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Red Sox: All tied up atop the AL East

It's back to the grind today -- with an awful lot to play for.

The Red Sox' "break" is over. And there's an awful lot to play for in today's doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Yankees beat the Royals 7-4 last night, bringing themselves even with the Sox atop the AL East (73-46). That makes today's results especially important.

Jon Lester (11-6, 3.32 ERA) will get things started for Boston in the 1:05 p.m. day game. He's lost two straight, though both were, by any estimation, decent outings.

Opposing him will be James Shields (11-9, 2.80). He's cruising since getting smacked around by Oakland on July 27, giving up just one run and nine hits in his last 16 1/3 innings. Shields has fanned 14 batters in that time, walking six.

The nightcap will match Erik Bedard (4-7, 3.55) and Jeff Niemann (7-4, 3.43). Bedard could use a measure of revenge against the Rays; they battered him for five runs in 1 1/3 innings in his last start with the Mariners, on July 29.

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