Rays move into 1st in AL East with 9-5 victory over Red Sox

Jul 31, 2021, 6:56 AM | Updated: 9:24 pm

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Wander Franco had two key run-scoring hits, the Tampa Bay bullpen worked out of a pair of bases-loaded jams, and the Rays moved into first place in the AL East with a 9-5 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday night.

Franco’s RBI triple off Nathan Eovaldi (9-6) gave Tampa Bay a 6-5 lead in the sixth. He added a run-scoring single during a three-run eighth that made it 9-5. Francisco Mejía had a two-run single in the eighth.

“We feel good, we’re obviously very excited and happy, but we’ve got to keep it going,” the 20-year-old rookie Franco said through a interpreter.

Andrew Kittredge (7-1) fell behind Christian Vázquez 3-0 with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth, but rebounded to get the strikeout. He kept the game tied at 5 when he fanned Bobby Dalbec on three pitches.

Boston also failed to score after loading the bases in the seventh, an inning in which reliever Jeffrey Springs sprained his right knee going after a bunt single by Rafael Devers that hit the third-base bag. Matt Wisler ended the threat by striking out Hunter Renfroe after the first two pitches were balls.

“Those guys are pretty special,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. “They certainly made big, big pitches when they needed to.”

Cash said it is “highly likely” that Springs will become the 15th Tampa Bay pitcher on the injured list.

The Rays got homers from Ji-Man Choi and Mejía. The Rays connected on three home runs in winning the series opener 7-3 on Friday night.

Xander Bogaerts and Dalbec homered for the Red Sox, who had at least a share of the divisional lead since June 28 but fell a half-game behind Tampa Bay.

“We had our chances, right?” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “We had bases loaded with one out. It was a one-run game going into the eighth, so we’ll take that as a positive.”

The Red Sox have given up 29 runs over the last three games and have a 4.93 ERA since the All-Star break.

Eovaldi gave up six runs and six hits over 5 1/3 innings. The right-hander allowed two homers after giving up just five over his previous 20 starts this season.

“It’s very frustrating to me, especially how big this game was for us tonight,” Eovaldi said. “This one is on me.”

Mejía hit a two-run homer in the fourth that put the Rays up 5-3.

Dalbec tied it at 5-all on a fifth-inning, two-run drive.

J.D. Martinez had an RBI single and Bogaerts followed with a two-run shot off Ryan Yarbrough as Boston went up 3-0 in the first.

The Rays cut the deficit to 3-2 later in the first on Choi’s two-run homer.

Tampa Bay pulled even at 3-3 in the third when second baseman Jonathan Araúz misplayed two grounders. Nelson Cruz drove in a run when Araúz misplayed his grounder for his second error of the inning.

Yarbrough gave up five runs and four hits in five innings.

RED SOX REINFORCEMENTS

LHP Chris Sale (Tommy John surgery) allowed one run over five innings in his fourth rehab start with Triple-A Worcester. He last pitched in the majors on Aug, 13, 2019.

Slugger Kyle Schwarber, acquired from Washington on Thursday, expects to start a rehab assignment “pretty soon” for a hamstring injury.

MILESTONE

Bogaerts played in his 1,000th game at shortstop, all with the Red Sox. He is the 70th player, and third with Boston (Everett Scott and Rick Burleson), to reach the total for a single franchise, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Red Sox: LHP Darwinzon Hernandez went on the 10-day IL with a right oblique strain.

Rays: Ace Tyler Glasnow is expecting to get a recommendation from doctors next week to have Tommy John surgery. He has been in the IL since June 15.

UP NEXT

Red Sox RHP Nick Pivetta (8-4) and Tampa Bay LHP Shane McClanahan (4-4) are the starters in the series finale Sunday night.

___

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Rays move into 1st in AL East with 9-5 victory over Red Sox