April 12, 2011: Rays 3, Red Sox 2

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April 12, 2011: Rays 3, Red Sox 2

By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Jon Lester has found a cure for his early-season struggles. Now if he could just get some run support.

Lester limited the Tampa Bay Rays to three runs over seven innings, but the Sox managed just two runs off David Price in a battle of ace lefties and dropped their ninth game in 11 tries, 3-2 to the Rays.

Lester has allowed three earned runs in his last 14 innings, but is 0-1 in those starts. The Red Sox lost both games, scoring just three runs in the two contests.

The Sox closed to within a run in the sixth when Dustin Pedroia doubled to center, took third on a groundout and scored on a double to right by Jed Lowrie.

But Lowrie was stranded and the Sox squandered another chance in the eighth when they couldn't cash in with runners on first and second and two out. For the game, the Sox were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position; since Saturday, they are 7-for-52 in those situations.

Tampa Bay collected all three of its runs in the fifth when it loaded the bases against Lester. The first run crossed the plate when Adrian Gonzalez fielded a squibber by Sam Fuld, but couldn't grip the ball to make a timely throw to the plate as a run scored.

Johnny Damon, who knocked in two runs in Monday's rout, continued to haunt his old team with a two-run single to center.

The Red Sox scored first on a long solo homer to left by Darnell McDonald leading off the third.

Player of the Game: David Price

Price came into the game with an 0-2 mark and a 4.98 ERA, but Tuesday night he looked like the Cy Young Award contender that he was in 2010.

The lefty limited the Red Sox to just two runs on five hits in 7 23 innings. With his pitch count spiraling, Price was still able to throw his fastball in the mid-90s in his last few innings.

In career starts at Fenway, Price is now 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA. Perhaps more impressively, he's 17-4 with a 2.76 ERA in 27 games against opponents from the A.L. East.

Honorable Mention: Johnny Damon

On Monday night, Damon homered on the first pitch he saw and later added another run-scoring hit. Tuesday, he broke a 1-1 tie with a two-run single in the Rays' three-run fifth, delivering what proved to be the winning runs.

In two games against the Sox, Damon has five hits, or one more than he had in his previous 32 at-bats before this series began.

The Goat: Adrian Gonzalez

Gonzalez was hitless in four trips to the plate, stranding two runners. But the bigger issue was taking too long to get a throw to catcher Jason Varitek when he fielded a swinging bunt by Sam Fuld in the fifth. That allowed the tying run to score and paved the way for Tampa Bay's three-run inning.

The Turning Point

Damon's two-run single in the fifth broke up a 1-1 game and provided the winning margin for the Rays.

The Numbers: 2

For the fourth time in 11 games this season, the Red Sox failed to score more than two runs.

Quote of Note:

"We don't have a lot of wins ourselves. It's not about Jon; it's about us.'' -- Jason Varitek on Jon Lester's tough-luck 0-1 start despite a 3.72 ERA.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics have no answer for Lowry

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics have no answer for Lowry

BOSTON — For most of Friday night’s game, the Boston Celtics played the kind of game that on most nights would result in a victory. 

But Toronto is one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference with talent, depth and an undeniable desire to win at all costs. 

One strong quarter by the Raptors was just enough to put away the Celtics, 101-94. 

And it came in the third when Toronto outscored Boston 33-18 which turned out to be the only quarter the Raptors (16-7) outscored the Celtics. 

“They got hot; made some tough shots,” said Boston’s Marcus Smart. “The tough shots kind of hurt us.”

The tough shots and a flawless 8-for-8 performance from the free throw line. 

While it’s a 48-minute game, there was no getting around the fact that it was Toronto’s dominance in the third that ultimately determined the game’s outcome. 

“If you look at it from our perspective it’s what went wrong; if you look at it from theirs, they ratcheted up the defense quite a bit (in the third quarter),” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “It was hard for us to break their … break their wall of defense.”

In the third quarter, Boston shot just 27.8 percent from the field, 30 percent (3-for-10) on 3’s and a woeful 5-for-10 from the free throw line. 

“We started making everything difficult for them and not letting them get that easy in and try to take advantage of that,” said Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Friday night’s game.

 

STARS

Kyle Lowry

The Celtics had no answer for the All-Star point guard who led all players with 34 points, 21 of which came in the second half. 

Avery Bradley

Bradley was the lone Celtics starter who seemed to be in a good shooting flow, tallying 19 points on 7-for-11 shooting which included five made 3’s. 

DeMar DeRozan

The Celtics made him work a lot harder than he usually does to score, but he still managed to tally 24 points – just four points below his season average – on 9-for-25 shooting.

 

STUDS

Al Horford

He made a few more turnovers than usual, but Horford still put together a relatively balanced performance. He had 19 points and seven rebounds with six assists and a blocked shot. 

Norman Powell

The X-factor in Friday’s outcome had to be Powell. A 5.8 points per game scorer this season, Powell had 20 points on 7-for-10 shooting along with a game-high five steals. 

 

DUDS

Jae Crowder

With Isaiah Thomas (right groin) out, the Celtics really needed its core starters to step up and have a productive night offensively. Crowder just didn’t have it going on Friday, scoring just seven points on 2-for-11 shooting which included a number of 3s that rimmed in and out on him.