Boston and Tampa Bay will wrap up their series with a Sunday afternoon rubber game, with Clay Buchholz and Jeremy Hellickson taking the mound.
The Sox have stacked their lineup as much as possible, with Adrian Gonzalez in right field, Will Middlebrooks at third, and Kevin Youkilis at first. The real spotlight, however, will be on Clay Buchholz, who has had serious difficulty recording outs through the first two months of the season.
We'll keep you up-to-date on all the action as it goes down in Fenway.
Rays 4, Red Sox 3, Final -- 0-0, 10-10, 11-11, 21-21, 22-22, 23-23. They just can't get it done.
Rays 4, Red Sox 3, Mid 9th -- And just like that, the lead is gone. Alfredo Aceves comes out wild, walks Ben Zobrist, falls behind Sean Rodriguez 3-1, and gives up the homer that has the Red Sox looking at a very frustrating loss.
Red Sox 3, Rays 2, End 8th -- The Sox waste a valuable chance to add on to their lead in the eight. After Scott Podsednik singled to get the inning started, Mike Aviles bunted him into scoring position to give the heart of the lineup a chance to bring him in. Dustin Pedroia could only move him to third, however, and David Ortiz was intentionally walked to bring Kevin Youkilis to the plate to draw one of the less-intentional variety. In stepped Adrian Gonzalez, who had played the hero just one inning ago, but this time he couldn't come through. A reasonably well-hit ground ball headed past the mound, but the Rays defense was well-positioned to make the out an easy one.
It's all in Alfredo Aceves' hands now.
Red Sox 3, Rays 2, Mid 8th -- Bobby Valentine plays the splits, sending Franklin Morales in for Carlos Pena and Vicente Padilla in for B.J. Upton and Matt Joyce, resulting in two strikeouts and a ground ball. All that's left now is for Alfredo Aceves to do his job.
Red Sox 3, Rays 2, End 7th -- Adrian Gonzalez could not have chosen a better moment to find his power stroke again. David Ortiz led the inning off by drawing a walk, and Kevin Youkilis jumped on an outside 1-2 fastball to shoot a ground ball up the middle and give Gonzalez a chance with two on and nobody out. Rather than simply continuing the rally, Gonzalez chose to put an exclamation mark on it, taking a Fenway swing on an outside pitch and slicing a high fly ball just to the right of the foul pole and into the Monster seats.
Rays 2, Red Sox 0, Mid 7th -- The Rays pick up what could be a big insurance run as Clay Buchholz gives up a wall ball double, and has Will Rhymes flare a single to left for a two-out RBI before striking out Chris Gimenez to end the inning.
The Sox are down 2-0, and Clay is responsible for both runs, but it's by far the best game he's had this year. Seven innings, six strikeouts, just one walk, and a lot of ground balls. Even if the Sox can't get the result they need, it's some rare sign of light for the rotation's scariest arm.
Rays 1, Red Sox 0, End 6th -- The Red Sox lineup seems determined to waste Clay Buchholz' good start today, not making Hellickson work at all as they swing early and often. He's through 6 innings on just 68 pitches now after a 1-2-3 sixth.
Rays 1, Red Sox 0, Mid 6th -- Clay Buchholz falls victim to the worst of his bad habits in the sixth, paying too much attention to a runner at first and then allowing him to reach second all-the-same on a walk. The double play that followed, however, was more reminiscent of the Clay Buchholz from 2010 and 2011 who could be trusted with a start.
Rays 1, Red Sox 0, End 5th -- Turnabout, as they say, is fair play. Will Middlebrooks singles up the middle with one out, but just as Clay Buchholz did in the top half, Jeremy Hellickson gets the ground ball he needs to kill two birds with one stone and keep the Red Sox off the board.
Rays 1, Red Sox 0, Mid 5th -- A bit of a hanging breaking ball costs Clay Buchholz another baserunner, but he quickly rectifies the situation by getting a double play ball from Chris Gimenez to end the inning.
Rays 1, Red Sox 0, End 4th -- Jeremy Hellickson has his first 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the fourth, running through the heart of the Red Sox order in speedy fashion.
Rays 1, Red Sox 0, Mid 4th -- Adrian Gonzalez in the outfield finally ends up costing the Sox, as his failure to hit the cutoff man on a line-hugging double allows Matt Joyce to move to third and then score on a ground ball out. Buchholz' off-speed stuff hasn't been quite as accurate of late, and with Luke Scott singling, it will be an earned run, but what's important right now is that the Sox trail.
Red Sox 0, Rays 0, End 3rd -- Another inning, another baserunner, another stranded baserunner for the Red Sox, who waste a one-out single from Scott Podsednik.
Red Sox 0, Rays 0, Mid 3rd -- Angel Hernandez' strike zone costs the Red Sox a baserunner, as Will Rhymes is gifted a favorable count and then manages to fist a single into right. Jarrod Saltalamacchia guns him down on a failed hit-and-run, however, and Hernandez makes up for it with a questionable called strike three to Chris Gimenez in another scoreless inning.
Red Sox 0, Rays 0, End 2nd -- The Red Sox get another hit--a leadoff single from Kevin Youkilis to left--but even with Jarrod Saltalamacchia managing to beat out a double play ball, Will Middlebrooks goes down swinging to end the inning without any harm done.
Red Sox 0, Rays 0, Mid 2nd -- Buchholz looks extra-sharp in the second inning, utilizing well placed curveballs and changeups to get ahead of and then strike out both Luke Scott and Drew Sutton. It's big that Buchholz is feeling his secondary stuff well enough that he's willing to rely on it so heavily--when he has to turn to his fastball to carry the load things often don't turn out all that well.
Red Sox 0, Rays 0, End 1st -- Some very hard contact for the Red Sox, who see Mike Aviles fly out almost to the track in dead center to start the inning. Dustin Pedroia picks up the first hit of the game, but is called out on what may have been a phantom tag at second as he tried to stretch it into a double. It was a bad decision to run, but an inventive slide from Pedroia may have kept the glove from ever touching him. Unfortunately, despite the contact, with David Ortiz going down on just two pitches, Hellickson heads back to the dugout with an easy first behind him.
Red Sox 0, Rays 0, Mid 1st -- Clay Buchholz has a relatively uneventful first inning, with a bloop single being the only damage caused by the Rays. Buchholz got Pena out with the first pitch of the game, and then got ahead of two of the next three batters, so at least early on he's throwing strikes.