Tampa Bay (21-26) at Boston (26-18)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Boston, MA
Temp: 77° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Thu May 25, 2006
  • TV: ESPN2, NESN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Tampa Bay Devil Rays left fielder Carl Crawford capped a big series with what he considered his best game ever.

He’ll look to build on that momentum when the Devil Rays open a four-game series with the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox Thursday at Fenway Park.

Crawford went 8-for-13 (.615) in Tampa Bay’s three-game series at Toronto, including 5-for-5 with a homer, five runs and four stolen bases in Wednesday’s 10-8 win. Crawford tied the team record for hits in a game previously set by Julio Lugo on June 24, 2004, at Toronto, and set new club marks for runs and stolen bases.

“It’s probably my best game. It had a home run in it, we won the game, all that, so it probably was my best game,” said Crawford, who had the first five-hit effort of his career.

Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon was full of praise for Crawford, who is hitting .287 with two homers, 30 runs scored and 17 stolen bases this season.

“It’s one of the best single performances I think I’ve ever seen in regard to all facets of the game,” Maddon said. “He was the dominant story tonight. All the things he can do—he did.”

Crawford’s other home run this season came on April 30 against Boston in a game Tampa Bay won 5-4.

Toby Hall and Ty Wigginton also homered for the Devil Rays (21-26), who have won five of their last seven games.

The Red Sox (26-18) have dropped three of four after Wednesday’s 8-6 loss to the New York Yankees. Manny Ramirez hit a pair of homers and went 8-for-12 (.667) with four home runs and 10 RBIs in the three-game series.

“It’s exciting to sit back and watch him,” said teammate Kevin Youkilis, who added a two-run homer Wednesday. “When he’s going good, there’s nobody better than him.”

Josh Beckett (6-1, 4.19 ERA) will look to help Boston bounce back on Thursday. He won his third straight start on Saturday, allowing four runs and six hits in six innings of an 8-4 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.

The runs scored on a solo homer from Philadelphia’s Chase Utley and a three-run shot by Ryan Howard.

“I had pretty good stuff today,” said Beckett, who has never faced the Devil Rays. “I think I only made one mistake, and that was to Utley. The pitch that Howard hit was actually where I wanted it. He’s just a big strong kid who got enough of it.”

Tampa Bay will counter with Doug Waechter (0-2, 6.63), who allowed three runs and six hits in six innings but did not receive a decision in the Devil Rays’ 4-3 win over Florida on Saturday. Tampa Bay had lost the last nine games — including eight starts—in which he appeared, dating to last season.

Waechter has not earned a victory since Aug. 27 last season, going 0-6 with a 7.55 ERA in 14 appearances, including 13 starts, since then.

He is 1-2 with a 6.27 ERA in seven career appearances, including six starts, against the Red Sox and has lost both of his starts at Fenway.

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Starting Pitchers

D. Waechter KC vs. J. Beckett LAD
1-4 Record 16-11
6.62 ERA 5.01
25 K 158
19 BB 74
1.62 WHIP 1.29