AP NEWS

Red Sox rally past Rays for 8th straight win

April 8, 2018

Boston Red Sox's Christian Vazquez, left, celebrates with relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel, right, after they defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in a baseball game, Sunday, April 8, 2018, in Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Red Sox are off to the best nine-game start in franchise history.

All the close ones are going their way right now.

Andrew Benintendi hit a tiebreaking RBI double in Boston’s wild six-run eighth inning, and the Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 8-7 on Sunday for their eighth straight win.

The Red Sox lost shortstop Xander Bogaerts to a left ankle injury in the seventh, but moved to 8-1 with the sweep of their three-game set against the struggling Rays. They also improved to 5-0 in one-run games.

“We stole that one again,” first-year manager Alex Cora said.

Bogaerts got hurt while sliding down into the Tampa Bay dugout. Cora said he expected to know more about the severity of the injury on Monday.

“Further evaluation tomorrow,” Cora said. “We’ll know tomorrow after all the tests and everything.”

Tampa Bay has dropped eight straight since its win on opening day.

The Rays led 7-2 before Boston’s impressive rally, helped by a pair of wild pitches by Tampa Bay.

Rafael Devers hit a two-run double and scored on Christian Vazquez’s single to get the Red Sox within one. Vazquez advanced on a wild pitch by Alex Colome (0-1) and scored on Mookie Betts’ single.

Benintendi followed with his clutch double to center, a highlight in a tough start for the young outfielder.

“Colome is one of the best closers in the league,” Cora said. “First of all we pushed them to bring him in early. After that it was good at-bat after good at-bat. It was fun to watch.”

Colome said Benintendi got ahold of a cutter.

“I did as best as I can and tried to throw strikes as best as I could,” he said through an interpreter. “That just happened to be the result of it.”

Colome also struggled in the series opener, allowing two runs and four hits in the ninth inning of Tampa Bay’s 3-2 loss.

“He’s human, so everybody can kind of go through a stretch. But we’re some good hitters, too,” Betts said. “I think it’s a mix of us putting together some good at-bats and putting some pressure and making him make pitches.”

Hanley Ramirez had two hits and two RBIs for Boston. Carson Smith (1-1) pitched a scoreless inning for the win, and Craig Kimbrel got three outs for his third save.

Tampa Bay had a season-high 11 hits and left 10 runners on base.

Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out five of his first six hitters in his first game back off the disabled list from knee surgery. But Tampa Bay’s C.J. Cron tied it at 1 with a home run in the second.

Carlos Gomez added an RBI double in the third, and Adeiny Hechavarria made it 3-1 Rays with an RBI single in the fourth.

Rodriguez was charged with three runs and five hits in 3 2/3 innings. He struck out seven and walked two.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rays: Manager Kevin Cash said Brad Miller tweaked his groin running out of the box. The plan was to have him checked out Sunday and evaluated again Monday morning.

Red Sox: Cora said Dustin Pedroia is progressing well. He is starting to run the bases, which is the next step in his rehab from left knee surgery. He took ground balls on Saturday and has been hitting for a month. “He’s moving well. He’s going side to side,” Cora said.

SURPRISE SONG

Brock Holt replaced Bogaerts and had one of the game’s most memorable moments when he batted in the eighth inning.

With Boston trailing 7-2, Holt walked out to Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You,” prompting a rolling cheer from the Fenway crowd. Holt said he thought he saw Tampa pitcher Matt Andriese laugh on the mound. Holt flied out for the inning’s second out.

“Why not Whitney?” Holt said. “I was a little nervous there for it to play in the situation that we were in. But I think they might have turned the volume up. I feel like it was a lot louder than everyone else’s walk-up song.”

UP NEXT

Rays: Open a three-game series at the Chicago White Sox on Monday. Chris Archer (0-0, 6.55 ERA) is 3-2 with a 4.29 ERA against the White Sox.

Red Sox: Begin a three-game series with the New York Yankees on Tuesday night. Boston ace Chris Sale (0-0, 0.82 ERA) makes his first home start of the season. He went 7-3 with a 3.16 ERA in 13 starts at Fenway last season.

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