Erik Bedard strong for 5 innings, but Rays drop opener to Red Sox
BOSTON (AP) — Tampa Bay’s bullpen provided little in the way of relief on a frigid spring night at Fenway Park.
Two walks followed by a string of hits got Boston rolling to a five-run rally in the sixth inning and the Red Sox held on for a 7-4 win Tuesday night.
Erik Bedard was strong through five innings, but the Red Sox forced him into some long counts and the Rays had to go to the bullpen to open the sixth. A 1-1 tie became a 6-1 lead for Boston before the inning ended.
"We’re used to seeing starters go deeper into games," manager Joe Maddon said. "Right now the pen has been asked to do a lot of different things and it’s shown up a little bit."
Shane Victorino had four hits and his first two RBIs of the season and John Lackey held Tampa Bay to two runs on six hits through eight innings.
Victorino, activated from the disabled list last week after missing the first 22 games with a hamstring injury, finished 4 for 4 to hike his batting average from .133 to .316.
Lackey (4-2) scattered six hits and allowed two runs, striking out five and walking one. After the Rays scored twice in the ninth, Koji Uehara came in and struck out Ben Zobrist on three pitches for his sixth save.
The Rays have lost six of seven and fell to a season-low five games below .500.
"I have no issue with the preparation, the effort and the ability. All that stuff is there. It’s not our time right now," Maddon said. "Every team goes through this. We’re going through our little taste of it right now."
Wil Myers had two hits and scored a run for the Rays. James Loney hit two doubles and joined Myers as the only Tampa Bay players with more than one hit. Both scored in the ninth on a throwing error by shortstop Xander Bogaerts, the only Boston starter who didn’t get a hit.
The Rays began the second leg of a 10-game road trip, which they started 1-3 in Chicago. Bedard held Boston to one run through five innings, but the Rays’ bullpen could not stop the Red Sox in the sixth.
Brandon Gomes (1-1) started the inning and walked Mike Napoli on a close pitch with a full count, then walked Jonny Gomes.
"I was just non-competitive. I needed to do a better job there attacking," Gomes said.
Juan Carlos Oviedo took over with one out and fared no better. A.J. Pierzynski hit an RBI single, then Will Middlebrooks and Jackie Bradley Jr. hit back-to-back doubles.
Bradley hit a shot to center that bounced off the wall in one of the deepest parts of Fenway Park, scoring Pierzynski and Middlebrooks easily. Bradley went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Victorino’s ground-rule double.
The Red Sox scored three more on three hits off Oviedo. Boston scored five times in the inning and sent nine batters to the plate.
Bedard got his third no-decision in four starts. He allowed four hits, striking out four and walking three.
Middlebrooks walked to start the fifth and went to third when Bradley doubled to center. The Rays nearly got out of it when Dustin Pedroia lined out to third baseman Evan Longoria, who made a dive for the bag. Middlebrooks was diving in the other direction and barely beat the tag, then scored on Victorino’s fly to center to put Boston up 1-0.
The Rays got the run back in the sixth when Desmond Jennings doubled with one out and scored on a sacrifice fly by Longoria.
Ryan Hanigan’s single in the seventh drove in Myers, who led off the inning with a double that was just a few feet left of being a homer to center.
NOTES: Napoli has reached base in 24 of 25 games this season. … It was the 28th anniversary of Roger Clemens’ first 20-strikeout game for Boston, when he broke the major league record for a nine-inning game against Seattle. … Red Sox DH David Ortiz played in his 1,994th game. … Tampa Bay played its 1,000th game since shortening the team’s name to the Rays in 2008. … The Rays fell to five games below .500 for the first time this season. Tampa Bay lost for the seventh time in eight road games and is 4-9 away from home.