Red Sox neat Rays, 7-4, take 2-0 series lead

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Red Sox neat Rays, 7-4, take 2-0 series lead

BOSTON -- Unfortunately for him, Joe Maddon was prophetic before the game.

"You don't want to mess with good bullpens," the Rays manager said before his team went out to face the Red Sox in Game 2 of the ALDS, "and they have an outstanding bullpen."

Tampa Bay had clawed back from a 5-1 deficit and closed the gap to 6-4 with one out in the sixth inning when Sox manager John Farrell turned to that bullpen. Eleven outs, one hit -- and two sterling double plays -- later, Maddon's fear had come true.

That bullpen, backed by an 11-hit attack that was powered by two home runs from David Ortiz, pitched 3 2/3 shutout innings and delivered the Sox to a 7-4 victory Saturday night and a commanding 2-0 lead in the ALDS. It was Ortiz's first-ever postseason multi-homer game, and he was joined in the hit parade by Jacoby Ellsbury (3-for-4, 3 runs scored), Dustin Pedroia (1-for-3, 2 RBI), and, in fact, every member of the Sox batting order except Mike Napoli . . . who contributed in his own way by walking twice.

"Tonight," said manager John Farrell, "is one example of the relentlessness of this team. They look at each night as an individual challenge."

Game summary

The challenge on this night: David Price, who has been all been unhittable at Fenway Park.

"Facing good pitching like that, we [needed] to execute," said Ortiz.

"We knew it was going to be tough," said Pedroia. "We needed A-plus stuff, and we brought it."

Right from the start, they brought it. They broke on top, 2-0, in the first on a sacrifice fly by Pedroia and Ortiz's first home run. After the Rays cut it to 2-1 on Delmon Young's sacrifice fly in the second, the Sox tacked on two more in the third on back-to-back doubles by David Ross (traditional, off the wall) and Ellsbury (unique, a soft pop that landed just past third baseman Evan Longoria and rolled into short left field), followed by a Shane Victorino single and a fielder's-choice grounder by Pedroia.

Stephen Drew had that rarest of rarities -- a triple to left field at Fenway Park -- in the fourth on a ball that hit the wall and caromed past left fielder David DeJesus, driving in Jonny Gomes and making it 5-1.

But John Lackey, efficient through the first four innings, began to unravel in the fifth. He was touched for a two-run double by James Loney that narrowed the lead to 5-3; then, after Pedroia had gotten him a run back with an RBI double in the bottom of the fifth, Tampa Bay made it 6-4 in the sixth when Desmond Jennings singled, went to second on an infield grounder, and scored on Yunel Escobar's single to right.

That was enough for Farrell, who called on Craig Breslow. The veteran lefty got the final two outs of the inning on six pitches, and held the Rays scoreless in the seventh thanks to an acrobatic Dustin Pedroia-to-Stephen Drew-to-Mike Napoli double play to end the inning. Junichi Tazawa was the beneficiary of another Pedroia-to-Drew-to-Napoli twin killing in the eighth, as he was able to complete the bridge to Koji Uehara in the ninth.

Uehara came on and retired the side in order -- striking out the first two batters on six pitches -- to complete the victory.

"I don't know if we can continue to find words to describe him," said Farrell of his closer, who hasn't allowed an earned run since July 1. "He thrives on moments like tonight."

"He's an exciting player," added Ross. "He gets me excited and puts a smile on my face when I see him. It's a pleasure to catch him."

Before Uehara arrived, he had been given a bit of a cushion by an eighth-inning homer from Ortiz, who's 3-for-8 with a double and two homers in the first two games of the series.

"When he's cooking, he's very difficult," said Maddon.

As are the Sox.

Report: White Sox scouting Red Sox' minor league affiliates for possible trade

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Report: White Sox scouting Red Sox' minor league affiliates for possible trade

Though the chances are slim the Red Sox and White Sox make a blockbuster trade before the MLB trade deadline, Chicago is at least sending resources to Boston's minor league affiliates to scout their prospects.

ESPN Boston's Scott Lauber first reported Friday the White Sox were scouting Double-A Portland (home of Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi), but Ken Rosenthal adds they were also at their Single-A and Triple-A affiliates.

Though one would assume the Red Sox are seeking prospects for a potential return on Chris Sale, Rosenthal thinks it could be "for reasons other than Sale" and that some believe the White Sox are "simply laying groundwork for off-season trade."

Stay tuned for more.

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 6-2 win over the Angels

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Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 6-2 win over the Angels

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 6-2 win over the Angels:

QUOTES

* “He just had very good command the entire night. Stayed ahead in the count [and] pitched to all quadrants of the strike zone. He used his four-seamer in on some powerful right-handed hitters in their lineup.” John Farrell on Rick Porcello’s performance.

* “We needed a win bad and swung the bats well and played good defense. That’s a big win for us.” Rick Porcello said after his win in an interview with NESN.

* “24 hours ago we were probably in a much different place mentally after a ball game like tonight.” Farrell on the win.

“That was probably the first time I sat on off-speed pitches this whole year. I took a chance, took a gamble.” Jackie Bradley Jr. said on his home run.

NOTES

* Rick Porcello completed his first game in a Red Sox uniform in the 6-2 win. The CG was the fifth of his career and his first since he threw three in 2014. The righty has 14 wins, one win shy of tying his career high.

* Xander Bogaerts had his first multi extra-base hit performance of the season since June 11. He’s only done that twice this season. He extended his hitting streak to 11 games.

* David Ortiz logged his 85th RBI of the season in the win and Mookie Betts his 67th. Heading into Friday night’s game, the two were one of five pairs of teammates ranking in the top 20 in RBI. The list includes Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson, Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story, Adam Duvall and Jay Bruce and Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant.

* Dustin Pedroia has now reached base safely in 32 straight games.

STARS

1) Rick Porcello

Porcello had his first complete game in a Red Sox uniform, stopping Boston’s losing skid at four games.

2) Xander Bogaerts

Bogaerts finished with a double and a home run -- the only Boston hitter with multiple hits. He also led the Red Sox with three RBI and scoring twice in the win.

3) Dustin Pedroia

In addition to walking in his first two at-bats, Pedroia had a base hit -- and another walk -- scoring twice on the night.

First impressions of the Red Sox' 6-2 win over the Angels

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First impressions of the Red Sox' 6-2 win over the Angels

First impressions of the Red Sox 6-2 win over Los Angeles:

Rick Porcello is not fazed by his fellow staff members’ struggles.

Although his teammates continue to deal with frustrations on almost a nightly basis, Porcello got the job done and put Boston in a position to win once again.

The second-inning double by Daniel Nava should have been a single, had Jackie Bradley Jr. not misplayed a funny hop. If that hit is a single, the next ground ball is a double -- and the following grounder ends the inning.

One of the most impressive components of his outing was dealing with Cole Kalhoun, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols to finish his outing after already facing them three times on the night.

Xander Bogaerts had his first multi-hit game in a week.

Which in the grand scheme of things isn’t a long time -- but that can feel like a long time given the shortstop’s output this year.

It was also his first multi extra-base hit performance since June 11.

Oddly enough, those are his only two games of that kind this season.

In addition to the win, Porcello did the bullpen a favor.

Not necessarily because the relievers needed rest, but with Ziegler’s last two rough nights, they could use a break.

Although Joe Kelly and Clay Buchholz got warm late, it was more so to keep them fresh for the coming games since they haven’t thrown much.

Additionally, he gave an example for the Red Sox starting rotation that they are in fact capable of going the distance.

Tim Lincecum is barely a shell of what he used to be.

That first inning was hard to watch. The former Cy Young Award-winner threw eight straight balls, and somehow managed to work past. Even his final throw to first base in he opening frame looked like it was going off the mark.

Just hard to watch in general, which made it all the more shocking that the Red Sox couldn’t score against him.

Good for them that he never adjusted, and they took advantage of it in the ensuing innings.