007 - 3:45 AM BOSTON (Ticker) -- Jon Lester's feel-good homecoming got rewarded by some ninth-inning magic.
Mike Lowell hit a tying home run and Coco Crisp delivered a walk-off RBI single as the Boston Red Sox rallied to eke out a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Tuesday night.
The Red Sox extended their lead in the American League East Division to five games over the New York Yankees, who lost, 12-0, to the Baltimore Orioles.
Lester (2-0) was pitching at home for the first time since being diagnosed with lymphoma during the 2006 season. He received a lengthy standing ovation before taking the mound and responded with his best effort of the season.
"Preparation-wise, it felt like any other day coming in and pitching, I just try to take that mind-set and not let it affect me at all," Lester said. "Walking in from the bullpen was pretty exciting, lot of emotions, but other than that it was fairly normal."
The 23-year-old lefthander allowed just one run in two hits in seven innings. He struck out four and walked one while throwing 62 of his 97 pitches for strikes.
"He pitched like he can pitch, he was aggressive with his fastball, commanded it," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "From the first pitch in the game he really threw three balls, he was aggressive, down, with a good angle on his fastball and even his demeanor on the mound looked different."
Lester was coming off three shaky outings in a row. After winning his first start at Cleveland in his season debut on July 23, Lester had allowed 13 runs and 22 hits in 15 innings.
"The approach Tek (catcher Jason Varitek) and I tried to take into the game was first-pitch strike and just attack, threw a lot of changeups tonight, which we really didn't go over," Lester said.
Tampa Bay's Scott Kazmir, also a 23-year-old lefthander, pitched six scoreless innings for the second straight start against the Red Sox. He struck out eight and walked three.
"It was lined up (for) Kaz after 95 pitches. I did not want him to go out there and get stuck at 110-115," Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Boston was two outs from defeat when Lowell drilled a pitch from closer Al Reyes over everything in left field.
"You know Reyes is a guy who is successful on location and I was just trying to get something out over the plate," Lowell said. "I actually (was) in good hitter's count in three at-bats today and you really want to really get something that you can drive.
"I was definitely looking for something that I could extend my arms and fortunately, I hit it hard and even better it went over the wall."
It was Lowell's 16th blast of the season and his first since July 22, breaking a 19-game homerless drought. Ironically, Lowell also is a cancer survivor and his dramatic homer prevented Lester from taking the loss.
"I think his first outing I was really, really rooting for him and I said it before, they could have hit four home runs in that first inning and it still would have been a success," Lowell said. "But he pitched well that day against a great lineup and he pitched great game today and we needed it.
"When you are going up against a guy like Kazmir, you have to do your end because he is tough and he was tough today."
After Kevin Youkilis struck out, Varitek kept the inning alive with a two-out ground-rule double. Crisp then delivered the winning hit, looping a changeup into right field to plate Varitek, who easily beat the throw from Delmon Young.
"Jason has a great at-bat and I think from the dugout, we all didn't think it was going out but we're blowing on it and pushing it and hoping it would go," Francona said. "And then Coco has a real good at-bat and stays on it enough and then you're just hoping that the ball short-hops like it did because he has a good arm out there."
Newly acquired Eric Gagne (3-0), who blew a pair of leads to the Baltimore Orioles over the weekend, picked up the win by striking out the side in the top of the ninth.
"It is good, it's awesome, it feels good to get people out," Gagne said. "I gave up a double but I made some great pitches and you have to keep going and build from there."
Kazmir faced a pair of early jams but struck out Lowell to escape in the first inning, and was fortunate when Manny Ramirez was thrown at second base trying for a double with David Ortiz on third base in the third.
The Devils Rays fell to 7-36 all-time at Fenway - the lowest winning percentage of any team at any park in the majors - but went ahead in the fourth inning against Lester.
Carl Crawford, who broke up Tim Wakefield's no-hit bid with a leadoff single in the seventh inning Monday night, again provided the impetus by opening the fourth with a double.
B.J. Upton singled to put runners at the corners and Carlos Pena plated Crawford with a sacrifice fly to deep center field.
"We just stopped hitting, we stopped hitting in Texas and we haven't hit here yet," Maddon said. "We came out of a tough series in Detroit and the last two series we haven't been hitting."
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
- - - - - - - - - - - -
TAMPA BAY 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 0
BOSTON 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 7 0 (FINAL)
BATTERIES: TAM - SCOTT KAZMIR, GARY GLOVER (7TH), DAN WHEELER (8TH), AL REYES
(9TH) AND JOSH PAUL
BOS - JON LESTER, MANNY DELCARMEN (8TH), MIKE TIMLIN
(8TH), ERIC GAGNE (9TH)
Aug 14 10:11 PM
AT BOSTON - SCORING UPDATE
SINGLE BY COCO CRISP SCORED JASON VARITEK.
FINAL SCORE: BOSTON 2, TAMPA BAY 1
Rays vs. Red SoxAug 14 10:11 PM
AT BOSTON - SCORING UPDATE
SOLO HOME RUN BY MIKE LOWELL (16) TO LEFT WITH 1 OUT IN THE
9TH OFF AL REYES.
CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 1, BOSTON 1
DUE UP FOR BOSTON: K YOUKILIS (.300, 1-FOR-3)
Rays vs. Red SoxAug 14 10:01 PM
AT BOSTON - SCORING UPDATE
SACRIFICE FLY BY CARLOS PENA SCORED CARL CRAWFORD.
SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, B UPTON ON FIRST, 1 OUT
CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 1
BOSTON 0 TOP, 4TH
DUE UP FOR TAMPA BAY: D YOUNG (.295, 0-FOR-1)
Rays vs. Red SoxAug 14 8:17 PM
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