Red Sox overcome cold, beat Rays 7-4

Red Sox overcome cold, beat Rays 7-4
April 29, 2014, 11:00 pm
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(USA Today Sports Images)

BOSTON -- The Tampa Bay Rays were one opponent. The cold, raw weather was another.

Eventually, the Red Sox managed to overcome both Tuesday night in the first game of an eight-game homestand, blasting the Rays 7-4 in the first meeting of the season between the two clubs who met in  the American League Division Series last October.

The teams traded sacrifice flies - and little else - through the first 5 1/2 innings, with hitting conditions far from favorable.

But in the bottom of the sixth, the Red Sox erupted for five runs, with most of the damage coming from the bottom third of the order.

Brandon Gomes issued two walks and the Sox made the next Rays reliever, Juan Carlos Oviedo, pay with a run-scoring single from A.J. Pierzynski, an RBI double from Will Middlebrooks and a two-run double from Jackie Bradley Jr.

Shane Victorino, who had delivered the first run in the fifth on a sacrifice fly, then sliced an opposite-field double to right, giving him his first two RBI of the season. Victorino finished the night with four hits plus the sacrifice fly.

Together, the bottom third of the order combined to contribute five hits, a walk, four RBI and four runs scored for the night.

David Ortiz delivered the final run in the eighth with a single to  center, scoring Dustin Pedroia. 

John Lackey went eight innings to improve to 4-2, allowing just two runs on six hits. For the second straight start, he didn't allow a single walk after having issued four walks two starts ago.

Tampa Bay starting pitcher Erik Bedard kept the Rays in the game, allowing just one run, but was done after five thanks to an inflated pitch count of 104.

 

STAR OF THE GAME: John Lackey

Lackey delivered the Red Sox third quality start in the last four games, allowing just two runs on six hits over eight innings. For the second straight outing, Lackey didn't walk a single hitter.

HONORABLE MENTION: Shane Vcitorino

In just his fourth game this season and second at Fenway, Victorino made his presence felt with a four-hit night. He also added a sacrifice fly and had two RBI on the night.

GOAT OF THE GAME: Brandon Gomes

The Fall River native took over for starter Erik Bedard in the bottom of the sixth in a 1-1 game. He promptly walked the first two hitters he faced. Gomes did record an out, but both baserunners he was responsible for came around to score in the five-run inning for the Red Sox.

TURNING POINT: The two walks from Gomes in the sixth set the stage for the Red Sox' biggest inning of the night.

BY THE NUMBERS: Mike Napoli, who came into the game averaging 4.59 pitches per plate appearance, second among all major league qualifiers, saw 33 pitches in five plate appearances.

QUOTE OF NOTE: "It's a little taste of what we like to do, but we've got to stay consistent with it and keep it going.'' Mike Napoli on the Red Sox grinding out at-bats and getting results to show from it.