Rays 3, Red Sox 2

When Kevin Youkilis limped off the field and into the Boston

clubhouse, he just as well could have taken David Ortiz, too.

With the Red Sox cleanup hitter out of the game because of pain

in his right ankle, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon decided that under

no circumstances would he give the other slugger in Boston’s

injury-riddled lineup a chance to beat the Rays on Tuesday

night.

“That was a fortuitous moment for us,” said Maddon, who

ordered Ortiz walked three times intentionally – once putting the

potential tying run in scoring position – on the way to a 3-2

victory at Tropicana Field.

“That was very unfortunate for them,” Maddon added. “But once

that occurred, I said: ‘Ortiz is done.”’

Jeff Niemann (7-2) limited the Red Sox to four hits and an

unearned run over six innings, and Tampa Bay’s bullpen shut down

Boston for the second day in a row.

Niemann walked three and struck out five to win for the first

time since a complete game shutout against Toronto on June 8. After

winning his first six decisions of the season, the 6-foot-9

right-hander went 0-2 over four starts.

Jason Bartlett drove in Tampa Bay’s first run with a

third-inning single off Felix Doubront (1-1), a 22-year-old

left-hander filling in for injured All-Star pitcher Clay Buchholz.

Sean Rodriguez tripled and scored on John Jaso’s grounder, giving

the Rays a 2-1 lead in the fifth.

Carl Crawford’s solo homer off Hideki Okajima added an insurance

run in the eighth.

Daniel Nava drove in Boston’s first run with a fourth-inning

single off Niemann. Four Rays relievers held the Red Sox to one hit

until Bill Hall walked and scored on Eric Patterson’s two-out

triple in the ninth off Rafel Soriano.

Soriano, who earned his 23rd save in 24 chances, walked Ortiz

intentionally before getting Youkilis replacement Niuman Romero to

ground out to end the game.

The Rays also walked Ortiz with two outs in the seventh, moving

the possible tying run into scoring position before Romero – who

went 0 for 4 – grounded out against Lance Cormier.

“It’s part of the game,” said Ortiz, who has been walked

intentionally four times in the first two games of this three-game

series. “You have to do what you have to do to win.”

The victory was the fourth straight for the Rays, who have won

six of seven to move ahead of Boston into second place in the AL

East.

“Listen, I don’t take anything for granted, man,” Maddon said

of his strategy. “It just falls under the category of it was the

right thing to do at that moment. There’s no other way to look at

it as far as I was concerned.”

Youkilis was removed from the game in the fourth inning because

of pain in his right ankle. X-rays were negative, and he said

there’s a chance he may play in Wednesday’s series finale.

“I wish I could tell you what happened. Just basically out in

the field and felt like I had a cramp in my ankle, which is the

most strange thing ever,” Youkilis said. “Somehow I irritated the

capsule, so my ankle locked up. I’ll be good to go tomorrow.”

Youkilis was on his way to the plate to lead off the inning

before stepping away from the batter’s box, leaning over and

clutching his foot. He sat on the ground while a trainer examined

him before getting up and limping to the dugout on his own

power.

“I don’t think that changes the whole game. There’s other

opportunties and other players on the team that can do stuff,”

Youkilis said. “You don’t win or lose by one player on the

team.”

Doubront, who beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in his big league

debut at Fenway Park on June 18, allowed two runs and five hits

over 5 2-3 innings. He struck out three and walked four – three in

the fifth inning – before turning a bases-loaded jam over to

reliever Scott Atchison.

Tampa Bay’s bullpen held the Red Sox scoreless over the last

five innings of a 6-5 Rays victory on Monday night. It was equally

effective Tuesday, with Soriano becoming the first Tampa Bay

pitcher to earn a save on four consecutive days.

“I just think we’re getting proverbial mojo back,” Maddon

said. “We’re playing better. We feel better about ourselves. The

confidence is coming back and we’re winning some close games.”

NOTES: Boston RHP Josh Beckett, on the disabled list since May

19 with a strained lower back, could rejoin the rotation in just

over two weeks. Beckett threw 65 pitches over four innings in a

simulated game against Red Sox minor leaguers and is scheduled to

pitch for Triple-A Pawtucket on Sunday. … Red Sox OF Jacoby

Ellsbury (broken ribs) has resumed throwing and might rejoin the

team this weekend to continue his rehab program.