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Rays take the fifth

Rays take the fifth
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - On a night when the Red Sox truly, deeply and madly needed a long, productive and quality start, Justin Masterson appeared to be just the man for the job.

Then the heart of the Rays' lineup decided to place his application in the circular file cabinet.

An Evan Longoria grand slam in the fifth inning, followed by a Carlos Pena solo shot turned a 2-1 Red Sox lead into a 6-2 deficit as the visitors faced an uphill climb to avoid dropping the first two games of the series to their AL East rivals.

Andy Sonnanstine, who has struggled this season for the Rays but baffled the Red Sox last year, was good enough through the first five innings, allowing the two runs on seven hits.

A pair of singles was followed by two walks in the third inning, and that added up to a 1-0 Red Sox lead. Jason Bay's bases-loaded walk got the Sox on the board.

Two innings later, back-to-back doubles from Kevin Youkilis and J.D. Drew extended the Sox' lead to 2-0.

Unlike the last three poor, short outings from Red Sox starters, Masterson was clearly on his game in the early going.

Given the recent run of utter mediocrity (to be kind) from the rotation, Masterson's innings-eating effort stood out to even the casual observer and was appreciated by his teammates, especially the bullpen.

The first batter Masterson faced, B.J. Upton, reached on a single. The tall righty spent a lot of time throwing over to first base in an effort to hold Upton, but the speedster stole second anyway.

He tried third as well, but this time catcher Jason Varitek was up to the task. For Varitek, it was only the second baserunner he had thrown out in 20 attempts this season.

Masterson struck out both Carl Crawford and Longoria to end the inning.

In the second, Masterson got two quick outs against Pena and Pat Burrell before experiencing a temporary loss of control. He walked Gabe Gross and hit Akinori Iwamura, and suddenly needed a good break to get out of the inning.

He got one when Dioner Navarro sent a rocket right up the middle that Masterson, well off the mound at this point due to his follow-through, snared blindly with his glove behind his back and threw out a smiling Navarro at first base.

Masterson retired the next six batters he faced.

The first out in the fourth came when Longoria hit a ball that glanced off Masterson's back side, then directly to second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who threw out the Rays third baseman. The next batter, Pena, hit a ground ball down the first-base line that rolled right to the bag and popped straight up in the air. Youkilis caught it on the bounce and then stepped on the bag. The breaks stopped going Masterson's way in the fifth, and the Rays finally broke through.

Before the Longoria grand slam, it was clear that whatever was working for Masterson in the first four innings had been left on the bench. Gross led off with a single, then Iwamura walked. A sacrifice bunt by Navarro advanced the runners, then Masterson hit Jason Bartlett with a pitch. Upton hit a sacrifice fly to deep center, scoring Gross and allowing the two other runners to advance. After Masterson walked Crawford, Longoria came up and put the Rays in front.


Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 2, 2009

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