64-40: Papelbon blows it, but offense makes it a blowout in 12th


The Red Sox appeared to have everything under control. It was 6-4, and Jonathan Papelbon was on the mound. Then something unsual happened. After a single by Delmon Young, Papelbon gave up a game-tying home run to Jonny Gomes to blow just his second save all year. Luckily, Tampa Bay’s bullpen lived up to its billing as the worst in the majors in the twelfth inning, and Boston walked away winners, 12-6.

Jon Lester made another good start, though he seemed to run out of gas after six innings. Up to that point, he had allowed just two runs, but gave up two solo home runs in the seventh to Gomes and Josh Paul. In all, he threw 97 pitches, 63 for strikes and allowed four runs on six hits and a walk. He only got one groundball out, versus 16 fly outs, a slightly worrisome statistic.

No matter, the Sox bullpen stepped in and did what it does best, with Julian Tavarez and Hideki Okajima taking them through eight. Jonathan Papelbon enters in the ninth, game over, right? Not tonight.

After a line drive single over second base by Young, Gomes stepped to the plate and got a hold of one to left field. Tie game, just like that. Papelbon recovered and got three outs very quickly, but it was on to extra innings.

Kyle Snyder (2-2) and Javier Lopez pitched well, sitting the Devil Rays down with relative ease, but Boston threatened in both the 10th and the 12th innings. After a game full of RBI singles and sacrifice flies, the offense finally broke out. Mike Lowell singled with one out, and Jason Varitek and Coco Crisp walked to load them up. Even though Alex Cora’s grounder forced Lowell at the plate, Julio Lugo was able to draw a walk, forcing a run to score. That was his second bases loaded walk of the game, very impressive. Then Kevin Youkilis broke it open with a long double that scored everybody. Another walk and a Manny Ramirez double later, it was 12-6, Red Sox.

The offense stranded 24 baserunners in this one, but I was more than pleased with the six doubles generated by the lineup (by six different players), which has been a little thin in the power department of late.

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