Red Sox rally in sixth (again) to get by Rays
Here comes the sixth inning. Here come the Red Sox.
And there go the balls - singles to the infield, doubles down the line, homers over the fences.
One night after scoring an AL-record 12 runs before making an out in that inning, Boston sent five across with no outs in the sixth and beat the Tampa Bay Rays 7-3 Friday night.
"I think the sixth inning's our lucky charm," said Mike Lowell, who delivered a key double in the latest rally.
Jason Bay hit his second sixth-inning, three-run homer in two nights to tie the game 3-3. Then Lowell doubled and J.D. Drew drove the ball over the low right-field wall in front of the bullpens off James Shields (3-3).
"You kind of sense those guys getting hits, hitting the ball hard," Drew said. "Maybe he is leaving the ball up out over the plate a little bit more and you want to take advantage of that."
Bay has nine homers and 33 RBIs, second most in the AL, but would just as soon avoid the dramatics.
"It would be nice to kind of jump out early one time and kind of coast to one," he said. "It seems like we always make it interesting in the middle there."
Brad Penny (3-1) pitched well enough to give the Red Sox a chance to come back. He allowed three runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings after taking a loss against Shields five days earlier.
Shields also pitched well - five hits in five scoreless innings. But then he had to pitch the sixth and the momentum shifted quickly.
"Within a matter of something, 10 pitches almost," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "It was very fast."
Dustin Pedroia led off with an infield hit, one of his four singles, and David Ortiz walked before Bay's tying homer.
A moment after Bay made contact, an upset Shields swiped the mound dirt with a quick underhanded motion.
"The home runs didn't matter to me as much as that walk," Shields said. "If I bear down in those situations, we've got the win, no problem."
But Bay slammed a fastball that Shields left over the plate.
"You don't get a lot of good pitchers per at bat," Bay said, "and when you're not going well it seems like you're fouling those pitches off."
He also connected on Thursday when the Red Sox beat the Cleveland Indians 13-3 and tied the modern major-league record for most runs in an inning before an out.
On Friday, Boston improved to 17-5 in its last 22 games, while Tampa Bay's season-long winning streak ended at three.
Penny left with runners at first and second with one out in the seventh. Hideki Okajima then retired Carl Crawford on a fly out and struck out Evan Longoria.
Crawford had his second straight outstanding game against Penny and the Sox. Five days earlier in a 5-3 win over Boston, he tied a modern major-league record with six stolen bases and went 4-for-4, including 2-for-2 with a walk against Penny.
On Friday, Crawford singled, stole second and scored on Pat Burrell's single in the first, then tripled and made it 2-0 on a sacrifice fly by Longoria in the third. He hit a ground-rule double in the fifth but was stranded.
Just before Crawford came to bat in the seventh, Boston manager Terry Francona lifted the right-handed Penny for the lefty-lefty matchup that Okajima won.
"I thought it was very key for Oki to get Carl Crawford out because it seems like we haven't gotten him out in a week," Lowell said.
The Rays had taken a 3-0 lead in the fourth when Jason Bartlett doubled home Gabe Gross, who had singled.
The Red Sox added two runs in the ninth on a single by Lugo, a double by Jacoby Ellsbury and a single by Pedroia.
Shields is 1-2 against Boston this year. ... Of Crawford's major-league best 21 steals, 10 have been against Boston. ... Longoria's 11-game hitting streak ended. ... DH Ortiz and CF Ellsbury returned to Boston's lineup. Ortiz missed one game with a stiff neck and Ellsbury missed two with a tight right hamstring. 1B Kevin Youkilis sat out his fourth straight with tightness in his left side. ... Tampa Bay CF B.J. Upton was back in the lineup after a stomach virus kept him out of Thursday night's game at the New York Yankees.