A speedy 2:18 victory -- and we're back in first place.
Wakefield was superb (7-4-2-1-6, 94), leaving with a 3-2 lead (all the Boston runs courtesy of Trot Nixon's first inning home run). Hansen began the eighth and was victimized by a couple of one-out groundball singles. But he came back to retire Mark Teixeira on a foul pop and turned the ball over to Jonathan Papelbon.
Hank Blalock hit a high fastball on a 1-2 count to left center for an RBI-single. (Where was the splitter?) It was Pap's first blown save of the year and the game was tied 3-3. [What's that, Michael Kay, you wanna know how Papelbon will handle his first bout of adversity, his first blown save? Stay tuned.] ... Bighead Mench made the third out.
The Rangers also went to their pen in the eighth, with Francisco Cordero taking over for Vincente Padilla. As rain began falling, Manny Ramirez worked a eight-pitch walk. Nixon, who ended the night 4-for-4, lined a single towards the right field corner and Manny went to third. Mike Lowell flied to right and Ramirez easily slid across with the go-ahead run.
In the ninth, Papelbon (looking somewhat pissed off) struck out the first two batters before allowing an infield hit to Rod Barajas. Jerry Hairston pinch-ran and stole second, but Ian Kinsler struck out to end the game. [Yo, Mr. Interlocking NY, how's about you break down that inning -- and then STFU.]
In New York, the Athletics chased the Eunuch after only four innings (4-6-6-5-2, 84). In the bottom of the seventh (rain delay), it's Oakland 6-1. Update: Yanks lose 6-5.
Tim Wakefield's stiff back has been a "little bit of an issue", so Craig Hansen will be used if Wakefield is pulled early.
Wakefield / Padilla, 7 PM