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Holt leads Sox to 7th straight
Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Tampa Bays Rays on Sunday at Fenway Park. Lester went seven innings, allowing four hits and no runs, striking out 12. (USA TODAY Sports)
It has taken the last seven to prove that wrong.
The defending champs, on the verge of disaster just a week ago, won their seventh straight on Sunday. They rode Jon Lester’s pitching and four doubles by rookie infielder Brock Holt to a 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Red Sox have done all of this with important lineup parts Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino and two starting pitchers on the disabled list. The starters followed Clay Buchholz’s bad start on Memorial Day with six straight strong outings, two of them resulting in the first two shutouts of the season. The only run the bullpen has allowed came on an inside-the-park homer on Saturday night after center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. was conked on the nose as the ball came off the wall.
On a normal day, Lester would have been the story as he evened his record at 6-6 with seven shutouts innings. He struck out 12 and allowed only four hits. But on this day, the story was first baseman Holt.
Not for the Rays, who put right fielder Wil Myers on the disabled list — the third Ray this week to hit the DL — before the game.
“It’s kind of been like that the whole season,” said manager Joe Maddon. “We’ll have a couple really good offensive days, then it kind of goes away. I’ll credit their pitching. Their pitching was very good once again. But we have to figure out how to break through.”
Veteran left-hander Erik Bedard, who once pitched for the Red Sox, fell to 2-4 with the loss.
The six straight Rays losses, all on the road, came after a four-game winning streak. Tampa scored three runs in three games in Boston in falling to 23-34.NOTES: Tampa Bay OF Jerry Sands was selected to the 40-man roster and was Sunday’s DH, hitting cleanup. He went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. ... SS Yunel Escobar was in the original Tampa lineup but was a late scratch for the straight game with a tight quad. He pinch hit late and stayed in the game. ... RHP John Lackey starts for the Red Sox tonight in Cleveland in the opener of a nine-game road trip.