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Red Sox ride another big sixth to win

Red Sox ride another big sixth to win

BOSTON -- There was no history involved this time, just a couple of towering shots. For the second consecutive night, a sixth-inning surge was all that the Red Sox needed to turn a deficit into a win.

On the strength of Jason Bay's latest clutch home run, a three-run equalizer, and J.D. Drew's two-run rocket into the visitors' bullpen, the Red Sox rallied their way to a 7-3 victory over the Rays on Friday.

Both long balls came in a five-run bottom of the sixth, helping the Red Sox out of a 3-0 hole. On Thursday night at Fenway, Boston trailed, 2-1, vs. the Indians entering the bottom of the sixth before scoring 12 runs without making an out to set an American League record.

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"We certainly didn't do much the first five innings -- a little bit like last night," said manager Terry Francona, who is now tied with Bill Carrigan for the third-most wins in franchise history. "[Rays starter James Shields] was going right through us, and he was pretty economical in his innings. All of a sudden, we get a couple of baserunners, and there's Jason Bay again."

Yes, Bay is the opposing team's worst nightmare these days when he comes to the plate in crucial situations. He leaned into a 93-mph fastball from Shields and mauled it off one of the light stanchions above the Green Monster.

The left fielder, subbing in the cleanup spot for the ailing Kevin Youkilis, went deep for the second night in a row, and the fourth time in the past five games. Bay has reached a torrid state over those five games, going 8-for-20 and driving in 12 runs.

Moving on up
With the Red Sox's 7-3 victory over the Rays on Friday night at Fenway Park, manager Terry Francona tied Bill Carrigan for third-most wins in franchise history.
Manager
Wins
Years
Joe Cronin1,0711935-47
Mike Higgins5601955-59; 60-62
Terry Francona4892004-present
Bill Carrigan4891913-16; 27-29

"This is a very hot stretch, and it's very hard to keep that up for an entire year, but I'm riding it out," said Bay. "When things kind of settle down a little, you have to keep the same demeanor out there."

Mike Lowell kept the momentum going, following Bay's homer with a double to left. Then it was Drew's turn.

Though Drew has been in the background during the early portion of the season, the left-handed hitter reminded everyone what he is capable of when he gets a pitch he likes. This one happened to be an 80-mph changeup by Shields.

"Changeup up in the zone," said Drew. "[I was] just able to get the barrel through it and fortunately, it gets out."

Perhaps there was a bit of a ripple effect.

"We feed off each other to get things rolling," said Drew. "Jason hit that big three-run homer in that situation, and Mike came up and doubled. You feel like you've got a chance to maybe have a big inning. Like I said, I wanted to get a pitch out and over the plate to see if I could get the barrel to it."

Brad Penny benefited from the quick turn of events, improving to 3-1 on the season. The big righty went 6 1/3 innings, giving up eight hits and three runs.

"These guys, it's amazing," Penny said. "If it's a close game, with the power and speed we have, anybody can hit the ball out of the park or score runs."

Penny gave up a quick run in the first, as Carl Crawford picked up right where he left off at Tropicana Field last weekend, pestering the Sox. The left fielder singled and stole second and wound up scoring on Pat Burrell's single to left.

When the Rays got back on the board in the third, Crawford was again right in the middle of the action. This time, he tripled to left, putting him in position to score on Evan Longoria's sacrifice fly to right.

Though the Rays hardly pounded Penny, they did manage to chip away. Jason Bartlett made it 3-0 in the fourth with an RBI double to left.

"His last two innings, I thought, were outstanding," said catcher Jason Varitek. "He was throwing strike one, getting a lot of one-pitch outs. He ended up having a nice, quality start. Going into the seventh for us is big. He kind of minimized the damage and kept us with an opportunity."

With two on and one out in the seventh, and the Red Sox clinging to a 5-3 lead, Francona went out to get Penny. Enter Hideki Okajima, who swiftly retired Crawford and Longoria, two players who have done plenty of damage against the Red Sox.

The lefty got Crawford on a flyout and struck out Longoria.

"That was a huge situation right there," said Varitek. "Oki was able to make his pitches."

Ramon Ramirez and Jonathan Papelbon made a few of their own, closing out the Rays to solidify Boston's latest comeback.

"It's been pretty crazy," said Lowell. "I think our offense has that ability to put together four, five, six good at-bats, and that bodes well, being able to come back even when you're down more than just one run."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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