BOSTON (AP) _ Matt Joyce hit his second grand slam in six games
and Elliot Johnson had a two-run shot to lift the Tampa Bay Rays to
their third straight win, 7-4 over the Boston Red Sox on Friday
night in a game that saw the benches empty in the ninth inning.
Carlos Pena, inserted into the leadoff spot after a miserable
slump, added a solo homer for the Rays.
Adrian Gonzalez had an RBI double for Boston, which lost for
just the fourth time in 14 games.
The Red Sox (22-23) failed to move above .500 for the fourth
time this season. It’s the latest into a season they haven’t gone
over .500 since 1996 when they didn’t do it until late August.
Leading off the ninth Boston reliever Franklin Morales threw
behind DH Luke Scott with the first pitch and hit him in the hip
area with a 3-1 count. Scott was restrained by catcher Jarrod
Saltalamacchia and the benches and bullpens emptied. There was a
lot of pushing and shoving along the first-base line that carried
over behind home plate before order was restored.
Boston pitching coach Bob McClure and Ben Zobrist of the Rays
seemed to be the two most heated, but they were separated. When
things cooled down, Boston DH David Ortiz patted Scott on the back
and walked him partly to first. A few fans and Rays players were
yelling at each other near Tampa Bay’s dugout when the players left
the field after the incident.
Alex Cobb (2-0), making his second start since being recalled
from Triple-A Durham to take Jeff Niemann’s spot in the rotation
after the right-hander broke his right fibula, held Boston to two
runs and three hits, while walking four and striking out two in
Fernando Rodney got his 15th save in 15 chances.
Jon Lester (3-4) took the loss, giving up a season-high three
Trailing 1-0 in the third, the Rays took the lead on Joyce’s
slam into the Red Sox bullpen, his second in 13 at-bats. The other
came in a 5-2 win over Atlanta on May 19, also Cobb’s start. Tampa
Bay had loaded the bases on a single by B.J. Upton that was
sandwiched by walks to Pena and Zobrist.
Johnson and Pena homered three pitches apart in the fourth,
increasing the Rays’ lead to 7-1. Johnson’s went into the Green
Monster seats and Pena, hitting leadoff for the third straight game
after going 0 for 17, hit his into the first row of seats down the
right-field line, just past Marlon Byrd’s leap into the stands.
Pena has gone 4 for 12 with two homers and four RBIs since being
moved to the top of the order.
Lester, who had allowed just four homers all season before
Friday, was tagged for seven runs and six hits, walked three and
struck out four in four innings. He had held opponents to three
runs or fewer in four of his previous five starts.
Boston cut it to 7-2 on Gonzalez’s RBI double off the Monster,
but Cobb got Kevin Youkilis to bounce into an inning-ending ground
out with runners on second and third. It was the last batter he
Byrd had an RBI single and Mike Aviles a sacrifice fly,
narrowing the gap to 7-4 in the sixth.
The Red Sox had taken a 1-0 lead in the first on Youkilis’ RBI
NOTES: Scott looked like he was endearing himself to the fans a
bit before the game near Tampa Bay’s dugout during batting
practice, tossing at least a half dozen balls to fans, joking with
a number and signing autographs for many. During his last trip to
Boston, when the Rays were the opponent for the season-opening
series of Fenway Park’s 100th year, Scott was booed nearly every
time he came to bat for calling the park a “dump” during spring
training. But he later explained that it’s a tough place to work.
… Boston RHP Josh Beckett (4-4) faces David Price (6-3) on
Saturday night. … The Red Sox were off Thursday following a
stretch of 20 games in 20 days. … Zobrist was back in the Rays’
lineup after getting Wednesday’s game against Toronto off, just his
second of the season.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)