Boston (95-65) at Tampa Bay (61-99)

Partly Cloudy Currently: St. Petersburg, FL
Temp: 74° F
  • Game info: 6:15 pm EDT Sat Sep 27, 2003
  • TV: NESN, FSFL
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays look to avoid their 100th loss of the year as they continue their three-game series against the playoff-bound Boston Red Sox.

The Devil Rays have lost seven of eight and need to win their final two games to avoid a third consecutive 100-loss season.

“All the young kids we have here, we were concerned about September,” Tampa manager Lou Piniella said. “Our tanks are pretty empty. Would it be nice not lose to 100 games? Yes. I hope we can muster enough and come out and play two good ballgames.”

The Red Sox have won 17 of their last 24 games to get to 95 wins for the first time since 1986, when Boston reached the World Series.

“The number of victories doesn’t matter,” Boston manager Grady Little said. “It’s special because we’re going to play some more in October.”

Pedro Martinez pitched three scoreless innings in his final playoff tuneup and Manny Ramirez hit a two-run homer as the Red Sox beat the Devil Rays 7-2 on Friday.

Little rested several starters—including Johnny Damon, Bill Mueller and Kevin Millar—one day after Boston clinched the AL wild-card berth.

“Everything went smoothly out there tonight,” Little said. “We got the work in with the people we wanted and we were able to win the game, too.”

Little said right-hander Jeff Suppan will go only four or five innings in this game, and knuckleballer Tim Wakefield is expected to throw three innings in the finale Sunday.

Suppan has never beaten Tampa, going 0-5 with a 5.74 ERA in nine career starts.

STANDINGS: Red Sox - 2nd place, 4 GB, AL East. Devil Rays - 5th place, 38 GB, AL East.

RED SOX PROBABLE STARTER: Suppan (3-3, 5.37 ERA). The 28-year-old right-hander has won two of his last three starts, including a 7-5 win over Baltimore on Monday. Suppan gave up two runs and six hits in six innings.

DEVIL RAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Rob Bell (5-4, 5.29 ERA). Bell held Toronto hitless for six innings as Tampa Bay beat the Blue Jays 5-2 Monday to snap a four-game losing streak. The right-hander took a no-hit bid into the seventh before Vernon Wells doubled leading off. Bell allowed one run and two hits, striking out four and walking one in 6 2-3 innings.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Red Sox - Mueller, .327 avg.; Ramirez, 37 HRs; Nomar Garciaparra, 119 runs; Ramirez and Garciaparra and 104 RBIs; Johnny Damon, 30 SBs. Devil Rays - Aubrey Huff, .311 avg., 34 HRs, 105 RBIs and 89 runs; Carl Crawford, 53 SBs.

SEASON SERIES: Red Sox, 12-5.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Red Sox - SS Garciaparra is 7-for-11 with two home runs and two doubles against Bell. … 3B Mueller leads the AL with a .327 batting average. Teammate OF Ramirez is second at .325. … OF Trot Nixon (left calf) has missed three straight games. Little said Nixon might see some action as the DH this weekend. Devil Rays - Tampa’s pitching staff has hit a major league record 95 batters this season. … OF Huff needs one more home run to break the Devil Rays’ club record. Huff is currently tied with Jose Conseco at 34. … OF Baldelli is 2-for-3 with a home run against Suppan.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Red Sox - 42-37 on the road; Devil Rays - 34-45 at home.

INJURIES: Red Sox - 1B-DH Jeremy Giambi (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Bob Howry (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Robert Person (hip), 60-day DL. Devil Rays - SS Rey Ordonez (knee), 15-day DL; OF Ben Grieve (clot), 60-day DL; RHP Seth McClung (elbow), 60-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Suppan SD vs. R. Bell CWS
13-11 Record 5-4
4.19 ERA 5.52
110 K 44
51 BB 39
1.31 WHIP 1.41