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Rain and shine for Red Sox

Clouds gather as they rout Rays

You could take the full 103 minutes of the rain delay in last night's 10-6 Red Sox win over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and still not have enough time to sort out all the plot lines that swirled through a day like no other this season.

While David Ortiz made the most noise on the field with two home runs (three in five at-bats over two games), suspended pitcher David Wells made the most noise in the clubhouse, his 18-minute rant against commissioner Bud Selig bringing a tart response from Major League Baseball lawyer Rob Manfred and an MLB-requested apology from Sox CEO Larry Lucchino.

But both Ortiz's potent bat and Wells's unproductive mouth had to compete with other developments, all of which could have a far more lasting impact on the Sox' chances down the stretch:

Top prospect Craig Hansen, whose much-heralded arrival was expected at any moment to shore up the Sox bullpen, instead has been shut down indefinitely with a tired arm. Hansen, the No. 1 draft pick from St. John's, has not pitched for Double A Portland since Friday night. If the fatigue, much like what a pitcher goes through in spring training, does not go away, the Sox may have no choice but to shut him down for the rest of the season.

Center fielder Johnny Damon, who started last night's rout with the 16th leadoff home run of his career, left in the sixth inning after a pitch by Trever Miller struck him in the left hand as he swung and missed at a third strike. The Sox announced that Damon had a bruise and X-rays were negative, but manager Terry Francona said Damon may miss a few games. Add the hand to a list of hurts that includes his shoulder, knee, elbow, eye, and cheek.

Francona said the pitch struck Damon between the knuckles of his left hand.

''I talked to Johnny and talked to Dr. [Thomas] Gill," Francona said. ''He's already improving. That's real good news. You all know, if anyone can play with pain, it's Johnny.

''We'll check with him tomorrow. I don't doubt it's going to be a few games, but that's a hell of a lot better than the rest of the year."

Cast-off second baseman Mark Bellhorn, due to clear waivers today, is set to sign with the archrival Yankees.

Recuperating closer Keith Foulke, whose presence at the back end of the bullpen has never been more urgently required, could not have sounded more mortal in discussing his prospects after two rehab turns for Single A Lowell.

''Maybe I'm just getting old," said Foulke, scheduled to pitch again tonight in Lowell. ''I don't know what the deal is. A few years back I was a 90-93 guy, consistently. That's when I was dominating. That's where I want to be. Hopefully, over the next month or so we can get back there and keep working toward next year."

And did we mention that Curt Schilling, on whose unsteady right ankle the entire season may turn, is scheduled tonight to make his second start since returning to the rotation?

''Again, we hope it may be six innings," Francona said. ''We'll see how he gets to it."

Asked if he thought Schilling is even close to driving off the mound the way he did last season, Francona said, ''The more he pitches, and throws 80 or 90 pitches and it doesn't hurt driving the ball downhill, he has the chance to get back on track.

''If we get into late September and reach the point where it finally clicks, we'll be in good shape. It may not be perfect every time out, but we have to try to get there."

The most predictable part of the evening may have been the game itself, the Sox beating the Devil Rays behind Matt Clement for the sixth time in seven meetings here. They've outscored the Devil Rays, 44-17, in that span; in 21 trips to Yawkey Way, the Devil Rays have won just two series, both in '99.

Play was held up at 7:33 p.m., just as Jason Varitek was settling into the batter's box to start the bottom of the second. When the weather cleared the Sox resumed one of their favorite pastimes, beating up on the D-Rays in the Fens.

It took just one batter for the Devil Rays to find themselves behind, Damon opening with a home run off Seth McClung into the Sox bullpen, his first home run in 113 at-bats. Two batters later, Ortiz homered over the visitors' bullpen.

His home run in his last at-bat, off reliever Travis Harper, gave Ortiz 35 for the season.

Any chance the Sox had of continuing to tee off on McClung was washed away with the rain. When play resumed at 9:16, righthander Tim Corcoran had replaced McClung on the hill.

But the long delay did not deter Clement, who was facing the team and the batter -- Carl Crawford -- that had sent him to a St. Petersburg, Fla., hospital on July 26, when Crawford's line drive struck him on the side of the head.

He held the Devil Rays to three hits and a run until he left after walking Julio Lugo to open the sixth. Clement won for the second time in eight starts since the All-Star break and is now 12-3.

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