The Boston Red Sox were victors in the first game of the second half, taking a 3-1 win off of Jeremy Hellickson and the Rays to move above .500 once again.
The first run that scored off of Jeremy Hellickson was fairly typical, if a bit inexplicable. With Mauro Gomez on deck, two outs, and the bases empty in the first, Hellickson fell behind 3-0 to David Ortiz and then rather than just letting Ortiz take first tried to battle back. His first pitch caught a corner, his second caught the plate, and all of Ortiz' bat. Big Papi turned and flipped his bat dismissively as the ball sailed to the back rows in center field for a solo shot that put the Sox up early.
In the second, however, Hellickson was put in unfamiliar territory, and for once made to pay for bad pitching. After getting the first out of the inning fairly quickly, Hellickson walked the next two batters and hit Mike Aviles to load the bases with just one out. Up came Pedro Ciriaco, on one of the hottest streaks the Sox have seen in a long time average-wise, and quickly the Rays found themselves looking at a three-run deficit as the shortstop bounced a seeing-eye single up the middle, scoring two.
Franklin Morales, meanwhile, had worked around a Mauro Gomez error in the first caused amazingly enough by shoddy webbing on his glove that allowed a throw from third to pop through. The second and third would go more easily for Morales, with no baserunners reaching, but then with two outs in the fourth everything seemed to go wrong, with Morales completely losing control of the strike zone, surrendering three straight walks. Unlike Hellickson, however, Morales was able to stop the inning there, getting Luke Scott to chase a pair of high fastballs for the strikeout that ended the frame.
Morales would get through the fifth without surrendering a run before giving way to Scott Atchison, who should have had a clean outing but for a bad throw by Mike Aviles to turn an out into two bases to lead off the sixth. The Sox were able to get out of the frame allowing just the one, though they went through three pitchers to do so.
The seventh and eighth would pass without any scoring, but not without excitement. The seventh provided a big opportunity for the Red Sox, who had two on and one out for David Ortiz. Unfortunately, the Rays had learned their lesson in the first, and with Bobby Valentine inexplicably choosing to do a straight replacement of Mauro Gomez for Adrian Gonzalez in the cleanup spot before the game (Gonzalez was a late scratch), the Rays had an easy choice to make. The intentional walk loaded the bases, and Gomez once again failed to come through, grounding into a double play to leave the score at 3-1.
In the bottom of the eighth, it was the defense that was front-and-center. With Vicente Padilla coming out shaky and giving up a leadoff double, B.J. Upton seemed to have an RBI single to right when he laced a line drive in that direction in the next at-bat. Ryan Sweeney, however, had something to say about that, going into a slide and snagging the ball in the air before leaping to his feat and firing to third to catch Ben Zobrist as he tried to advance to third, shutting down the inning. With Alfredo Aceves able to record a 1-2-3 ninth, the Sox started the second half with a win.