BOSTON -- With the offense hitting lasers from gap to gap and Chris Sale in top form from the mound, the Red Sox rolled over the Rays for the second straight night at Fenway Park, notching a 9-0 victory on Saturday to maintain a 4 1/2-game lead over the Yankees in the American League East.
With such a generous display of offense, Sale was able to come out after just six innings and 97 pitches. The lanky lefty scattered six hits while walking one and striking out eight to take over the AL lead in wins with 16.
"Yeah, that's nice. Any time your offense goes out there and flat-out explodes, I mean they went off tonight," said Sale. "That's nice to see. I feel like that off-day [on Thursday] really did us well. As you can see the last couple nights we've been swinging it really well."
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Andrew Benintendi led the 15-hit attack by going 3-for-5 with three RBIs. Mitch Moreland went 2-for-4 and drove in three. Dustin Pedroia had two hits, including a two-run homer. Eduardo Nunez and Rafael Devers had two hits each. Nunez had to exit in the second inning with a right knee contusion. Xander Bogaerts came in for Nunez and also had two hits.
In the first two games of this three-game series, the Red Sox have outscored the Rays, 18-3. The Rays are 4 1/2 games back of the Twins -- with five clubs between them -- in the chase for the second AL Wild Card spot.
"That's the second night in a row that we've kind of gotten beat up in the first inning and it's kind of carried over," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Especially when you're facing a guy like Chris Sale, it's tough."
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The intrigue was gone from this one early, as Boston scored three in the first and five in the second to deliver an early knockout to Rays righty Matt Andriese (1 2/3 IP, 7 H, 8 R, 6 ER).
Benintendi and Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier exchanged spectacular catches in the fifth. Benintendi jumped as high as he could and banged into the scoreboard in left field to pull down a fly ball by Adeiny Hechavarria. In the bottom of the inning, Kiermaier raced to the gap in left-center to snatch what would have been a sure double by Mookie Betts.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Pedroia delivers early: For the second straight night, the Red Sox got a multi-run homer in the first inning. This time, it came off the bat of Pedroia, who bashed a two-run shot over the Green Monster to open the scoring. It was Pedroia's first home run since July 20, and his seventh of the season.
"Tonight with Andriese, a little head-scratching why we're trying to go in to Pedroia," Cash said. "I've been around him a long time and the league knows him. He handles the ball in, he's proven that over a 10-plus-year career. So I'm not quite sure what the thought process was, but that put us in a 2-0 hole."
Benintendi puts rout in progress: With one on and two outs in the second, Andriese had a chance to keep it a reasonably close game at 3-0. But he gave up an infield hit to Nunez and walked Pedroia, which set up Benintendi for a big two-run double off the Green Monster. The Sox went on to score five in the inning to make it 8-0.
"Just not one of those good days. I was out there throwing strikes, but they were too hittable pitches. Elevating the fastball a little bit, just not going about it the way I would like to, and obviously the results weren't there." -- Andriese, on his performance
"I think everyone knows that thing is going right where I live. It's rolling. It's tough. Everybody in my family lives down there. My family, my wife and kids came up here. My in-laws are staying with my sister and my parents are getting out of there tomorrow. Everyone is safe but it's still scary. You just hope for the best." -- Sale, who lives in Naples, Fla., on Hurricane Irma
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Sale has dominated Rays hitters this season, striking out 57 in 35 innings and walking just seven while going 4-1 in five starts.
The Rays challenged a call at first base in the third inning when Kiermaier grounded into a 1-6-3 double play, but the ruling after a replay review was that the call would stand, leaving the Rays without a challenge for the remainder of the game.
Benintendi's third hit of the night came when he beat out an infield single in the seventh. Originally he was called out, but Red Sox manager John Farrell issued a challenge and the call was overturned.
Rays:Alex Cobb gets the nod Sunday in the finale of the Rays' three-game series against the Red Sox in a 1:35 p.m. ET contest. Cobb is 4-1 with a 3.34 ERA in six career starts at Fenway Park.
Red Sox: Right-hander Rick Porcello will try to avenge a tough start last time out and pitch the Red Sox to a sweep of this series when he takes the ball in Boston. Porcello is 1-3 with a 5.18 ERA in four starts against Tampa Bay this season.
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