ST PETERSBURG FL - AUGUST 27: Pitcher Jon Lester #31 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on August 27 2010 in St. Petersburg Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

Red Sox Open Pivotal Weekend Series Against Rays With 3-1 Win Friday Night

Jon Lester allowed two hits over seven strong innings and Victor Martinez hit a pair of home runs as the Red Sox started their key three-game series with a 3-1 win over the Rays Friday night.

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Lester, Martinez Prove To Be Difference As Red Sox Edge Rays, 3-1

St. Petersburg, FL (Sports Network) - Jon Lester allowed two hits over seven strong innings and Victor Martinez hit a pair of home runs as Boston downed Tampa Bay, 3-1, in the opener of a three-game series at Tropicana Field.

Jed Lowrie drove in the other run for the Red Sox, who have taken five of their last six games.

Lester (14-8) held Tampa to one run while fanning 10 to erase an uncharacteristic five walks. His one wild pitch was also responsible for the Rays' lone run.

Jonathan Papelbon survived a shaky ninth to record his 33rd save.

Jason Bartlett collected two hits for the Rays, who have dropped two in a row since winning four straight.

David Price (15-6) was charged with 10 hits and three runs over seven full frames, with eight strikeouts in defeat.

Martinez hit a two-out solo homer in the first to get the Sox on the board, then Lowrie's RBI single in the third made it 2-0 for Boston.

Lester did not allow a hit through the first three innings. Bartlett reached on a throwing error by Marco Scutaro to begin the fourth then Carlos Pena singled. Bartlett later came home on a wild pitch.

Lester worked out of trouble in the sixth, leaving two on with one out by getting Evan Longoria looking at strike three and retiring Willy Aybar on a grounder.

Martinez gave the BoSox a 3-1 edge in the seventh with his second solo shot of the game.

Tampa went meekly against Lester in the seventh and Daniel Bard turned in a scoreless eighth.

Papelbon walked Aybar and pinch-hitter Dan Johnson with two down but recovered to get pinch-hitter John Jaso to look at a third strike to end the game.

This was the second time in 2010 that Martinez went deep twice in a game, with the first coming at Yankee Stadium in an 11-9 loss on May 17...Despite the loss, Tampa Bay leads the season series 8-5...Lester also issued five bases on balls over six innings in a 2-0 win at Tropicana on May 25, in a game where he fanned nine...Prior to the game, the Rays added outfielder Brad Hawpe, signing him to a minor-league contract...Tampa outfielder Carl Crawford was a late scratch with a stomach virus.

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