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Red Sox have the hammer now

When the Red Sox closed out Game 6 of the ALCS late last night, they won their ninth straight postseason elimination games under manager Terry Francona (left). They haven't lost a sudden-death playoff game since Aaron Boone's dramatic ALCS home run kept them out of the World Series in 2003, the year before Francona took over the club.

They're the team that will not die, and -- despite the impressive home record of the Tampa Bay Rays -- that sudden-death streak probably will reach 10 tonight when Jon Lester takes the mound for Boston against Rays right-hander Matt Garza.

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Garza gave up just a run on six hits to register a huge victory in Game 3 at Fenway Park. Lester gave up five runs (four earned) on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings to get the loss. So, under normal circumstances, you'd think that all the indicators point to the Rays, except that they had nothing to lose on Monday and they have everything to lose in Game 7. They've got the weight of that seven-run collapse two nights ago and it's a lot heavier now than it was before last night's game.

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