By FRED GOODALL AP Baseball Writer
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) _ Adrian Gonzalez homered and David
Ortiz, Darnell McDonald and Dustin Pedroia drove in runs to back
starter Clay Buchholz and lead the Boston Red Sox to a 4-2 victory
over the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday night.
The win was the 11th in 12 games for the AL East leaders, who
concluded a 10-day, nine-game trip with an 8-1 record _ Boston’s
best mark on a trip of at least nine games since 1977.
The Red Sox retained a 11/2-game lead over the New York Yankees in
the division and dropped the third-place Rays 51/2 off the pace by
rebounding from losing the opener of the three-game series to win
the final two.
Buchholz (6-3) allowed one run and two hits in five innings,
limiting the Rays to Sam Fuld’s second-inning RBI double and B.J.
Upton’s fourth-inning single before leaving the game because of
lower back tightness. Tampa Bay trimmed a 3-1 deficit to one run on
Casey Kotchman’s solo homer off Alfredo Aceves in the sixth.
Gonzalez’s solo shot off Kyle Farnsworth restored a two-run lead
in the ninth.
Boston reliever Daniel Bard retired all four batters he faced
and closer Jonathan Papelbon worked through a ninth-inning jam to
earn his 13th save in 14 opportunities.
Kotchman doubled and Upton reached on an infield single to begin
the Tampa Bay ninth. Pinch-hitter Elliot Johnson fouled out trying
to lay down a sacrifice bunt, and Papelbon escaped by striking out
pinch-hitter Justin Ruggiano and Sean Rodriguez to end the game.
Ortiz drew a bases-loaded walk in the first after Rays starter
David Price (7-6) drew a warning from home plate umpire Gary
Darling for hitting Kevin Youkilis with a pitch in the left arm to
fill the bases. Both benches were warned, and Price settled down to
strike out Jed Lowrie and get Carl Crawford to ground out.
McDonald singled and Pedroia doubled to drive in runs to make it
3-0 in the second. Ortiz drew a two-out walk to load the bases
against Price again, but Boston missed out on an opportunity to do
more damage when Marco Scutaro popped out to end the inning.
Price walked a season-high five while allowing three runs and
five hits in five innings. The 25-year-old left-hander struck out
Tampa Bay’s bullpen kept the Rays in it with Juan Cruz, J.P.
Howell, Joel Peralta and Farnsworth teaming to hold the Red Sox
hitless until Gonzalez’s 14th homer with two outs in the ninth.
Notes: Boston manager Terry Francona said Papelbon’s appeal of a
three-game suspension for making contact with umpire Tony Randazzo
on June 4 is getting closer to a resolution. … Rays manager Joe
Maddon expects DH Johnny Damon will play in the field a couple
times during a six-game interleague trip next week to Milwaukee and
Houston. … Red Sox CF Jacoby Ellsbury did not start, but entered
the game as a pinch-hitter in the eighth. … Lowrie left the game
in the first inning due to a sore left shoulder. … Tampa Bay
Lightning backup goalie Mike Smith homered during batting practice.
He got the ball and a shaving cream pie in the face for his
long-ball effort. Smith and teammates Steven Stamkos, Nate Thompson
and Teddy Purcell threw out ceremonial pitches. … The Red Sox
will push back the start time of their Saturday home game against
Milwaukee from 1:10 p.m. to 7:10 p.m. to avoid a conflict with the
Boston Bruins’ Stanley Cup victory parade.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)