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Rays Drop Third Straight, Niemann Struggles Again

Boston, MA (Sports Network) – Rookie Ryan Kalish belted his second grand slam and David Ortiz also went deep, as the Red Sox blasted Tampa Bay, 12-5, in the opener of a big three-game set at Fenway Park.

With this being the final series for Boston against the Rays, it’s imperative that the Red Sox sweep to continue hopes for a postseason spot. Monday’s win moved Boston within 6 1/2 games of the Rays for the wild card lead. Chicago is six back.

Jon Lester (16-8) struck out exactly 10 batters for a third straight game, all victories. The lefty limited the Rays to four hits and two runs over six innings.

Ortiz and Adrian Beltre hit back-to-back homers in the first inning for Boston, which was swept at home by the White Sox in a three-game series over the weekend. Victor Martinez added a two-run single in the second.

The Rays lost their third in a row and remained 2 1/2 games behind the first- place New York Yankees in the AL East.

Jeff Niemann (10-6) was pounded for a third straight start. This time the right-hander surrendered four hits and six runs over 1 2/3 frames. He’s given up 19 hits and 23 runs over his last three outings for an ERA of 20.70 in that span.

Andy Sonnanstine, called up from Single-A Hudson Valley earlier Monday, gave up five runs on five hits and four walks over 4 1/3 innings for the Rays.

Carl Crawford singled in a run in the top of the first, but Martinez walked ahead of Ortiz’s 28th homer of the season, a two-out shot just inside the pole in right field. Beltre then homered to left.

After Martinez singled in a pair the following inning, Ortiz doubled off Sonnanstine to drive in J.D. Drew for a 6-1 margin.

Sean Rodriguez singled in a run in the away third, but Kalish’s slam to right capped a big five-run fourth. The other run came in when Sonnanstine walked Jed Lowrie with the bases loaded.

Tampa Bay scored three times in the seventh, all on bases-loaded walks, but Scott Atchison got out of the inning by retiring pinch-hitter Reid Brignac on a pop foul to first and then getting Rocco Baldelli to fly out to left.

Yamaico Navarro’s sacrifice fly in the bottom half accounted for the final margin.

Game Notes

Lester moved to 9-3 lifetime against Tampa Bay…Beltre has 999 career RBI and 901 runs scored…Tampa Bay leads the season series, 10-6…Before the game, the Red Sox activated veteran catcher Jason Varitek from the 15-day disabled list. He had been on the DL since July 1 with a right foot fracture. The Red Sox also selected the contract of first baseman Lars Anderson and recalled outfielder Josh Reddick from Triple-A Pawtucket..Kalish also hit a slam in a 6-0 win over the Angels on August 17…This was the shortest non-injury related start of Niemann’s career.

Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.