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09/17/2011 - 8:05pm
Maddon: 'We do have a bunch of tough guys'

Outspoken Rays manager Joe Maddon was at it again after Saturday's 4-3 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park. He said the win on national TV proves his team can bounce back from a frustrating loss on Friday night and shows his team has the character it takes to compete for the American League wild card with the Red Sox and eventually overtake them. 

"Absolutely," Maddon said. "That, I think, validates by what I've thought, and that is we have a bunch of tough guys, that we're not intimidated by the opposition or the venue. And that's important. When you're playing at this time of year for all the marbles, you can't be intimidated by opposition or venue. 

"I've said it before, I think being in the AL East and playing in Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium and the new Yankee Stadium has helped us overcome the jitters that maybe some other groups may have. So, in a perverse way, this has worked out well for us, playing in this...

09/17/2011 - 7:42pm
Lester: 'This isn't our first go-round at this'

After the Red Sox' 4-3 loss to the Rays -- cutting Terry Francona's team's Wild Card lead over the Rays to three games -- Sox starter Jon Lester explained there is no panic among his team.

"This isn't our first go-round at this," Lester said. "We have plenty of guys in that clubhouse that have been here, gone to the postseason, gone to the World Series. This isn't like it's all new to everybody and we're just trying to get through it. I don't think anybody's pressing.

"It's easier when you're coming from behind than it is where we're at. I think that's probably the biggest thing because they have no pressure. We're the ones that need to play well. You know what, the past three nights I think we have but they've played better two out of three. We'll just keep grinding it out. We still have how many games left? Twelve, 13, somewhere in there? We've got a long way to go still. Like I said, keep grinding it out. It's a cliche, but...

09/17/2011 - 6:11pm
No bargain: Sox can't cash in, lose to Rays

Ben Zobrist clubbed a two-run homer in the first inning off Jon Lester and Jeff Niemann allowed four hits and two runs over five innings as the Rays edged the Red Sox, 4-3, Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park. As a result, the Red Sox lead in the American League wild card is back down to three games. 

Lester, who came in with a 5.14 ERA in the first inning, again struggled in the opening frame as he walked Desmond Jennings to begin the game. Lester appeared close to getting out of the first unscathed when he got B.J. Upton on a sacrifice bunt and Evan Longoria on a ground out. But Zobrist connected for his 16th homer on a 1-1 pitch. The homer just cleared the Green Monster and gave the Rays a 2-0 lead. 

The Rays made it 3-0 in the third when Jennings doubled and came around to score on a Lester wild pitch. The Red Sox finally responded in the bottom of the third when Friday night's hero Mike Aviles doubled home Carl Crawford. Jacoby...

09/17/2011 - 5:39pm
Buchholz 'pretty optimistic' after side session

Clay Buchholz was 'pretty optimistic' after executing his first bullpen session since being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his back.The righty tossed 30 pitches off the bullpen mound at what he estimated was 75 percent ("80 percent at the end," he said).

Buchholz, who had right-handed batter Conor Jackson stand in the batters box during the session, is eyeing throwing a simulated game, perhaps either Monday or Tuesday.

"I felt good today," said Buchholz, who tossed off a mound for the first time since his diagnosis, Thursday. "Threw everything. Had Conor Jackson standing in as a hitter, gave a little more feel to it. Had no issues with the back today; it felt fine. If anything, the arm strength's not quite there with four seams. But there are no issues as far as the back goes."

While Buchholz hopes to be ready to make an appearance before the end of the regular season, he is also resigned to the fact that...

09/17/2011 - 4:25pm
Bedard on side session: 'It's a happy day'

Erik Bedard took a step toward returning to the Red Sox' rotation Saturday, throwing his first bullpen session since being sidelined following his Sept. 3 start.

The lefty threw approximately 35 pitches under the watch of pitching coach Curt Young prior to the Red Sox' game against the Rays, reporting no pain in either his injured lat or knee.

"No, I don't think so," Bedard said when asked if there was any problems during the side session. "I'll have to see how it reacts. The next day is the big key."

Bedard said he didn't feel any discomfort in his lat at all while throwing, a marked improvement from even a few days before. And while he continued to wear a brace on his knee, he called the difference between throwing this time compared to his last start as "night and day" when talking about the injury.

"It's a happy day," he said. "We'll see how I feel tomorrow and we'll go from there....

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