Tampa Bay scored in each of the first five innings Tuesday night, ripping Boston starter Jon Lester for three home runs and seven walks to post an 8-3 win over Boston, one night after the two teams went 14 innings and used a combined 29 players. Ray’s starter Roberto Hernandez recovered from a shaky start to improve to 4-6 on the year. The loss snapped a Red Sox three-game win streak and combined with a Baltimore 3-2 win over the L.A. Angels, reduced the Red Sox American League East lead to a single game. Hernandez three 122 pitches against the Red Sox and finished the night with 7 strike outs, seven hits and a pair of walks against 3 earned runs.
The win improved the Rays’ season mark against the Red sox to 2-6.
Jacoby Ellsbury once again jump started the Boston offense in the bottom of the first, opening the game with a single, stealing second, advancing to third on Shane Victorino’s single and scoring on Dustin Pedroia’s sacrifice foul out deep down the right field line to give Boston a 1-0 lead.
Boston starter Jon Lester, who danced with disaster all night, gave the run right back in the Ray’s bottom of the first. After Desmond Jennings reached on an infield single, Lester struggled with control and walked three batters to force in a run and knot the game at 1-1 after one.
Tampa took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second on a solo home run by Desmond Jennings to the deepest part of center at Tropicana Park, but the Red Sox responded an inning later when Mike Napoli stroked a bloop single to center to plate Jose Iglesias and Ellsbury to give Boston a short-lived 3-2 edge.
Tampa took a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the third thanks to a single by Ben Zobrist, a walk to Escobar and consecutive singles by Ryan Roberts, Jose Molina and Matt Joyce. Tampa tacked on another run in the fourth on a solo home run by Evan Longoria to make it 5-3.
Tampa chased Lester in the 5th. Roberts and Molina both coaxed walks to start the inning. Joyce followed with a two-run homer to make it 7-3. The walks represented the 6th and 7th for Lester, career highs. He was lifted for just activated Jose De La Torre who promptly gave up Desmond Jennings’ second home run of the night to push Tampa’s lead to 8-3 at the end of five.
Lester’s departure marked his earliest exit of the season. He left the game with an ugly pitching line of IP 4.2 R 7 H 8 ER 7 BB 7 K 3 PC 99. With the loss Lester fell to 6-3 and it marked the fifth straight start in which he recorded either a loss or no decision after beginning the year with a perfect 6-0 mark.
While Lester struggled, Ray’s starter Roberto Hernandez settled down and enjoyed the offensive support on a night when both bullpens needed a reprieve.
Iglesias’s single in his first at bat extended his personal hitting streak to 15 games. He added a second single in the 7th inning to keep his batting average well above .440 for the season. Iglesias got the start Tuesday at third base with recently recalled Will Middlebrooks getting the night off. Pedroia was hit by a pitch in the late innings, marking his 19th straight game he has reached base.
The Rays and Red Sox conclude their three-game series Wednesday with recently activated Alfredo Aceves facing Tampa’s Chris Archer at 1-1. Boston moves on to Baltimore for the weekend and a four game series with the Orioles before returning to Fenway for a short two-game set against the Rays.
- Rays batter Red Sox, Lester in Tampa (boston.com)
- Bosox bedevil Angels; hit road for A.L. East confrontations (baseballtrashtalkin.org)