Francisco Mejia cleared the bases with a single during a four-run ninth inning as the visiting Tampa Bay Rays rallied past the slumping Boston Red Sox 8-4 in the opener of a key three-game series Tuesday night.
Ji-Man Choi tied the game with a pinch-hit two-run double in the seventh as the Rays extended their winning streak to five. Tampa Bay has beaten Boston in six straight to pull ahead by five games in the American League East standings.
Hunter Renfroe hit a three-run home run for the Red Sox, who have lost 11 of their last 14.
After leaving the bases loaded in the eighth, the Rays once again had three on with two outs in the ninth against All-Star closer Matt Barnes. Mejia lined a hanging curveball that Renfroe misplayed in right field, allowing each runner to score for a 7-4 advantage.
A single by Brandon Lowe (3-for-4) added another run for Tampa Bay.
Barnes (6-5) allowed four runs to sustain his third loss in four days. Andrew Kittredge (8-1) earned the win, striking out five over two scoreless innings.
Boston was on the board first on Rafael Devers’ first-pitch homer to right in the second inning. Lowe’s first-pitch blast in the third knotted the score at one.
With two outs in the fourth, Renfroe crushed a 96 mph fastball to deep center for a 4-1 Red Sox lead. Wander Franco’s RBI single in the sixth got the Rays within two.
Choi’s game-tying hit in the seventh snapped an 0-for-19 skid. He was removed with left hamstring soreness after sliding into second base.
The Red Sox had two on with two outs in the seventh but couldn’t take advantage. The hosts similarly stranded the bases loaded in the fifth.
Boston starter Eduardo Rodriguez allowed two runs on four hits over 5 1/3 innings, striking out eight and walking one. Tampa Bay’s Luis Patino surrendered four runs on six hits and three walks in six innings, punching out seven.
–Field Level Media
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