BOSTON (AP) — With only one trip remaining to Fenway Park this season, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon wanted his players to feel the urgency of notching a victory at the home of the AL East leaders.
A couple of youngsters helped ensure the Rays finally left town with a win under their belts.
Desmond Jennings homered, top prospect Wil Myers recorded his first career RBIs and Tampa Bay ended its run of futility at Fenway, beating the Boston Red Sox 6-2 Wednesday night.
The Rays had scored a total of five runs in losing their first five games at the ballpark this season, including a doubleheader sweep Tuesday during which they managed a pair of runs on 10 combined hits.
What a difference a day can make.
“There’s some new guys within the group and they need to feel it also here,” Maddon said. “We have to beat these guys. You’ve got to beat the people in front of you in the division, obviously.”
Jose Molina and Evan Longoria had three hits apiece in Tampa Bay’s 15-hit attack and the Rays ended a three-game losing streak with their second win in eight games. It was their third win in 12 games against Boston this season.
“We have to get back even with these guys, or close to even,” Maddon said. “They’ve had their way with us.”
After going a combined 1 for 7 in his extended major league debut during Tuesday’s doubleheader, Myers delivered a two-run double in a three-run seventh that broke the game open.
Maddon wasn’t shy in expressing his optimism for the 22-year-old.
“I was talking about that I think in the entire camp,” he said. “I just thought he ran better than I had been told, he threw better than I had been told, he was a better defender. He’s a big, good athlete is what he is.
“He’s the proverbial five-tool guy — maybe the six-tool with the makeup, too,” Maddon added. “He’s on the right path.”
Coming off one of his worst outings of the season, Jeremy Hellickson (5-3) won for the third time in four starts, surrendering two runs on seven hits with four strikeouts and no walks. It was a vast improvement from Thursday, when he tied his career-high by allowing eight runs in a 10-1 loss to Kansas City.
“It was nice to actually finish a game on a good note,” Hellickson said. “I’m right where I want to be. I just want to eliminate the big inning that I’ve been giving up. Tonight, I got out of the two jams I was in. It was good to see.”
Rays pitchers retired 16 of the last 18 batters of the game, yielding one hit over the final five frames.
Jacoby Ellsbury and Jonny Gomes had two hits apiece for the Red Sox, who lost for the second time in five games, but still lead Baltimore by 1 games in the AL East.
“Hellickson kept us off-balance with both his curveball and his changeup and he threw enough fastballs to keep us honest,” Boston manager John Farrell said. “I thought we put up some good at-bats against their guys.”
Ryan Dempster (4-8) was seeking his third win in four starts, but was hit hard in the first inning before settling down. The right-hander gave up three runs on eight hits over six innings, walking two and striking out three.
The Rays scored as many runs in the first Wednesday as they did in 18 innings a day earlier.
Jennings hit his ninth homer with one out in the first, depositing Dempster’s sixth pitch of the game into the seats above the Green Monster in left field. The Rays made it 2-0 when Ben Zobrist singled, moved to third on a base hit by Longoria and scored on a sacrifice fly by James Loney.
“I just made a mistake to Jennings that he hit for the home run and they got a couple of balls that fell in. Just the way it goes sometimes,” Dempster said. “I just wish we were winning more of the games that I’m starting. That’s all I care about, is the day I pitch that we win and were not winning those right now.”
Boston cut it to 2-1 in the second when David Ortiz led off with a double to deep center and scored on an infield single by Gomes.
Longoria nearly saved a run in the fourth on a liner by Gomes, but the third baseman couldn’t squeeze the ball in his outstretched glove, allowing Jarrod Saltalamacchia to trot home and tie the game.
Dempster retired seven straight before Molina singled to open the fifth and scored on a base hit by Zobrist that put the Rays back on top for good. Longoria added an RBI single off reliever Craig Breslow in the seventh that made it 4-2.
“This year’s been awkward — a lot of close losses late, and that’s something again that we’re not normally used to,” Maddon said. “We have to get better with that, and hopefully this is the kind of game that can push you in the right direction.”
NOTES: Boston C David Ross is headed to Pittsburgh on Thursday to be examined by a concussion specialist. Ross is currently on the seven-day concussion DL. … Red Sox RF Shane Victorino got the day off. … The Red Sox on Wednesday signed their first-round draft pick, LHP Trey Ball, the seventh overall selection. … The Rays continue their seven-game road trip Thursday when they visit Yankee Stadium for the first time this season. It will be the 2,500th game in Tampa Bay history. … Red Sox RHP Alfredo Aceves was optioned back to Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday night after earning the win in the first game of the doubleheader. … Boston 3B Jose Iglesias went 0 for 2, ending his career-high 18-game hitting streak.