Strong outing by Lester goes wasted

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Strong outing by Lester goes wasted

OAKLAND -- Jon Lester has frequently complained that his results this season haven't matched his pitching.

Tuesday night, that was certainly the case.

Lester limited the Oakland A's to a single run on four hits in 6 23 innings, but walked away with a no-decision when the Sox blew a 2-1 lead in the ninth for a frustrating 3-2 loss to the A's.

"I feel good," said Lester. "I don't feel like I threw the ball any different than I did the last couple of starts. But when I needed to make pitches, I did."

Lester allowed a solo homer to Coco Crisp in the first and a walk to Jemile Weeks, then retired 14 of the next 15 hitters he faced. After the first inning, he allowed just two baserunners -- both on singles.

"I just was able to execute pitches," said Lester. "That's what it always ends up coming down to in the end."

Lester threw 31 pitches in the first inning, but became far more efficient the rest of the way, needing just 76 for the final 5 23 innings.

"I think I just got in a better rhythm," said Lester. "The first inning, I struggled a little bit, locating. I think going into the stretch helped me a little bit. I wasn't trying to rush too much and made sure I stayed back over the rubber. After that, it was just (about) trying to get outs. I wasn't really worried about pitch counts or anything -- just get outs as quick as we could and try to get as deep into the game as we could."

Lester didn't get much in the way of run support.

"I'm not worried about runs," he said. "The main thing is, we lost. We played our butts off; it just didn't happen for us tonight You've got to tip your hat to those guys. They had a good plan in the ninth and executed it and scored those two runs. Obviously, that's the difference in the game.

"It was one of those nights where they had the momentum going into the ninth and we didn't. It is what it is."

Red Sox secure playoff with 6-4 win over Rays

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Red Sox secure playoff with 6-4 win over Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Dustin Pedroia hit his fourth career grand slam to help Rick Porcello get his major league-leading 22nd win, and the Boston Red Sox clinched a playoff berth by beating the Tampa Bay Rays 6-4 Saturday night for their 10th consecutive win.

Boston maintained a 5 1/2-game lead over Toronto for the division title and ensured no worse than the AL's second wild card. While the Red Sox technically have a magic number of one, the Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles play each other three times in the season's final week - meaning only one of them can win match Boston's 91 wins.

Among the other wild-card contenders, only Detroit can reach 91 victories.

Pedroia stopped an 0-for-17 skid with a single in the sixth and gave Boston a 6-3 lead with a seventh-inning drive off Danny Farquhar.

Porcello (22-4) gave up three runs, eight hits and struck out nine over 6 1/3 innings. He just missed getting his 12th consecutive start of seven or more innings and three runs or fewer, which would have moved him past Cy Young (1904) and Pedro Martinez (2000) for the longest stretch during the same season in franchise history.

Craig Kimbrel, the fifth Boston reliever, reached 30 saves for the sixth straight season despite allowing Logan Forsythe's solo homer in the ninth.

Brad Miller hit a two-run double in a three-run second that put Tampa Bay up 3-1 and gave him 80 RBIs.

Tampa Bay threatened in the second but failed to score due to two nice defensive plays. Pedroia made a throw from just in front of the outfield grass at second base on Mikie Mahtook's grounder to get Corey Dickerson at the plate. Third baseman Brock Holt made a solid play along the line on Alexei Ramirez's grounder and threw him out at first to end the inning.

Farrell: Sandoval could possibly return to Red Sox for postseason

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Farrell: Sandoval could possibly return to Red Sox for postseason

Thought to be lost for the season after shoulder surgery this past spring, Pablo Sandoval could possibly return to the Red Sox for the postseason, Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters Saturday.

Sandoval joined the team in St. Petersburg, where the Red Sox are playing the Tampa Bay Rays. Farrell said Sandoval had played in instructional league games in Florida and was "well ahead of schedule."

He could be an option to be activated if another player is injured. 

“One of the things I put in my mind that I have to work,” Sandoval told Boston Herald. “I learned a lot of things about this surgery so I had to work hard to be on the field as soon as possible.

“There are a lot of things I’ve been doing, working out, doing things so I can get better and better everyday.”

Sandoval, 30, is in the second year of a five-year, $95 contract. He lost his starting third base job to Travis Shaw in spring training and in April an MRI revealed he needed surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder, which was to have ended his season.

He appeared in only three games this season and hit .245 with 10 homers and 47 RBI in 126 games in 2015.