BOSTON (AP) — Chris Sale doesn’t seem to care if each of his starts are low scoring.
He was dominant with 12 strikeouts over seven innings for his first victory with Boston, Mitch Moreland hit a solo homer and the Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1 on Saturday.
Sale (1-1) allowed one run on three hits with three walks, striking out seven of the last nine batters he faced. He’s given up just three runs in 21 2/3 innings so far with the Red Sox.
“That’s how you like it, man,” he said. “I like that. I like being in those ones that I can be that guy that can get a `W’ in those games. If they’ve all got to be like that, so be it. I look forward to the challenge.”
Boston acquired the 6-foot-6 left-hander from the White Sox for four prospects during the offseason. The Red Sox had lost five of eight. The Rays dropped their fourth in five games.
Tampa Bay’s Jake Odorizzi left his start after throwing one pitch in the second inning with left hamstring tightness. The Rays used four relievers.
“Outstanding effort by everybody that pitched after O,” manager Kevin Cash said. “They were asked to do some things that we normally wouldn’t ask of them.”
In each of Sale’s three starts the Red Sox have done very little offensively, collecting only three total runs.
But they got just enough on Saturday.
“Chris Sale: dominant, strong, any adjective you want to attach to it,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “He’s got three power pitches for a lot of swing and miss, and let’s face it the three starts he’s made for us he’s not had any margin of error.”
Sandy Leon’s broken-bat, bases-loaded ground out pushed across the tiebreaking run in the seventh. They loaded the bases on two singles and a walk against Tommy Hunter (0-1).
Matt Barnes worked a hitless eighth despite two walks, and Craig Kimbrel got the final three outs for his fourth save.
Erasmo Ramirez relived Odorizzi and Moreland belted his first pitch deep into the right-field seats, making it 1-0.
“The only mistake was the first pitch,” Ramirez said. “I expected he was going to swing at the first one.”
Longoria’s RBI single tied it in the third before Sale escaped a bases-loaded jam by striking out Derek Norris with a sharp slider in the dirt.
Sale breezed through the first inning, throwing only 11 pitches to retire the side in order, but the strikeouts and some long at-bats added to his 111-pitch total.
Rays: Odorizzi bent down in apparent pain after the pitch and threw two warmup pitches in front of manager Cash and a trainer before walking off slowly. “He’ll be on the DL,” Cash said. “He’s fine. We anticipate this will be a short stay.”
Red Sox: Lefty ace David Price, out since early spring training with a strained left elbow, threw a bullpen session. He said he hopes to face hitters next week “depending how I feel tomorrow.” He also said: “I haven’t had any setbacks yet” in discussing his progress from the injury. . CF Jackie Bradley Jr., on the 10-day disabled list with a sprained right knee, took BP on the field.
There was a moment of reflection before the game, marking the fourth anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings.
Two bombs went off near the finish line a little less than an hour after the Red Sox had beat the Rays, also on Jackie Robinson Day.
The explosions were about a mile away and could be heard at Fenway Park.
“Today also has a great significance in Boston of what happened four years ago today,” Farrell said.
The Rays made a handful of solid plays in the field. Third baseman Longoria made a diving play on a grounder and RF Steven Souza Jr. a diving catch for two of the better ones.
Rays: RHP Alex Cobb (1-1, 3.46 ERA) is scheduled to start Sunday. He went 7 1/3 innings in his last outing, the longest since he returned from Tommy John surgery last September.
Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz (1-0, 1.50) is in line to make his second start of the season. He went six innings, allowing one run in his debut on Tuesday.