Napoli's go-ahead HR lifts Red Sox over Rays
BOSTON -- Mike Napoli clocked a go-ahead two-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the seventh that just cleared the Green Monster to lift the Red Sox to a 7-5 victory over the Rays on Friday night at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox were down, 5-4, when Napoli belted Jake McGee's 96-mph fastball on a 2-2 count.
"Two fantastic at-bats in the seventh inning," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "David Ortiz, with an extended at-bat, he just misses the double. Able to work out a walk against probably a premium left-handed reliever. And Nap seemingly tomahawks a pitch that has just enough to get of here. A see-saw game back and forth, great to see us respond as we did with the two-run homer by Nap."
In the top of the seventh, the Rays took the lead on a two-run double to center by John Jaso against Junichi Tazawa. The right-hander then battled out of a two-on, nobody-out jam in the eighth to earn the win. Koji Uehara notched the save, No. 23 on the season.
Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez labored in this one, but kept the Red Sox in the game. The rookie gave up six hits and three runs while walking four and throwing 110 pitches over five innings. Erasmo Ramirez deserved a better fate for the Rays, allowing four runs -- but just one of them earned -- while striking out six over six innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Napoli stays hot: There was speculation Napoli would be traded prior to Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, but the slugger stayed put and continued the nice run he's been on of late. Napoli is hitting .333 (14-for-42) with three homers and nine RBIs since July 12.
"Coming out of the All-Star break, I got some rest, got away from the game a little bit and came back and had a good plan and stuck to it," said Napoli. "I've felt better each day. The things I'm working on are maintenance to keep this feeling that I have in the box. I'm just going to try to keep it going and move forward." More >
Botched first: The Rays took a 1-0 lead in their first at-bat before giving it back -- and then some -- in the bottom half of the inning. With one out, first baseman Logan Forsythe booted Xander Bogaerts' grounder. Ramirez followed with a wild pitch before Ortiz reached on a fielding error by second baseman Tim Beckham. The shoddy fielding added up to three unearned Red Sox runs.
Papi sets up Nap: Napoli's go-ahead homer wouldn't have happened without an epic at-bat by Ortiz, who worked McGee for 11 pitches before finally drawing a two-out walk. After struggling mightily against lefties earlier in the season, Ortiz has reversed that trend.
"Watching [David's] at-bat before me, he grinded out an at-bat and I had a good feeling after watching that, going to the plate. It made me really want to have a good at-bat," said Napoli.
Jaso produces: Joey Butler drew a leadoff walk in the seventh, and two outs later Red Sox left-hander Robbie Ross Jr. hit Mikie Mahtook with a pitch to bring Curt Casali to the plate. Red Sox manager John Farrell opted to bring in Tazawa, and Rays manager Kevin Cash countered by sending the left-handed-hitting Jaso to the plate to pinch-hit for Casali. Jaso came through with a two-run double to center that put the Rays up, 5-4.
"We're not good enough -- and I don't know any teams that are -- to give up extra outs. And that's what we did tonight."
-- Rays manager Kevin Cash, on his team's fielding
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Rays starting pitchers have recorded at least six innings and allowed one earned run or fewer in each of the club's last four games, their longest such stretch since a seven-game streak from Aug. 6-13, 2014. In that span, Rays starters have struck out 28 batters and issued only three walks.
The Red Sox are 39-1 this season when they lead after eight innings.
Rays: Matt Moore (1-2, 7.61 ERA) makes his sixth start since coming back from Tommy John surgery in Saturday's 1:35 p.m. ET game. He has not gone more than five innings in any of five of his starts this season, becoming the second in franchise history to start the season with five starts of five innings or fewer, joining Nick Bierbrodt (2003). Moore is 2-2 with a 3.86 ERA in five career regular-season starts against the Red Sox.
Red Sox: Righty Joe Kelly, who got roughed up in his last start, starts for the Red Sox in the middle game at Fenway. Kelly has pitched just once against the Rays in his career, giving up eight hits and five runs in a no-decision.
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