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09/09/2011 - 9:08pm
Rays dominate Lackey, Red Sox

John Lackey allowed five runs in just three innings before exiting after being hit on the left leg by a line drive, and the Red Sox dropped to 6-8 in their last 14 games, and 1-4 in their last five, as Tampa Bay crushed the Sox, 7-2. The Rays are now within 5 1/2 games of the Red Sox in the wild card; the Sox have 18 games left, while Tampa Bay has 17 contests remaining, including seven against Boston.

Lackey was touched for a three-run homer by Rays catcher John Jaso in the second, then gave up two more runs in the third before a Jaso liner back up the middle ricocheted off the pitcher's shin. While Lackey recovered to pick up the ball (which had rolled to the first-base line) and throw out the runner at first to end the inning, his night was over. On the year, he is now 12-12 with a 6.30 ERA -- the highest ERA ever for a Sox starter who has thrown at least 125 innings in a season.

On the other side, Rays starter Wade Davis continued the...

09/09/2011 - 3:29pm
Youkilis (hip), Bedard (lat) in Boston

Red Sox manager Terry Francona told reporters in Tampa Bay that both third baseman Kevin Youkilis and pitcher Erik Bedard are not with the team, having flown to Boston to be examined for injuries. Youkilis, said Francona, will receive an MRI for a hip injury that has bothered him at various points over the course of the season and that has been particularly bothersome in recent days, while Bedard was being checked out for a mild lat strain that he incurred while trying to pitch through left knee soreness.

For the year, Youkilis is hitting .261 with a .375 OBP, .467 slugging mark and .842 OPS, but since returning from the disabled list for a lower back strain on Sept. 2, he is hitting just .185 (5-for-27) with a .572 OPS. Bedard is 1-2 with a 3.66 ERA since the Sox acquired him in a July 31 trade. He last pitched on Sept. 3, after which the Sox elected to skip his next start to let the left-hander rest his knee.

While Bedard went to Boston to be...

09/09/2011 - 2:12pm
Lineup: Youkilis out in Tampa Bay opener

The Red Sox will open their three-game series in which they try to fend off the Tampa Bay Rays without the services of Kevin Youkilis. The Red Sox third baseman, according to WEEI's Dale Arnold, flew back to Boston from Toronto rather than accompanying the team to Florida.

In Youkilis' absence, Dustin Pedroia (3-for-8 vs. Rays starter Wade Davis) will clean up, with Marco Scutaro batting second and Jed Lowrie batting seventh and playing shortstop. The Rays, meanwhile, will feature Johnny Damon in the fifth spot in the lineup against Sox starter John Lackey. Damon is a career .369 hitter against the Sox right-hander.

For complete matchup information, visit the Full Count blog. For comprehensive team coverage, visit weei.com/redsox.

RED SOX LINEUP

Ellsbury, CF...

09/09/2011 - 1:55pm
D. Gronkowski: 'All business' with my brother

FOXBORO -- Dan Gronkowski says there hasn't been much time for laughs and jokes with his younger brother, Rob, since the Patriots signed him off waivers this week from the Broncos. The Pats officially added him to the roster on Wednesday, giving him a chance to team with Rob and giving the Patriots another big tight end on the edge to help in the run-blocking game and another big body in the kicking game.

"There's no celebrating or anything right now," Gronkowski said in his first formal session with the New England media on Friday at Gillette Stadium. "It's all business. It's not like I came in the offseason where I could have some fun or something with him. It's just straight business and all we're thinking about is football.

"It's been all business right now. Everything we've done is talking football and getting ready for this game."

Dan, who was more of a blocking tight end for the Broncos, said that - at 6-foot-...

09/09/2011 - 12:27pm
King on M&M: Manning will return

Sports Illustrated NFL writer Peter King made his weekly appearance on Mut & Merloni Friday morning to discuss issues around the league. One of the topics King talked about was the status of Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and his injured neck.

King said he talked to a spine expert on Thursday and was told that the expected recovery period for Manning from spinal fusion surgery will be 2-3 months and that he may play again this year, considering Manning's physical health and drive.

"His career absolutely isn't in jeopardy," King said, based on the discussion with the spine expert. "Most people live very, very normal lives, even athletes, after having this surgery."

King also spoke with Colts vice chairman Bill Polian, who told King that Manning's prognosis is still unknown. That includes whether Manning will be able to play against the Patriots when Indianapolis visits New England on Dec. 4.

"Even...

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