Wednesday July 24, 2013 | 06:39 AM

The Red Sox won 6-2 and the good news for Boston was that Jon Lester looked solid: 6 1/3 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 8 K.

But nearly as important was the performance of Junichi Tazawa (1 1/3 IP, 3 K). He entered in the seventh inning with the tying run on second base and struck out Desmond Jennings.

In the eighth, Tazawa went 1-2-3 with strikeouts of Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria.

With the bullpen going through some serious attrition, Tazawa is Boston's one true set-up reliever. He looked tired heading into the All-Star break but appears revived. In his three outings since, he's allowed one hit and two walks.

Tonight, Felix Doubront (7-3, 3.76) goes for Boston against Tampa Bay and David Price (4-5, 4.03). In his last game against the Rays, Doubront pitched eight shutout innings, allowing three hits.

The AL East standings:

Red Sox 61-41
Rays 59-42 (1.5 games back)
Orioles 57-44 (3.5)
Yankees 53-47 (7)
Jays 45-54 (14.5)

Pawtucket lost, and starter Chris Hernandez (3-7, 5.42) continues to struggle. Hernandez, an All-Star with the Sea Dogs last year, has not demonstrated his noted command this season. He needed 82 pitches (40 strikes) to get through 3 2/3 innings: 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 1 K.

Portland won 8-7 ... Garrin Cecchini (.333) went 2-for-5 ... Christian Vazquez (.262) had two hits, including his 5th home run ... Michael Almanzar (.279) was 2-for-5 ... and outfielder Ronald Bermudez, one of those Portland-Pawtucket shuttle players, homered.

The race for the Eastern League East Division wild card spot:

New Hampshire  52-49
Trenton 52-50 (0.5 games back)
Portland 51-52 (2)
New Britain 48-55 (5)

In other minor league news, Triple-A first baseman Lars Anderson was released by the Chicago White Sox last week. Anderson, 25, played for the Sea Dogs in 2008-10. After a late-season promotion in 2008, Anderson hit .316 with five home runs in 41 games. Baseball America proclaimed him Boston's No. 1 prospect.

But Anderson slumped in 2009. He rebounded in his first 17 games in 2010 (hitting .355) and was promoted to Pawtucket. But Anderson never adjusted well enough at the higher levels.

From 2010-2012, Anderson played 30 games for Boston, hitting .167. He was traded to Cleveland last July for knuckleball pitcher Steven Wright. Anderson has bounced around since then. He was hitting .194 for the Charlotte Knights when he was released.




About this Blog

Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.

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