May 22. 2018 11:19PM

Betts' 16th homer lifts Red Sox past Rays

Field Level Media


Boston right fielder Mookie Betts is congratulated by center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. and catcher Sandy Leon as he hits a 3-run home run during the third inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

Mookie Betts hit his majors’ leading 16th home run and Chris Sale struck out nine in 7 2/3 innings of two-run ball as the Boston Red Sox beat the host Tampa Bay Rays 4-2 to open a three-game series Tuesday night.

Betts’ blast was a three-run shot, putting him one home run ahead of teammate J.D. Martinez and Baltimore’s Manny Machado for the most in the majors. Rafael Devers launched a solo homer for Boston, which won for the fifth time in six games.

Sale (5-1) was charged with one earned run on four hits and two walks.

Willy Adames’ first hit in his MLB debut was a solo shot against Sale, and Daniel Robertson also had an RBI for Tampa Bay. The Rays have lost back-to-back games after their MLB-best six-game win streak.

Tampa Bay starter Jake Faria (3-3) allowed three runs on three hits and a walk while striking out two over 2 2/3 innings before leaving with a left oblique strain.

Rays catcher Wilson Ramos also exited in the third after being hit on his glove hand by a ball. Ramos was diagnosed with a left hand contusion and is day-to-day. Jesus Sucre took over behind the plate.

Boston has won eight of 11 against Tampa Bay this season.

In Adames’ first at-bat, he struck out on a 97-mph fastball from Sale to end the Rays’ first.

Betts homered in the third on a 3-2 breaking ball from Faria. The ball sailed approximately 405 feet.

into the left-field seats. Sandy Leon walked and Jackie Bradley Jr. singled to bring up Betts.

Adames homered to left in the fourth, blasting Sale’s 1-0 off-speed offering an estimated 385 feet to make it 3-1. Robertson’s sacrifice fly one inning later brought the Rays within a run.

Devers’ approximate 362-foot homer to right in the sixth, his ninth this year, restored Boston’s two-run lead.

Tampa Bay loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth, but Craig Kimbrel got Mallex Smith to ground out to second for his 14th save.