ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Curt Schilling was in the right mood
for strong outing.
Schilling pitched a six-hitter for his third complete game of
the season and Jason Varitek hit a two-run homer, leading the
Boston Red Sox over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 5-2 Tuesday night."He showed up today, he wasn't talking at all and that's a
great sign," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "When he's
ornery the day pitches, man, that's good."Schilling (13-5) struck out seven and walked one in his 82nd
complete game, improving to 3-0 at Tampa Bay, with two of the wins
this season."I've been working on the changeup for a while," Schilling
said. "Tonight I probably threw more in a game than I have
combined in my career, and for the most part it was a good pitch.
For almost four months now, I have not had my spilt for an entire
start, much less over a period of starts. I got tired of waiting
for it to come back around. I've been working to get it back, but
in lieu of that I needed something."Varitek made it 3-0 with a two-run homer in the fourth and Bill
Mueller drove in three runs for the Red Sox, who have won two
straight since dropping a pair to AL Central-leading Minnesota."Billy drove in three big runs for us and Curt did an awesome
job on that mound for us," Varitek said. "I was just able to
capitalize on a good pitch to hit."Boston, 43-41 since opening the season 15-6, moved within eight
games of AL East-leading New York and remained one-half game behind
Texas, the wild-card leader. General manager Theo Epstein thinks
the Red Sox can put together a strong run down the stretch."We just have to go out and do it," he said. "We find
ourselves in a dogfight for the postseason."Rocco Baldelli homered for Tampa Bay, 1-7 against Boston this
season. The Devil Rays are 5-3 on a season long 13-game homestand.Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella declined to talk with reporters
after the game.Rob Bell (4-5) allowed five runs and seven hits in six innings."With that lineup over there, you're not going to trick them
with smoke and mirrors," Bell said. "You've got to get it done
through three or four at-bats (against each hitter) as a starting
pitcher."Boston won its first road series since June 4-6 at Kansas City.
The Red Sox are 12-19 in their last 31 games away from Fenway Park.The Devil Rays lost a series at home for the first time since
May 28-30, when the Yankees took two of three.Schilling retired 12 in a row after Aubrey Huff's two-out single
in the first, a streak that ended on Geoff Blum's single with two
outs in the fifth."He was good," Huff said. "His game plan is stay away, stay
away, stay away. He doesn't make many mistakes."Mueller put the Red Sox up 1-0 with a second-inning RBI single
and added a two-run double in the sixth that made it 5-0 lead.Baldelli hit a solo homer in the sixth. Red Sox left fielder
Manny Ramirez ended the inning by making a leaping catch against
the wall on Huff's drive."That was a great catch," Francona said.Tampa Bay's Julio Lugo hit an RBI single in the ninth.
Dave Roberts went 0-for-5 in his Boston debut, starting in
right and hitting leadoff. CF Johnny Damon was dropped from first
to third and SS Orlando Cabrera batted second. "You may never see
this lineup again," Francona said. Boston 1B David Ortiz, who
served the third game of a five-game suspension, usually hits
third. Roberts, obtained Saturday from Los Angeles, probably will
hit toward the bottom of the lineup when he starts. ... Francona
said Cabrera could eventually hit fifth on a regular basis. ...
Tampa Bay 1B Tino Martinez and OF Jose Cruz Jr. were out of the
starting lineup. Both Martinez (3-for-19) and Cruz (2-for-28) have
struggled against Schilling.