BOSTON (AP) — Steven Wright followed a spot start by working with former Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.
He was much better this time.
Andrew Benintendi backed Wright with a go-ahead, two-run single as Boston scored three unearned runs following a dropped throw by second baseman Brad Miller, and the Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 on Monday in the annual Patriots’ Day game.
Wright (1-1) allowed only one earned run and nine hits before being pulled after a leadoff single in the seventh. The knuckleballer gave up four homers over 1 1/3 innings in his previous start.
Wakefield, who now works with NESN, won 186 games with the Red Sox from 1995-2011.
“I think anything can be better than the last start. I was fortunate to have Wake here, worked a lot,” Wright said. “I definitely was talking to him constantly the last four, five days just trying to bounce some things off him to get back to that timing and rhythm I had last year.”
Benintendi had three singles in the 11:05 a.m. start, which coincides with the Boston Marathon, and the Red Sox won their third straight after losing the opener of the four-game series.
Rookie Ben Taylor gave up a run-scoring single to Steven Souza Jr. with two outs in the seventh, then retired Logan Morrison on a bases-loaded flyout. Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth for a save on the third straight day, his sixth this season.
“He’s probably in the best spot he’s been from a delivery standpoint in the year and a half he’s been here,” said manager John Farrell, who had planned to give Kimbrel the day off until the closer came to him and said he could pitch.
Boston trailed 2-1 in the second when Miller dropped an easy toss from shortstop Tim Beckham for what would have been an inning-ending forceout on Marco Hernandez’s grounder. Benintendi’s single to center put the Red Sox ahead, and Mookie Betts singled for a 4-2 lead.
“Just didn’t catch the ball and it ended up costing us three runs and ended up being the difference in the game,” Miller said. “Just went in and came right out.”
Blake Snell (0-2) gave up four runs — one earned — and seven hits in five innings. The Rays completed a 1-6 trip that followed a franchise-best 5-2 start.
“Frustrating loss,” manager Kevin Cash said. “We talk about for us to have our best chance, we have to play clean baseball. We could probably go back to a couple plays on this road trip that it just didn’t go our way.”
Some of the Rays were playful in their clubhouse early in the morning, with Morrison joking to teammates about the starting time: “11 o’clock. Let’s play baseball.”
Brad Miller and Souza Jr. hit consecutive run-scoring grounders in the first. Both runs were unearned because Hernandez, Boston’s third baseman, dropped a foul popup by Kevin Kiermaier, who then singled.
Hanley Ramirez’s RBI single in the bottom half cut the lead in half.
Red Sox: Ramirez was back in the starting lineup at DH after coming out of Sunday’s game with a left hamstring cramp. … LHP Eduardo Rodriguez was placed on paternity leave after his wife, Catherine, gave birth to a boy Sunday. He will miss his scheduled start in Toronto on Tuesday.
The Red Sox wore white home jerseys with “Boston” across the front instead of “Red Sox.” It also included a patch that read “Boston Strong.” The jerseys and patch were created after the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013.
Ramirez was on the field signing autographs for a while about 30 minutes before the first pitch.
Betts hasn’t struck out in 123 consecutive plate appearances, the longest streak by a Red Sox player since Denny Doyle’s 159 in 1975.
Rays: RHP Matt Andriese (0-0, 4.50 ERA) is set to start Tuesday when the Rays open a three-game series at home against Detroit. RHP Michael Fulmer (1-0, 2.25) is scheduled for the Tigers.
Red Sox: Brian Johnson (0-0) will be called up from Triple-A Pawtucket to take Rodriguez’s turn when Boston opens a series at Toronto, which starts RHP Marcus Stroman (1-1, 1.76).