Five-run sixth inning propels Sox over division rival Rays
BOSTON — Right-hander John Lackey turned in his second straight strong performance and the Boston Red Sox broke a 1-1 tie with five runs in the sixth inning en route to a 7-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night.
Lackey, who pitched eight innings to beat the New York Yankees last Wednesday, pitched eight innings on a frigid Fenway Park night to raise his record to 4-2 and give the Red Sox (13-14) their third win in the last four games.
Right fielder Shane Victorino stroked four hits and also had a sacrifice fly for the Red Sox, who can reach .500 with a win tonight for the first time since they were 2-2.
The loss, which came in Tampa Bay’s 1,000th game since changing the team name from Devil Rays to Rays, was the sixth in the last seven games for the Rays.
Tampa starter Erik Bedard, called to duty because of three injured starters, left after five innings — and relievers Brandon Gomes (1-1) and Juan Carlos Oviedo combined to yield five runs in the sixth.
Boston catcher A.J. Pierzynski broke the tie with an RBI single, his seventh RBI in his last five games. Third baseman Will Middlebrooks then doubled home a run to make it 2-1, center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. brought in two more with his second double of the night and Victorino’s double, made it 6-1.
Victorino, just 2-for-15 coming in after making his season debut last week, put Boston ahead with a fifth-inning sacrifice fly, but Rays third baseman Evan Longoria tied the game with a sac fly in the top of the sixth.
Catcher Ryan Hanigan singled home a run in the seventh, but designated hitter David Ortiz’s RBI-single matched that in the eighth inning, giving Boston its 7-2 lead.
First baseman James Loney had two doubles for the Rays, who scored two runs in the ninth inning off reliever Edward Mujica, who gave way to closer Koji Uehara. Uehara got the final out (on a three-pitch strikeout) for his sixth save, his 29th straight dating back to last season and including the postseason.
The Red Sox had the first real threat of the night in the fourth inning. With one out, first baseman Mike Napoli, reaching base for his 22nd straight game, walked and rode to third on a double by left fielder Jonny Gomes. However, Xander Bogaerts struck out, and Loney handled Pierzynski’s hot one-hopper to end the inning.
Loney then led off the top of the fifth with an opposite-field double, only the second hit off Lackey, but the veteran pitched out of trouble to keep the game even.
The Red Sox scored in the bottom of the fifth. Middlebrooks walked and took third on a double by Bradley Jr. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia lined out to Longoria, whose dive at the bag almost doubled off Middlebrooks. Victorino, who singled his first two times up drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.
Notes: Rays OF David DeJesus, who has a sore left shoulder, continues to serve as the designated hitter while nursing a sore shoulder. He hasn’t played the outfield since April 22, but he could return to the field soon. ... Tampa Bay C Ryan Hanigan, a native of Andover, Mass., played at Fenway Park for the first time. ... RHP Ryan Archer goes for the Rays against LHP Felix Doubront in the rain-threatened second game of the three-game series tonight. Doubront won his first 2014 start but is 0-3 with a no-decision in his past four starts. ... The 11-game hitting streak Boston SS Xander Bogaerts brought into Tuesday’s game was the longest by a Red Sox player 21 or younger since Tony Conigliaro hit in 13 straight in 1966. ... Rays 3B Evan Longoria on visiting Boston: “There is something about Fenway Park that makes baseball feel like a dream. It’s history before your eyes and underneath your feet.”