Tampa Bay Rays defeat Boston Red Sox, 9-1

Two minutes and four pitches into yesterday's game, Jon Lester had already plowed through the first three batters of the Tampa Bay order.

It was a prompt dispatching of the Rays in the first inning, and it seemed to forecast yet another dream-crushing start from the lefty, who would lead the Sox to the World Series.

Then came the passed ball, and the first run. Then came the blasts, and the unraveling of the third inning. It came swiftly, as the Rays went from dominated...

As he rounded the bases after hitting a mammoth three-run homer in the eighth inning of Tampa Bay's 9-1 victory over the Red Sox yesterday in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, Rocco Baldelli said all he thought about was finding his family in the stands. All he wanted, really, was to shoot them a knowing glance and a wave.

At no time, however, did he have any thoughts about how far he had come to reach that moment.

There were no flashbacks to spring ...