Mark Portugal has a simple explanation for his mastery over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
"I think it's confidence," Portugal said after Boston's 4-2 victory Monday night gave him a 3-0 record in four starts against Tampa Bay this season.
"Everyone kind of has certain hitters and certain teams they do well against," the right-hander added. "And some teams, for some reason, you just can't get out. That's baseball."
Mike Stanley homered and Portugal (5-6) allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings. Tim Wakefield pitched a perfect ninth for his ninth save in 10 opportunities.
"When I gave up the runs, I got a little angry at myself and started throwing the ball like I meant it. The results were a lot better," said Portugal, who's allowed 11 runs and 23 hits in 20 2-3 innings against the Devil Rays.
"I don't treat them any differently than I do any other ballclub, I go out there and try to pitch my ball game. If I'm working ahead in the count and throwing strikes, then I can be effective against a lot of ballclubs. Not just this one."
The victory gave Portugal three of Boston's four victories against the Devil Rays, who lead the season series 6-4, including a 5-1 mark at Fenway Park.
"It's a game you feel like you had a chance to score runs every inning. We let them off the hook a lot," said Tampa Bay manager Larry Rothschild.
Canseco, who leads the AL with 30 homers said he's never seen Portugal get as much movement on his pitches.
"Not even close," Canseco said. "His ball was moving three, four feet at the last second. It was ridiculous. He definitely had it going on. We checked the ball a couple times and nothing. I checked the ball once. I thought he was scuffing it. But it was clear."
The Red Sox played without All-Star Nomar Garciaparra, who sat out for a thid straight day with a sore left groin. He learned before the game that he had been selected as the AL's starting shortstop ahead of New York's Derek Jeter.
"It's an honor," said Garciaparra, who's hitting .366 and finished 20,446 votes ahead of Jeter in fan balloting. "I think I'm more concerned about getting healthy and getting back in there."
Bryan Rekar (5-4) took the loss, giving up four runs and eight hits in six innings.
The Devil Rays took a 2-1 lead in the second, scoring on Randy Winn's RBI single and Aaron Ledesma's groundout. Stanley homered for the Red Sox in the top of the second, while Wilton Veras, Trot Nixon and Darren Lewis each drove in a run during a three-run fourth that put Boston ahead 4-2.
©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed