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Jake Peavy helped the team with the most series victories in the majors this season to take one from a club that hadn't lost one in 2½ months.
Peavy pitched a three-hitter and the Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-1 Sunday night.
The Red Sox, who won their 26th series, were the first team to capture one from the Dodgers since June 14-16, when Pittsburgh took two of three. But Los Angeles is 46-12 since June 22.
"Tonight was a very big night for us, and we knew that," Peavy said. "We had to come in here and play a very good team that hadn't lost a series in quite a while. You watch them on tape, then watch them get ready for a game, and you see why they've been so successful.
"They've been on an incredible run, but we're a good ballclub as well, and this shows the caliber of ballclub that we are," he added. "We're on the same level with those guys. I knew the day I walked into this clubhouse what we had here. And every guy, man for man, knows that we're capable of playing with anybody on a given day. It's just up to us to be prepared to do that."
ESPNBoston | Jake Peavy, Red Sox hand Dodgers 1st series loss in over 2 months
Jake Peavy's best start in his short Red Sox career couldn't have been at a better time. He went all nine innings, allowed just four baserunners, and put to rest any worry that the Sox were in some kind of A-Rod-fueled tailspin.
Boston is back on top of the AL East by a game thanks in part to those very same Yankees, who knocked off the Rays in extra innings. Barring some 2011-esque collapse, they look to have an extremely good shot at making the playoffs. They've got the 2nd best run differential in the American League, and no one else is close. Their starting pitching has been stable even without ace Clay Buchholz, who is rehabbing now.
Peavy's latest performance brings a little more clarity regarding the playoff rotation (if you'll allow me to get ahead of myself and talk playoffs). One of the worries about this team is that it isn't playoff-ready in the sense that it doesn't have the clear 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation, but rather five starters who are all roughly equal in performance (plus Ryan Dempster). Seeing Peavy elevate himself to three-hitter level against a good team makes it a little easier to picture the Sox succeeding in the playoffs. I had started to think about Peavy coming out of the pen in October -- he didn't even get into the 7th in his last three starts -- but it's hard to ignore this type of outing. Buchholz-Lackey-Peavy-Lester in some order is probably the most sensible top 4, in some order, even with how good Felix Doubront has been.
The Sox are headed home and enjoy another off day (get used to them, they have a lot of off days in September). They get nine games at Fenway (against Baltimore, Chicago, and New York), and then hit the road again. The schedule for September is pretty weird -- only six games come against non-AL East opponents (the final game of the White Sox series, three against Detroit, and two later in the month against the Rockies). We're going to be seeing a lot of Baltimore, Tampa, and New York, so while it's fun to think about the playoffs, plenty could go wrong. Baltimore and Tampa are no joke, and the Yankees are always annoyingly competitive, even when their roster is garbage. But the Sox are looking up to the task.
Globe | Red Sox power past Dodgers 8-1 | Red Sox cool down Dodgers, head home | Herald | Red Sox power past Dodgers 8-1 | Shane Victorino's play the stuff of legends | Finer play may pay for Stephen Drew | Ryan Dempster laughs off possible row with David Ortiz | Clay Buchholz back in action | Red Sox end solid trip with Dodgers drubbing | ESPNBoston | Matt Thornton activated from DL | Red Sox can play with anyone | Buchholz shows rust in rehab start | CSNNE | Rested Napoli heating up for Sox | Dempster using suspension to work on mechanics | Peavy goes distance as Sox beat Dodgers 8-1