Youkilis, Sox sink Devil Rays


BOSTON (AP) – Kevin Youkilis hit a tiebreaking two-run double in the eighth inning and Manny Ramirez took another step out of his deep slump with three RBIs to help the Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 7-4 Tuesday night.

Tampa Bay had tied the game in the top of the eighth on Russell Branyan’s two-run double off Mike Timlin (2-0).

Mike Lowell started the bottom half with a double, his sixth in seven games, off Ruddy Lugo (0-1) and pinch-hitter Trot Nixon walked. Adam Stern’s attempted sacrifice bunt ended with Lowell forced out at third and Alex Gonzalez struck out. Then Youkilis, batting leadoff since Coco Crisp went on the disabled list April 11, doubled off the left-center field wall against Chad Orvella, scoring Nixon and Stern. Mark Loretta then singled home Youkilis for a 7-4 lead.

Jonathan Papelbon got in a bases-loaded jam in the ninth but held on for his seventh save in seven chances, breaking the Red Sox record for saves by a rookie in one month set by Jeff Gray in 1990.

He struck out Joey Gathright then allowed a single before striking out Jorge Cantu. Papelbon then issued his first two walks of the season to Travis Lee and Jonny Gomes. Damon Hollins followed with a sinking liner to center field and Stern, a defensive replacement in the eighth, raced in for a diving catch.

Until Youkilis’ double, Ramirez was the hitting star of Boston’s third straight win.

The slugger entered the game with 11 hits, all singles, and a .239 batting average. He began snapping out of his slump in his previous two games, going 3-for-7. He had been just 2-for-21 in the six games before that.

But he doubled home the first run of the game in the third off Casey Fossum after David Ortiz doubled. Ramirez singled in two more runs in Boston’s three-run seventh.

The Devil Rays finally scored off Matt Clement in the seventh when they took a 2-1 lead on Ty Wigginton’s leadoff homer, his sixth of the season, and back-to-back doubles by Toby Hall and Tomas Perez.

The Red Sox made it 4-2 in the bottom half when Wily Mo Pena walked, took second on Gonzalez’s sacrifice and third on a wild pitch. He scored on a forceout at second before Ortiz doubled and Ramirez singled.

Notes: The Devil Rays used an extreme shift on lefty Ortiz’s first two at-bats. They used four outfielders, two players on the outfield grass on the right side and the first baseman in his usual position. There were no players on the left side of the infield. Ortiz grounded to shortstop Perez, playing to the right of second base, then doubled off the left-field wall. … The first four hitters in Boston’s lineup went 7-for-18 with seven RBIs. … Every Tampa Bay starter reached base.

AP-ES-04-18-06 2228EDT