Romero, Blue Jays shut down Red Sox, 3-1

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Romero, Blue Jays shut down Red Sox, 3-1

TORONTO -- For the second straight start this year, Jon Lester was brilliant. And for the second straight start, he was left with nothing to show for his effort.

Lester limited the Toronto Blue Jays to just three runs on three hits over eight innings, but that was two more runs than his teammates could manage off lefty Ricky Romero as the Toronto Blue Jays edged the Red Sox, 3-1.

Romero went 8 13 innings and limited the Sox to just three hits. He walked the first two hitters he faced in the ninth and was lifted for Sergio Santos with the potential tying run in scoring position. But Santos, who blew up in the ninth in the series opener Monday, nailed down the win by getting the two final outs, striking out Kevin Youkilis and getting David Ortiz on a groundout.

Until the Jays tacked on a late run in the bottom of the eighth. Every run in the game came in the third inning. The Red Sox pieced together three singles in the top of the inning with Jacoby Ellsbury snapping a 2-for-21 skid by slicing a single to left, scoring Mike
Aviles from second.

But the Jays quickly countered in the bottom of the inning, using a single by Eric Thames, a wild pitch, a triple from Rajai Davis and a sacrifice fly from Yunel Escobar to score twice.

After Ellsbury's single, Romero, 1-0, retired the next 17 hitters in a row. Lester got on a similar roll, retiring the next 15 Toronto hitters before issuing a two-walk to Davis in
the bottom of the eighth.

Following a stolen base by Davis, Escobar singled to center and the Jays had themselves an insurance run.

Romero came into the game with a career ERA of 7.12 against the Red Sox.

The loss dropped the Red Sox to 1-5, marginally better than their 0-6 mark on the first road trip of last season.

In four of their five losses to date, the Red Sox have scored three runs or fewer and have managed more than four runs only once.

Report: Patriots DT Branch wins appeal of four-game suspension

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Report: Patriots DT Branch wins appeal of four-game suspension

FOXBORO -- Alan Branch knew he had a good case, otherwise he wouldn't have appealed. It was just a question of when that appeal might be heard. 

As of Wednesday, the Patriots defensive tackle hadnt heard anything as it related to the appeal of his four-game suspension. But by Saturday morning, according to Field Yates of ESPN, Branch had won the appeal and been cleared of the league's ban. 

Word of Branch's punishment stemming from a positive marijuana test became public when reported by ESPN on Nov. 21. Per the league's substance abuse policy, appeal hearings are typically scheduled for the fourth Tuesday after a player has been informed of his penalty. The policy notes that it is possible for appeals to be heard on another date should the two sides be able to work out different schedule, but Branch was not optimistic that would be the case earlier this week. 

Good news came quickly, apparently. 

Had Branch been forced to miss any time, it would have docked the Patriots arguably their top interior defensive lineman. Branch has started every game, and he leads all Patriots defensive tackles with 457 snaps played. 

The Patriots recently waived running back DJ Foster and signed defensive tackle Darius Kilgo, seemingly as a way to build some depth on the roster behind Branch if Branch had been suspended. 

By having his four-game suspension wiped away not only are the Patriots saved from having to deal without one of their top players in the trenches, but Branch saved himself a relatively hefty financial penalty.

A four-game ban would have cost him nearly $300,000 in base salary as well as four game-day bonuses adding to $100,000. And he stood to lose as much as $750,000 in season-long playing-time incentives. In all, had the suspension stood, it could have cost him about $1.1 million. Patriots salary-cap expert Miguel Benzan goes into more detail about the potential financial impact of Branch's suspension here

Thankfully for Branch, he doesn't have to worry about that any longer. With this situation in the rear view, he can focus on helping the Patriots win games during the stretch run of the regular season and into the playoffs.