Lester, Ellsbury lift Red Sox past Rays in Game 1

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Lester, Ellsbury lift Red Sox past Rays in Game 1

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON Jon Lester rebounded from a shaky first two innings in the first game of Tuesdays doubleheader against the Rays at Fenway Park, and the Red Sox won, 3-1.

In the first two innings, Lester faced 10 batters, allowing two hits, a walk, and a hit batter, but limited the Rays to one run. After hitting Sean Rodriguez with a pitch and walking Kelly Shoppach on four pitches in the second, Lester retired the next 12 consecutive batters before allowing another hit.

Lester went seven innings, giving up one run on three hits and a walk with eight strikeouts, improving to 12-6, with a 3.22 ERA.

Jacoby Ellsburys 21st home run of the season gave Lester all the run support he would need. Ellsbury hit a three-run shot into the visitors' bullpen off Rays starter James Shields, scoring Josh Reddick and Mike Aviles to make the score 3-1 in the third inning.

Reddick and Aviles singled to start the rally, and the three hits in the inning were the only hits Shields allowed. Despite extending his league-leading complete game total to nine, he fell to 11-10.

Daniel Bard pitched a perfect eighth and Jonathan Papelbon did the same in the ninth for his 28th save.

The Sox, who entered the day tied with the Yankees for the American League East lead, picked up a half-game.

The night cap is scheduled to start at 7:10 with Erik Bedard (4-7, 3.55 ERA, with two no decisions with the Sox), facing Jays right-hander Jeff Niemann (7-4, 3.43).

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Hanley Ramirez's shoulder already a concern for Red Sox heading into WBC

Hanley Ramirez's shoulder already a concern for Red Sox heading into WBC

Another year, another injury concern for Hanley Ramirez. This time, though, it's a bit more complicated.

Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell told the media Monday that Ramirez hadn't played any first base during spring training yet due to discomfort in his right throwing shoulder.

“Well, we’re working through ramping up his throwing program,” Farrell said, via WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. “That has taken a little bit more time than anticipated coming in so we’ve got to kind of take that day to day how much we can increase the intensity with the throwing. He’s just working through some soreness with the throwing.”

As Bradford points out, Ramirez and the Red Sox went through the same process last year. Where it differs this time around is Ramirez's scheduled participation in the World Baseball Classic: He's expected to report to Team Domincan Republic on Friday, which means the Red Sox won't be monitoring his every move on the field (though the two training staffs will be communicating daily, also per Bradford).

Ramirez isn't the only first baseman on the roster, with the Cleveland Indians' Carlos Santana there as well. So will Ramirez be jumping into game action anytime soon?

“I don’t know what I’m going to do. They haven’t told me anything,” Ramirez told WEEI.com “I’m just going to go there and see.”

Boston pitchers strike out 14, but Red Sox still fall to Rays, 7-3

Boston pitchers strike out 14, but Red Sox still fall to Rays, 7-3

The appearance of Tampa Bay Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough almost got the Boston Red Sox back in their spring training exhibition game. The Sox managed to score all three of their runs against the 25-year-old in their 7-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida on Sunday.

But the Rays, who scored runs in five different innings, managed to widen their lead in the eighth inning by beating up on Sox lefty Luis Isla, a 24-year-old who spent last season with Portland and Pawtucket. In the eighth, Rays' Joe McCarthy homered and Luke Maile managed an RBI single, which cappped off the scoring in the contest. Sox starter Hector Velazquez allowed three hits and an earned run in his two innnings. The 28-year-old, who spent 2016 in the Mexican League, still managed to amass four strikeouts.

"I was a little nervous at the start, being in the United States for the first time and playing for a big league club for the first time," Velazquez told RedSox.com through an interpreter. "But once I got the first out, all the nerves went away, and I was able to bear down."

Despite allowing two homers, Boston pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts.

With the exception of the Sox' inning against Yarbrough, Boston's veterans and prospects struggled mighltily against the Rays pitching staff. Chris Archer started for Tampa, and set the tone in the first two innings, where he threw two strikeouts, one walk and allowed one hit and no runs. Andrew Benintendi (0-for-3), Sam Travis (0-for-2) and Bryce Brentz (0-for-3) went hitless on the day. Travis, however, reached base on balls.

"I felt good. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish," Archer said, via the Red Sox' team website. "Just out there having fun, it was really fun to be out there in the spectrum with the umpire, the fans, the batter. It was fun."

Marco Hernandez's triple got the Sox' eighth-inning off to a strong start, and singles from Matt Dominguez, Deven Marrero, Rusney Castillo and Cole Sturgeon followed. The Sox' eighth inning scoring ended after Castillo got thrown out by left fielder McCarthy at third. Six Red Sox finished with one-hit outings, including Brock Holt and Blake Swihart.

The Sox will next host the St. Louis Cardinals in Fort Myers on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET.