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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Morales Helps Red Sox Start Second Half on Right Foot

ST PETERSBURG, FL - JULY 13:  Franklin Morales...
ST PETERSBURG, FL - JULY 13: Franklin Morales #46 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on July 13, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
For all of the talk about the struggling Red Sox during the break, there was no such thing on Friday night as Boston got good pitching from Franklin Morales and an offensive boost from Pedro Ciriaco to get past Jeremy Hellickson and the Rays.

Hellickson was good, as he usually is against the Red Sox, but Franklin Morales bounced back from a disaster start against the Yankees to limit Tampa Bay to just two hits over five innings, with three walks, picking up his second win of the season.

David Ortiz jumped on the youngster Hellickson early, launching his 23rd bomb of the year in the first inning to put the Sox out in front, where they would stay for the entire game.

Boston picked up two more in the top second when Pedro Ciriaco hit a bases-loaded single off Hellickson. The fill-in second baseman was 3-3 on the night, hitting in the nine spot. His average since joining the Red Sox is .625.

The lone run scored by the Rays came off Scott Atchison in the sixth inning. Ben Zobrist reached and went to second on a throwing error by Mike Aviles to start the frame. After Atch retired the next two batters, Sean Rodriguez ripped a double to left to put Tampa on the board.

That was all the Rays would muster off Boston's bullpen though. Matt Albers, Vicente Padilla and Alfredo Aceves combined for 3 1/3 innings of shutout relief to put it in the books and get the Red Sox off to a good start in the second half.

Saturday night, Clay Buchholz will make his return from the disabled list with gastrointestinal bleeding that hospitalized him for a period of time. If the Red Sox expect to make some noise in the division, he'd better be up to the task. Starting pitching, like Friday's, will be the key to a turnaround this season.

Carl Crawford is expected to be activated Monday after playing with Pawtucket this weekend. The left fielder has battled multiple injuries this season while trying to make a return from wrist surgery. He has yet to play an inning at the major league level this season.

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