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Sixth sense still works


Sixth sense still works
There's just something about the sixth inning.

One night after exploding for 12 straight runs without an out against the Indians, the Sox opened with five straight runs against the Rays in the sixth, turning a 3-0 deficit into a 5-3 lead on home runs by Jason Bay (three-run) and J.D. Drew (two-run).

It was anyone's game from there, but the Sox at least made themselves relevant on a night they began a distant third on the Boston sports scene, thanks to playoff games for the Bruins and Celtics.

Until that point, it wasn't looking like a recipe for a rousing victory, not with their recent tormentors in town. For a while it looked like Tampa Bay's mastery of the Sox was going to continue. The Rays jumped on the Sox in the first, carrying a 3-0 lead into the sixth.

The Rays struck right out of the chutes. Carl Crawford singled with one out off Brad Penny and one pitch later was off, stealing second. With the memory of last weekend's six-steal game fresh in everyone's mind, Fenway Park groaned. Crawford came around two batters later on Pat Burrell's two-out single.

The Rays added to their lead in the third. Crawford led off with a triple to left on a medium pop up the line that landed just beyond the reach of a sliding Jason Bay at the foul line. Replays suggested the ball landed in foul territory, but it bounced to the wall and Crawford cruised into third. He scored on Evan Longoria's sacrifice fly.

The Rays made it 3-0 against Penny in the fourth when Gabe Gross singled, took second on a groundout and scored on Jason Bartlett's double.

By this point, the Celtics trailed the Magic by double digits late in the third quarter, so Bay decided to give fans a reason to change the channel over to NESN plus. His three-run shot continued an astounding run of clutch hits - all nine of his homers have come in the sixth inning or later - and tied things off Scott Shields, who had scattered six hits to that point.

Mike Lowell followed with a hustling double to left and scored ahead of Drew's high-arcing bomb into the bullpen to give the Sox their first lead of the night.

Penny left with one out in the sixth after one of his best outings of the season. Other than Crawford, who singled, doubled and tripled, Penny largely held the Rays at bay. The outing was very similar to the six-inning, three-run outing he authored in his last start against the Rays, a loss on Sunday. This time, though, he left with the lead.

That was in marked contrast to the way the last six Sox -Rays series have gone, in general, when Tampa Bay typically took a lead and didn't let go.

- jtomase@bostonherald.com


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 9, 2009

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