BOSTON With three home runs including a Matt Joyce third-inning grand slam the Rays knocked Jon Lester from the game after just four innings.
The Rays took the first game in the three-game series, 7-4.
In his previous nine starts, he had given up just four home runs total. The three homers tied a career high, for the third time (along with April 1, 2011 at Texas and June 18, 2011, against Milwaukee) for the most home runs Lester has given up in a game.
Lester had a crisp 1-2-3 first inning to start the game, and Kevin Youkilis RBI single in the bottom of the frame gave him a brief lead. But, he gave up three walks one more than his past three starts, spanning 20 innings, combined. His ERA climbed from 3.95 to 4.72.
Lester has had just one shorter outing this season, April 17 against the Rangers in his third start of the year when he lasted just two innings. Other than that outing and Fridays, he had averaged just over 6 23 innings per start.
The Rays added back-to-back home runs in the fourth a two-run shot by No. 9 hitter Elliot Johnson and a solo shot by Carlos Pena, who leads all batters with six home runs off Lester.
The grand slam was the second Lester has allowed in his career, along with one by Paul Konerko in the fourth inning on Sept. 30, 2010, in Chicago.
Meanwhile, Rays right-hander Alex Cobb, making just his 11th big league start, held the Sox to two runs on three hits over the first five innings.
The Sox added a run in the fifth when Scott Podsednik singled, stole second, and scored on Adrian Gonzalez's double off the wall in left field.
They got two more in the sixth when the Rays sent three relievers to the mound. J.P Howell walked Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Daniel Nava, the only two batters he faced, to lead off the inning. Saltalamacchia scored on Marlon Byrds single to center off Burke Badenhop and Nava scored on Mike Aviles sacrifice fly. Badenhop was done after he hit Dustin Pedroia with a pitch. Left-hander Jake McGee ended the Sox threat by retiring David Ortiz on a flyout to right.
But, that was all the damage the Sox could do.
The benches emptied when Sox lefty Franklin Morales hit Luke Scott with a pitch with two on and no outs in the ninth. Morales also hit Will Rhymes with a pitch last week in Tampa Bay. Rays lefty Matt Moore hit Adrian Gonzalez last week in the first game of the two-game series. It was a day after Gonzalez had said he would hit a home run in the game. Moore hit Gonzalez with the first pitch of his first at-bat. Dustin Pedroia was also hit Friday night, in the sixth inning by Burke Badenhop.