Originally posted on Sox and Dawgs  |  Last updated 7/14/12

A 3-1 win is exactly what the Boston Red Sox needed to open up the unofficial start to the second half of a grueling 162 game schedule that goes from April to October. And they did it behind what's helped them out the most this season, their bullpen.

Sure David Ortiz hit a mammoth home run and Pedro Ciriaco went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and a stolen base but the bullpen picked up where Franklin Morales left off in the game.

Morales went five innings, allowing two hits and three walks with five strikeouts. The problem was the fact he threw 95 pitches over the course of those five innings.

He seemed to be in complete control until the 4th inning when his command went awry.

After getting the first two outs of the inning, he issued consecutive walks to B.J. Upton and Jeff Keppinger. With Sean Rodriguez at the plate, Morales was called for a balk moving the runners up a base. He then walked Rodriguez but recovered and struck out Luke Scott to end the threat.

Scott Atchison took over in the 6th and was charged with an unearned run. Andrew Miller allowed the only runner he faced to reach but Matt Albers picked him up by striking out Desmond Jennings. Albers continued on in the 7th by striking out the first two batters and then getting Carlos Pena to line out to Will Middlebrooks at third.

Ryan Sweeney picked up Vicente Padilla in the 8th defensively after Ben Zobrist led off with a double. Upton sent a liner to right that Sweeney caught and threw to the cutoff man in Aviles. From there, he threw over to Nick Punto, who took over for Middlebrooks, who put down the tag to get Zobrist.

Alfredo Aceves finished the game off in the 9th to pick up his 20th save of the season.

The win for the Red Sox moved them out of last place with the win and to within one game of the Rays for third place. They also picked up a game on the second place Baltimore Orioles and are 1.5 games behind them.

Before the All-Star break, the Red Sox had won two of eight games in the month of July. While last night's win doesn't erase that, it's a good morale booster.

It's the second half and the Red Sox need to forget the first half. They need to build off of last night's win and continue that good momentum going forward for the final 75 games.

And maybe just maybe if that continues, the Red Sox can prove a lot doubters wrong and make the playoffs.

We'll be back later today with today's lineups, batter/pitcher matchups and links from the day. So for now, let's take at look at the overnight links from the media by clicking on the read more button below if you're on the home page.

To open the links up in a new tab or window, use Control+click

Healthy start to 2d half [boston globe]

They’re hoping six-man rotation can work [boston globe]

Ellsbury returns, expected to spark offense [boston globe]

Newest Sox plays hero [boston herald]

Cody Ross bamboozled by Bobby Valentine's benching [boston herald]

Happy Jacoby Ellsbury returns [boston herald]

Pivotal stretch, promising start [boston herald]

Gonzalez' absence due to stiff back [rob bradford - weei.com]

A closer look at Bobby Valentine's communication situation [rob bradford - weei.com]

New half, new start for Red Sox [csn new england]

Bullpen picks up where it left off [csn new england]

Tanguay: Lucchino views fans as 'dumb and naive' [csn new england]

Ciriaco strikes again as Sox top Rays [espn boston]

Sox sign four late-round draft picks [espn boston]

Dustin Pedroia eager to prove Boston Red Sox critics wrong [espn boston]

Kevin Millar on M&M: Carl Crawford needs to be mentally tough [full count]

Closing time: Red Sox beat Rays in Jacoby Ellsbury’s return [full count]

Franklin Morales Shows Mental Toughness by Overcoming Subpar Start Against Yankees [nesn.com]

Jacoby Ellsbury Battles Rust, Timing Issues in Return, But Still Bolsters Red Sox With Presence [nesn.com]

Pedro Ciriaco Continues Trend of Unsung Heroes Leading Red Sox While Waiting for Big Names to Deliver [nesn.com]

Middlebrooks departs as precaution [projo sox blog]

Red Sox ink four Draft picks before deadline [redsox.com]

Needing rest, Adrian a late scratch for Red Sox [redsox.com]

Red Sox get some good news on injury front [redsox.com]

Ryan Westmoreland undergoes surgery [redsox.com]

For more slices of Red Sox goodness, head over to the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, CSN New England,  ESPN Boston, NESN, Providence Journal, RedSox.com and WEEI websites.

And if you must check out the enemy news, head over to the Tampa Bay Times and Tampa Tribune websites.

Follow Ian on Twitter @soxanddawgs. And be sure to like us on Facebook as well.

photo credit: getty images

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