St. Petersburg, FL (Sports Network) – Jon Lester allowed two hits over seven strong innings and Victor Martinez hit a pair of home runs as Boston downed Tampa Bay, 3-1, in the opener of a three-game series at Tropicana Field.
Jed Lowrie drove in the other run for the Red Sox, who have taken five of their last six games.
Lester (14-8) held Tampa to one run while fanning 10 to erase an uncharacteristic five walks. His one wild pitch was also responsible for the Rays’ lone run.
Jonathan Papelbon survived a shaky ninth to record his 33rd save.
Jason Bartlett collected two hits for the Rays, who have dropped two in a row since winning four straight.
David Price (15-6) was charged with 10 hits and three runs over seven full frames, with eight strikeouts in defeat.
Martinez hit a two-out solo homer in the first to get the Sox on the board, then Lowrie’s RBI single in the third made it 2-0 for Boston.
Lester did not allow a hit through the first three innings. Bartlett reached on a throwing error by Marco Scutaro to begin the fourth then Carlos Pena singled. Bartlett later came home on a wild pitch.
Lester worked out of trouble in the sixth, leaving two on with one out by getting Evan Longoria looking at strike three and retiring Willy Aybar on a grounder.
Martinez gave the BoSox a 3-1 edge in the seventh with his second solo shot of the game.
Tampa went meekly against Lester in the seventh and Daniel Bard turned in a scoreless eighth.
Papelbon walked Aybar and pinch-hitter Dan Johnson with two down but recovered to get pinch-hitter John Jaso to look at a third strike to end the game.
This was the second time in 2010 that Martinez went deep twice in a game, with the first coming at Yankee Stadium in an 11-9 loss on May 17…Despite the loss, Tampa Bay leads the season series 8-5…Lester also issued five bases on balls over six innings in a 2-0 win at Tropicana on May 25, in a game where he fanned nine…Prior to the game, the Rays added outfielder Brad Hawpe, signing him to a minor-league contract…Tampa outfielder Carl Crawford was a late scratch with a stomach virus.
08/27 22:44:59 ET