Red Sox beat Rays for third straight win
BOSTON — Way back in 1953, Mel Parnell went 21-8 and Mickey McDermott 18-10 for the Boston Red Sox.
That was the last time Boston had two left-handers win at least 15 games in the same season.
Drew Pomeranz matched Chris Sale with his 15th and Mookie Betts hit his first home run in more than a month, a three-run shot in the first inning, to power the Red Sox to their third straight win, a 9-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night.
“We staked him to a three-run lead and he went out (and did) as he’s been doing,” Boston manager John Farrell said after Pomeranz, the most pleasant surprise for this team this season, went six strong to improve his record to 15-5.
“It’s always nice to have that cushion early,” Pomeranz said.
Coming off his first loss since June 11, Pomeranz made it 9-1 in his last 16 starts by allowing two hits, including a two-run homer by Jesus Sucre that made it 8-2 in the fifth. He had a no-hitter through 4 1/3 and has allowed three earned runs or less in 14 of those starts.
He and Sale, who pitches Saturday night, are part of a five-way tie with Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer of the Cleveland Indians and Ervin Santana of the Minnesota Twins for the American League wins lead.
Betts hadn’t homered since Aug. 3 and, with nobody out and two on in the first inning, he lined a Chris Archer pitch the other way, tucking his first homer in 121 at-bats inside the Pesky pole. This after making one of his fine catches for the second out of the top of the inning.
“I’m out there trying to make pitches and our defense is so good behind me,” Pomeranz said. “It’s more of a reason to make pitches and let them hit it because if it’s anywhere in the vicinity of our guys they’re going to make a play.”
While playing outstanding defense, Betts had been struggling at the plate, but Farrell likes what he has seen as Betts has gone 5-for-14 in the last three games.
It was Betts’ 12th hit and his fourth homer in 30 career at-bats (10 RBIs) against the right-hander, who struck him out in the third.
Archer (9-9, 2-12 lifetime against Boston) lasted three-plus inning in his first start since leaving his previous outing after two batters with forearm tightness. The Red Sox broke the game open and chased Archer with five runs in the fourth.
“I felt fine,” Archer said after allowing a season-high eight runs (six earned). “That’s the only positive I can take from tonight is I felt good and my stuff was good. But I have to execute better. Everything was good — as far as health goes.”
Rafael Devers had three of Boston’s 12 hits, also drew a walk and scored three runs. Fellow rookie Andrew Benintendi collected two hits, an RBI and two runs scored. Christian Vazquez had two hits, including an RBI double.
The loss dealt a blow to the Rays’ wild-card chances. They came in 3 1/2 games out of the second wild-card spot but had three teams in front of them and are dealing with the stress of what is going on with the impending hurricane in Florida.
Asked if he thought the Rays might have been distracted by the storm, manager Kevin Cash said, “No, I don’t. I’m sure everybody’s got it in the back of their mind and I would hope they do because they care. But no, when 7 o’clock comes, they’re able to separate that for the 3, 3 1/2 hours.”
The Red Sox moved 4 1/2 games ahead of the New York Yankees atop the American League East.
The Rays lost right fielder Steven Souza Jr. in the fourth inning with a bruised left knee after he crashed into a side wall down the right field line. Tests showed no structural damage and more tests will be made Saturday.
In the fifth, Sucre followed Brad Miller’s one-out single with his home run — his fourth and fifth RBIs in last two games at Fenway Park.
The homer extended the Rays’ homer streak to a season club record 18 games.
Miller came in 9-for-18 lifetime against Pomeranz, who hit him with a pitch his first time up.
NOTES: The Rays have had their three-game series against the Yankees on Monday through Wednesday shifted to the Mets’ Citi Field, where Tampa Bay will be the home team. ... This is the second straight season the Rays have been in Boston while a hurricane hit Florida. ... Boston manager John Farrell said the club’s Jet Blue Park in Fort Myers is closed to baseball and will be used as a first responder headquarters. ... Red Sox INF Eduardo Nunez rested with back spasms but should return Saturday. ... LHP David Price, on the disabled list with elbow trouble, will throw a short simulated game Saturday at Fenway Park. ... Red Sox broadcaster Jerry Remy returned to the NESN booth after undergoing chemotherapy ... Rehabbing Rays RHPs Nathan Eovaldi (Tommy John surgery) and Xavier Cedeno (forearm) will start in the playoffs for Double-A Montgomery. ... RHP Matt Andriese takes on Boston LHP Chris Sale in the second game of the series Saturday night. Sale is 3-1 against the Rays this season. ... The Rays will then start Alex Cobb in Sunday’s finale.