Gameday live: Rays at Red Sox
Update 11:04 p.m. The Rays win 9-3. They've now tied their spring record with 18 wins.
Update 10:12p.m. Niemann was pleased with how he felt in his best outing of the spring.
“That was a great one to end the spring on,” Niemann said. “Everything was working, and I felt good.”
Niemann said was especially happy how he worked his way out of some tough jams, against some of the Red Sox top hitters.
“It’s was pretty much their ‘A’ team out there, so to be able to get out of jams is huge,” he said. “You’re going to be in jams during the season, so it was nice to get those high-intensity at-bats.”
Rays 9, Red Sox 2 (bottom eighth)
Update 9:27 p.m. Niemann's strong outing is over, having gone six scoreless innings, striking out six and walking just one. The right-hander got himself out of several jams, holding the Red Sox to 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
The Rays had added a couple more runs in the top of the seventh, thanks to a bases loaded walk by B.J. Upton and some more hustle by Ashley; he singled, stole second, and scored from there when an infield hit by Jason Bartlett led to two errors by Kevin Youkilis.
Rays 5, Red Sox 0
Update 9:03 p.m. Niemann got himself out of trouble again in the sixth when, after allowing the first two hitters to reach base, he retired Jason Varitek on a pop-up and got Mike Cameron to ground into a double play.
Rays 3, Red Sox 0 (top 7)
Update 8:44 p.m. Niemann impressively worked his way out of a jam in the fifth. With runners on first and third with no outs (partly due to an error by Sean Rodriguez), Niemann struck out J.D. Drew and Kevin Youkilis. Then, on an attempted steal, C Nevin Ashley threw to second, but Jason Bartlett caught it off and picked off Marco Scutaro at third to end the inning.
Rays 3, Red Sox 0 (top sixth)
Update 8:28 p.m. Nevin Ashley was in the middle of it again in the fifth, making a great hustle play. Ashley hit a slow chopper to the left of the mound, and Beckett overthrew first base. Ashley alertly raced to third base on the play, and eventually scored to make it 3-0 Rays.
Update 8:06 p.m. RHP Jeff Niemann, who has thrown three scoreless innings, got out of a jam in the third, striking out Mike Lowell to thwart a threat with a runner on third.
Rays 2, Red Sox 0 (top fourth)
Update 7:49 p.m. C Nevin Ashley, who has impressed in camp, hit a solo homer off Beckett in the third to give the Rays a 2-0 lead.
Update 7:43 p.m. RF Pat Burrell hit a one-out double in the second, but was stranded.
Update 7:23 p.m. RHP Jeff Niemann tossed a scoreless first inning, though he got in a jam after getting the first two outs (giving up a walk and a hit before getting DH David Ortiz to ground out).
Rays 1, Red Sox 0
Update 7:12 p.m. The Rays took a 1-0 lead in the first, thanks to 3B Evan Longoria, who crushed a Josh Beckett pitch over the leftfield fence for his fourth homer of the spring.
Developing: We're live in Fort Myers, where the Rays will take on the Red Sox and RHP Josh Beckett.
RHP Jeff Niemann will start for the Rays. Mike Ekstrom, one of the candidates for the final bullpen spot, is also scheduled to pitch.