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Pete Lepak
RedSoxLife Staff Writer

Boston needed this win to stay in front of the AL East and slow down the surging Rays. Jon Lester needed it too, to save his season and show his fans and himself that he is a top tier pitcher in the majors. Both Boston and Lester got what they hoped for Tuesday afternoon, as Boston pulled away late and Lester pitched a gem to keep Boston 1 1/2 games in front of Tampa Bay in the standings. Lester's 6+ innings of two run baseball set the tone for the Red Sox offense, as they held a small lead until the eighth inning. Boston's bullpen of Matt Thornton, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara did not give up a hit in relief and preserved the win for Lester. Here are the four at bats that changed the game:

1) One Mistake Lester pitched a 1-2-3 first inning and was feeling good, but on his first pitch in the second inning to Wil Myers, he threw a sinker ball that didn't drop and Myers crushed it over the Green Monster for a 1-0 Rays lead.

2) Bad Base running The Red Sox countered in the bottom of the second with the first four men reaching base. What was the problem? After a David Ortiz single, Mike Napoli follows up with a knock of his own down the left field line. Ortiz looks to go to third on the play, but the ball bounces awkwardly directly into the path of the left fielder Sean Rodriquez, who guns Papi out at third with no outs. The poor base running move ends up hurting the Sox, as the next man up, Mike Carp, hits a single that would have easily scored both men, but instead, only Nap crosses the plate. The score is now knotted at 1.

3) Go go gadget legs! Shane Victorino leads off the third with a double, and gets to third on a Daniel Nava fly out. Dustin Pedroia is hit by a pitch, and the Sox have runners at the corners with one out. With David Ortiz up, manager John Farrell elects to run a double steal. On the pitch to Papi, Pedroia takes off for second and Victorino has a long lead at third. As soon as the ball is thrown to second, Victorino heads for home. The throw gets tangled in Pedroia on the slide, and Victorino steals home a run without a throw. 2-1 Sox.

4) Bottom of the Order Comes Through In the bottom of the eighth inning, Boston held a slim one run lead. But when Kyle Farnsworth came in to pitch for the Rays, that all changed. Napoli doubled and Jarrod Saltalamacchia singled to put runners at the corners. Struggling Stephen Drew singled in Napoli and then Jose Iglesias put the "nail in the coffin" when he hit a high bouncing ball over Evan Longoria's head at third base. When the ball dropped into shallow left field, Yunel Escobar tried to throw home to get Drew. The throw was on time but off the mark and Drew slid in safely to put the Sox up 7-3.

Koji Uehara threw an eleven pitch ninth inning and struck out two to end the game quickly for the Sox. Wednesday night, Boston faces the Rays and Ace David Price. The Red Sox will counter with their own lefty, Felix Doubront. First pitch is at 7:10pm.

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Peter Lepak 7/24/2013 11:05:00 AM Edit
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