Tampa Bay (54-59) at Boston (61-50)

Fair Currently: Boston, MA
Temp: 77° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Wed Aug 11, 2004
  • TV: FSFL, NESN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Dewon Brazelton is quickly emerging as the Tampa Devil Rays’ best starting pitcher.

The Devil Rays hope Brazelton continues to improve as they play the Boston Red Sox in the third game of their four-game series at Fenway Park.

Tampa Bay has lofty expectations for Brazelton after selecting him third in the 2001 amateur baseball draft behind Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer and Chicago Cubs pitcher Mark Prior.

The 24-year-old Brazelton is 4-3 with a 2.56 ERA in 12 games this season, 11 of them starts. The right-hander has given up just three homers in 62 1-3 innings, but has allowed two in his last three starts.

“He’s an improved pitcher. His demeanor on the mound tells a lot,” Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said. “He’s got a confident tone about him. He expects to go out there and compete and give his team a chance to win. He’s going about his business the right way.”

Brazelton went 1-6 with a 6.89 ERA in 10 starts last season with Tampa Bay before being optioned to Class-A Bakersfield in June.

“I think last year you didn’t see Dewon Brazelton. You saw what somebody made Dewon Brazelton as far as my mechanics and whatever,” Brazelton said. “That wasn’t me. That was what somebody was telling me to do. I didn’t do well and all of a sudden I got thrown under the bus.

“They let me go back to Single-A and let me get started the way I was when they drafted me. And you’re starting to see the results of that.”

Brazleton has pitched well over his last four starts, going 2-0 with a 1.37 ERA. He hopes to get the Devil Rays back on track after an 8-4 loss to the Red Sox on Tuesday. Jason Varitek and Bill Mueller each had two hits and drove in a pair of runs to lead the Boston to its third win in four games.

Varitek, Orlando Cabrera, Mueller and Kevin Youkilis—the bottom four hitters in Boston’s lineup—drove in two runs each to help the Red Sox improve to 8-3 against Tampa Bay this season.

“You’ve got to get the hits when it matters, and we did that tonight,” said Youkilis, who has driven in eight runs in over the past three games. “We started to string together some two-out hits, and that’s what you have to do to win games. We’re pretty tough all the way down the lineup, and opposing pitchers can’t relax after the top of the order.”

Manny Ramirez started in left field and went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts after missing three straight games because of the flu. He batted third for just the second time this season.

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Starting Pitchers

D. Brazelton StL vs. D. Lowe Tex
6-8 Record 14-12
4.77 ERA 5.42
64 K 105
53 BB 71
1.44 WHIP 1.61