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News » Dice-K in deep trouble Matsuzaka allows 3 HRs as Sox lose again to Rays

Dice-K in deep trouble Matsuzaka allows 3 HRs as Sox lose again to Rays

Dice-K in deep trouble Matsuzaka allows 3 HRs as Sox lose again to Rays

BOSTON - When Daisuke Matsuzaka is escaping frequent jams and winning despite high pitch counts, the Boston Red Sox are more than willing to accept his risky, unorthodox approach.

On his lesser days, though, Matsuzaka can make a six-inning start feel like a day-night doubleheader.

That's what happened at Fenway Park Thursday. This time, it wasn't baserunners, but home runs that did Dice-K in, as Tampa Bay edged the Red Sox 4-3 in the rubber match of a three-season, season-opening series.

Matsuzaka gave up home runs to Matt Joyce, Evan Longoria and Shawn Riggans, which accounted for all of the Rays' runs.

He left after 5 innings with a 4-1 deficit, before the Red Sox supplied a very interesting ending to an otherwise tedious game.

Kevin Youkilis flied out to end it, with the tying run on first. It was an otherwise dazzling series for Youkilis, who had eight of Boston's 24 hits and is hitting .667.

Until his flyout to deep right-center, Youkilis had reached base seven straight times.

"We came up short, but we gave ourselves a chance," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.

Catcher Jason Varitek similarly tried to put positive spin on Matsuzaka's 100-pitch, 60-strike outing.

"The good thing was, he didn't let them turn it into a blowout, which they had chances to do," Varitek said.

The Rays left seven runners on base in the first five innings, but Matsuzaka couldn't escape the impact of the home runs.

"I had some command issues in key situations, but the reason I struggled, above all else, was that I didn't have any life on the fastball," he said through a translator.

Last year, Matsuzaka allowed only 12 home runs in 168 innings.

Trailing 4-1 in the eighth, the Red Sox scored a run and left two men in scoring position when Jed Lowrie struck out. Varitek homered off closer Troy Percival in the ninth, but it wasn't enough.

Tampa Bay's Matt Garza allowed one run and four hits in seven innings. The MVP of the 2007 American League Championship Series, Garza beat Boston in Games 3 and 7.

Matsuzaka was 18-3 last year. He was 3-0 this spring in the World Baseball Classic, winning the MVP award as Japan took the title.

"He certainly has the pitches to have shorter innings," Francona said. "He wants to be more economical, because he wants to stay out there all day, and he knows that if he's at 100 pitches, that won't happen."

"Even when I was in Japan, I wanted to go deep to help our bullpen. Right now, not being able to go so deep is stressful, both for myself and the team," Matsuzaka said.

The Red Sox bullpen supplied 3 innings of one-hit shutout ball. Newcomer Ramon Ramirez had his second straight flawless outing.

Rays 4

Red Sox 3

Red Sox Fast Facts


Los Angeles Angels



Friday?10:05 NESN Saturday?4:10 TV-6 Sunday?3:35 NESN Anaheim, Calif.

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RH Tim Wakefield (0-0) vs.

RH Shane Loux (0-0)


RH Brad Penny (0-0) vs.

LH Joe Saunders (1-0)


RH Josh Beckett (1-0) vs.

RH Dustin Moseley (0-0)


- Penny makes his first Red Sox start. . . . George Kottaras will make his debut as Wakefield's catcher.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 12, 2009

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