(Reuters) - The Boston Red Sox batted around in two successive innings to back the superb pitching of Jon Lester in a 12-2 rout of the visiting Tampa Bay Rays in the opener of their American League Division Series on Friday.
Boston sent 10 men to the plate in a five-run outburst in the fourth inning, and got everybody to the plate again in a three-run fifth in taking a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
It was an embarrassment of riches given the way Lester was throwing, as the left-hander limited Tampa Bay to three hits in 7-2/3 innings, striking out seven while walking three.
The fourth-inning surge against Rays starter Matt Moore erased a 2-0 deficit and was helped by a number of Rays misplays, including a lapse by rookie right-fielder Wil Myers that helped jump start the rally.
After a Dustin Pedroia single, David Ortiz lofted a deep fly to right that Myers was in position to haul in. But Myers pulled up short of the fly thinking center fielder Desmond Jennings was getting it, and the ball dropped behind him for a double.
Later in the inning Stephen Drew beat out an infield hit when first baseman James Loney made a weak toss to pitcher Matt Moore covering first and Jonny Gomes scored all the way from second as Moore was late to look toward home.
Two batters later Jacoby Ellsbury reached first safely when catcher Jose Lobaton was charged with a passed ball on a strike three swing and miss. That allowed Boston to score another run on a single by Pedroia.
“We didn’t play our best game,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “We’ve been playing really well, not been making any mistakes. We made a bunch tonight.”
About Myers’ gaffe, Maddon said: ”He kind of saw Desmond coming out of the corner of his eye and just backed off. A routine play. Very unfortunate.
“Matty (pitcher Moore)was not bad actually. We just kind of messed it up in that inning. He had to get six outs that inning.”
Lester struck out the first four batters of the game before giving up a home run over the fabled Green Monster wall in left to Sean Rodriguez that gave the Rays a 1-0 lead. Another Green Monster home run by Ben Zobrist in the fourth made it 2-0.
But that deficit evaporated in Boston’s mid-game eruption as doubles rang off the bats of Ortiz, Gomes, Will Middlebrooks, Mike Napoli and Jarrod Saltalamacchia in their two big innings.
Boston tacked on four more runs in the eighth as every Red Sox starter had at least one hit and one run scored in the game.
Tampa Bay’s Moore was charged with eight runs, seven earned, in 4-1/3 innings on eight hits and two walks.
Even Boston manager John Farrell felt bad for what happened to Moore in the fourth.
“David got credited with that double in the fourth inning and we were able to bunch some hits after that,” he said. “So instead of one man on with an additional out for them, we were on second and third with none out.”
Said Gomes: “Like I told some of these guys, when you get to the playoffs you’re going to see something you haven’t seen all year and there it was.”
Game Two of the series is scheduled for Saturday at Fenway Park.
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York, Editing by Gene Cherry