MIAMI // The Tampa Bay Rays have extended their lead at the top of the American League East with a 5-4 win over the World Series champions the Boston Red Sox. The win in the opener of a three-game series lifted Tampa (50-32) to the best record in the league.The Tampa manager Joe Maddon said: "We are playing solid baseball now and this is the only year that matters. "There was great atmosphere and it shows how far we have come as a team."
James Shields pitched six and a third innings for the win, allowing two runs on five hits with five strikeouts and one walk. BJ Upton and Gabe Gross both homered for the Rays, who triumphed despite managing just six hits. Justin Masterson (4-2) allowed four runs on five hits in six innings to take the loss. JD Drew hit his 16th homer of the season and 12th in June, and Mike Lowell had three hits for the Red Sox.
Lowell paid tribute to the Rays, saying: "It is no fluke. They are a talented group. There is no track record, but I think the talent is there. You've got to respect that." * Reuters