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.
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.