Aviles, Saltalamacchia stay hot in Philadelphia

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Aviles, Saltalamacchia stay hot in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA -- A week ago, both were slumping badly. Now, it seems, no one can get Mike Aviles or Jarrod Saltalamacchia out.

Aviles homered for the third straight game Sunday, and led off the game with a homer for the second day in a row, becoming the first Red Sox player in almost a century to accomplish that feat.

For the series, Aviles had five hits and four RBI.

Saltalamacchia, meanwhile, belted a three-run homer well over 400 feet to straightaway center, for his second homer in as many games. Over his last six games, he has three homers and nine RBI.

Together, they accounted for all five runs the Red Sox scored Sunday in a 5-1 win over the Philadlephia Phillies.

"It's the Mike and Salty show, back-to-back days," said Bobby Valentine. "Pretty good to see."

Not since Harry Hooper had anyone homered to lead of two straight Red Sox games, though Aviles said that was hardly his goal.

"It was definitely fun," he said. "I just went up there, trying to set the tone and get on base and fortunate to get a ball to run into the good part of the bat and get one up in the air."

"To do that two nights in a row," said Valentine, "relaxes the offense a little and lets the pitchers know at least (they) have one run when they go out there."

Aviles was struggling not long ago, and his on-base percentage had dipped well below .300, causing Valentine to take a look at Ryan Sweeney as possible options to lead off.

But Sunday, Valentine seemed to commit to Aviles as his permanent leadoff choice -- at least until either Carl Crawford or Jacoby Ellsbury return to good health.

"I see him as the guy, who, if we need a leadoff hitter, he's going to lead off and set a very aggressive pace for our team," said Valentine. "I think we need that."

"It's fine," shrugged Aviles of the assignment. "It's no different than hitting ninth, second, seventh...wherever it is, it's thew same thing. I try to take the same approach - try to get on base and let the guys behind me do the damage.

"If I get on base enough, we have enough guys on this team who can hit the ball in the gap and I know I can run a little bit. I just try to get on base and whatever happens from there, happens."

Meanwhile, Saltalamacchia has also rebounded from a recent slump. After going 0-for-5 against the Indians on May 11, Saltalamacchia had dipped to .221.

Since then, over his last six starts, he's hitting .480 (12-for-26) with three homers and nine RBI.

He also homered in each of the last two games here, a feat made all the more remarkable given that he went to the hospital Friday night after suffering a laceration of the left ear that required a dozen stitches.

The Sox already led 2-0 in the third when Saltalamacchia came up with runners on second and third and one out against Cliff Lee.

"I just made good contact on a 2-0 changeup," said Saltalamacchia, "and I was able to put good wood on it. My only thought was, man on third, I needed to get him in, any way I can and it just worked in my favor."

While emphasizing that he views his catching responsibilities as his top priority, Saltamacchia is enjoying his current hot streak at the plate.

"I feel good," he said. "I'm trying to have a good approach and put good plate appearances together."

Quotes, notes and stars: Ortiz the oldest to hit 30 home runs in a season

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Quotes, notes and stars: Ortiz the oldest to hit 30 home runs in a season

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays:

QUOTES:

"It's one of those freak things. You don't plan on it happening, but it's one of those things. So we'll just see what the results say and move on from there.'' - Andrew Benintendi on his knee injury.

"That's kind of a routine 3-1 play. Unfortunately, it comes at a time when you've got two outs and a guy on the move. But that's a routine play.'' - John Farrell on the deciding play in which Heath Hembree couldn't hold onto the ball at first.

"I felt good. I felt strong.I felt good out there the whole game.'' - Rick Porcello, asked how he felt going back out for the eighth inning.

"I think everybody in the ballpark knew that that ball was leaving.'' - Porcello, on the hanging curveball to Evan Longoria.

 

NOTES:

* The loss snapped a five-game winning streak against the Rays for the Red Sox.

* Three of the four Red Sox walk-off losses this season have occurred because of errors.

* The homer by Evan Longoria was his first off Rick Porcello in 40 career at-bats.

* Rick Porcello has now pitched seven innings or more in six straight starts, the longest run for a Red Sox starter since John Lackey did it in 2013.

* David Ortiz is now the oldest player to ever hit 30 homers in a season

* Ortiz has now reached the 30-homer, 100-RBI level 10 times with the Red Sox, including the last four years in a row.

* The loss was the first of Heath Hembree's career, in his 67th major league appearance.

* Dustin Pedroia tied a career high with two stolen bases, the 12th time he's swiped two bases in the same game.

 

STARS:

1) Evan Longoria

The Rays were down to their final five outs when Longoria struck, hitting a game-tying homer off Rick Porcello.

2) Brad Miller

Miller's two-run double in the third enabled the Rays to stay close until Longoria's homer tied things up five innings later.

3) Rick Porcello

Porcello gave the Sox length and was brilliant in getting out of some early jams before settling in through the middle innings.

 

Shaughnessy: Everything Farrell does blows up in his face, particularly in 8th inning

Shaughnessy: Everything Farrell does blows up in his face, particularly in 8th inning

Dan Shaughnessy joins Sports Tonight to discuss Rick Porcello giving up a game-tying homerun in the 8th, and explains why John Farrell has been very unlucky with any decision he makes.

First impressions: Benintendi injured in Red Sox' 4-3 loss to Rays

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First impressions: Benintendi injured in Red Sox' 4-3 loss to Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays:

 

The injury to Andrew Benintendi looked ominous.

Benintendi's left leg buckled as he tried to elude a tag on the bases in the seventh inning. He left the game with the help of two trainers, hobbling badly.

The Sox later announced that Benintendi suffered a left knee sprain, and will be further evaluated Thursday.

It's impossible to determine how serious the injury is. The prognosis could be anywhere from a few days, to, potentially, a season-ending issue.

Regardless, it's a blow to the Sox, who clearly have benefited from Benintendi's athleticism and energy in the three weeks since he's been promoted from Double A.

 

Rick Porcello is gobbling up innings in the second half.

Porcello gave the Sox 7 2/3 innings Wednesday night, allowing three runs. It marked the sixth straight start in which Porcello provided the Sox with a minimum of seven innings.

Through the end of June, Porcello had pitched seven or more innings just four times. Since the start of July, he's done it seven times -- and came within an out of doing it in another start.

Porcello also extended his streak of pitching at least five innings to 34 straight starts, dating back almost a calendar year to Aug. 26 of last year. Of those 34, he's pitched at least six in 31 of those.

In fact, Porcello leads the majors in innings pitched since that streak began.

 

David Ortiz continues to amaze

In the first inning, Ortiz walloped a pitch into the right field seats for his 30th homer, giving the Sox a 2-0 lead three batters into the game.

The homer was significant beyond that, too. With it, Ortiz reached two milestones -- 30 homers and 100 RBI for the season.

It marked the fourth straight season in which Ortiz has reached both, and it also marked the 10th time as a member of the Sox that he had hit both plateaus.

The homer also meant that Ortiz is now the oldest player - at 40 years, 280 days old -- to hit 30 homers in a season. And finally, it gave Ortiz 100 RBI seasons with the Sox, passing Ted Williams, with whom he had shared the record of nine.

And, remarkably, there's more than a month left in the season to add on to those achievements.