September 22, 2019 / 9:04 PM / a month ago

Big first inning lifts Red Sox past Rays

EditorsNote: Updates AL wild-card standings in graf 3

Sep 22, 2019; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora (right) talks with Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Charlie Morton (left) prior to their game at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Christian Vazquez hit a three-run homer in the first inning and the Boston Red Sox defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 7-4 Sunday afternoon in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (2-0) pitched six innings, allowing three runs on seven hits. He walked two, struck out six and didn’t allow a hit after a leadoff single in the fourth.

Joey Wendle and Brendan McKay homered for the Rays (92-64), who enter the final week of the regular season in a three-way battle with Oakland and Cleveland for the American League’s two wild-card playoff berths. The Rays and Indians (92-64) are tied for the second wild-card spot, two games behind the A’s (94-62).

Rays left-hander Ryan Yarbrough (11-5) barely made it out of the first inning, as the Red Sox sent 10 batters to the plate in taking a 4-0 lead.

With one out, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez hit consecutive singles, scoring one run and leaving runners at first and third. Vazquez followed with a deep blast to left field, his 22nd home run of the season. The Red Sox loaded the bases after Vazquez’s homer. But Yarbrough caught Jackie Bradley Jr. looking at a called third strike on a 3-2 pitch to get out of the jam.

The Rays scored single runs in each of the first three innings against Eovaldi.

Wendle led off the bottom of the first with a walk and moved to third on Austin Meadows’ single. Wendle scored when Tommy Pham grounded into a double play.

Brandon Lowe led off the second with a single, moved to second on a one-out single by Willy Adames and scored on Kevin Kiermaier’s single to center, making it 4-2.

The Rays pulled within a run in the third as Wendle led off with a homer to left field, his second.

The Red Sox knocked out Yarbrough in a two-run fourth. With one out, Bradley doubled. After a walk to Devers, right-hander Andrew Kittredge replaced Yarbrough. Kittredge hit Bogaerts with a pitch to load the bases and walked Martinez to force in a run. A wild pitch scored another to make it 6-3.

Yarbrough allowed six runs on eight hits in 3 1/3 innings, with one walk and two strikeouts.

The Red Sox tacked on a run in the seventh after Martinez and Vazquez led off with back-to-back singles. Two outs later, Chris Owings reached on a fielding error by Wendle at third base to increase the lead to 7-3.

McKay hit a pinch-hit homer in the ninth, the first of his career.

—Field Level Media

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