Bullpen picks up where it left off

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Bullpen picks up where it left off

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Bobby Valentine wasted no time putting his bullpen back to work Friday, the first day after the All-Star break.

With the benefit of four days' rest, the relievers were rested and ready and Valentine took full advantage as the Red Sox edged the Tampa Bay Rays, 3-1.

Starter Franklin Morales blanked the Rays on just two hits through the first five innings and could have gone another inning after throwing 90 innings.

"First time back,'' explained Valentine, "I didn't really want to bring the bullpen in with men on base if he got in trouble again in the sixth.''

Arms fresh, Valentine could mix and match as he saw fit. Atchison faced four hitters, allowing a two-out double which produced an unearned run thanks to an error by Mike Aviles.

Andrew Miller allowed an infield single to pinch-hitter Brooks Conrad, the only hitter he faced, putting runners at first-and-third. But Matt Albers fanned Desmond Jennings to end the threat, then retired the side in order in the seventh, adding two more strikeouts.

"We were able to come in and pick up Frankie,'' said Albers. "Those few days off were great. I used my sinker, curve ball and slider. Obviously, it kind of depends on how the games go, but with everybody rested, a lot of guys had a chance to pitch.''

Next came the duo of Vicente Padilla (eighth) and Alfredo Aceves, who got the Rays in order for his 20th save of the season.

"It's gone really good,'' said Albers of the bullpen's performance. "We all have each others' backs out there. Roles sometimes change depending on how much guys throw, but everybody has a chance to get rest after they throw. It's been good. We have guys who can do different roles.

"(Valentine) has tried to put us in position to make us successful. Obviously, if me and Atch can face righthanded hitters, that's going to benefit us. Andrew can get anybody out, but he's even more effective against lefties. And I think (using everybody) keeps everybody's pitch counts down, as well.''