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Rays 9, Red Sox 3

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FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP)

Jeff Niemann is heading to the regular season on a positive note.

Niemann threw six scoreless innings, Evan Longoria homered and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Boston Red Sox 9-3 on Monday night.

Nevin Ashley went 3 for 3 with a solo homer for Tampa Bay. Niemann allowed seven hits, walked one and struck out six.

``That was a great one to end the spring on,'' Niemann said. ``Everything was working, and I felt good.''

The 27-year-old right-hander, who went 13-6 with a 3.94 ERA last year, called facing the Red Sox ``a true test.''

``It lets you really know where you are because sometimes you get away with things that you're not going to get away with when you've got those guys in the lineup,'' he said.

Josh Beckett pitched six innings for Boston in his last spring outing before facing the New York Yankees on Sunday night in the major league opener. He allowed three runs, two earned, and six hits with a walk and eight strikeouts.

``I think he feels good about himself,'' Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. ``He should. He's strong. He looks ready to go.''

Beckett missed part of the spring with an illness but was satisfied he got enough work to be prepared for the season.

``It was kind of haunting me there for a little while because I was worried about falling too far behind,'' he said. ``And the training staff and the doctors and everything did the best they could and that's probably why I'm here.''

NOTES: Mike Lowell went 2 for 3 for Boston. ... The Red Sox optioned C Dusty Brown and INF Kevin Frandsen to Triple-A Pawtucket, and reassigned INF Jorge Jimenez and C Gustavo Molina to minor league camp. They now have 35 players in camp.

Tagged: Red Sox, Rays

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