ST. PETERSBURG -- Tampa Bay's immaculate homestand continued Saturday night with a 5-1 win over Boston at Tropicana Field.:: Players' Weekend presented by Valspar Stain ::While collecting their seventh consecutive win, the Rays moved to 6-0 on the current homestand and will go for a three-game sweep against the American
ST. PETERSBURG -- Tampa Bay's immaculate homestand continued Saturday night with a 5-1 win over Boston at Tropicana Field.
:: Players' Weekend presented by Valspar Stain ::
While collecting their seventh consecutive win, the Rays moved to 6-0 on the current homestand and will go for a three-game sweep against the American League East leaders on Sunday.
With Saturday's victory, Tampa Bay handed the Red Sox their first series loss since June 29-July 1 at Yankee Stadium. Boston was 10-0-4 in its 14 series since.
• Shop Rays Players' Weekend gear
Tampa Bay's pitching continued to thrive. The Rays have pitched to a Major League-best 2.06 ERA in 15 games since Aug. 10, and they have allowed one or no runs in eight of those games.
"Any time you go up against [the Red Sox], that lineup, and you limit them offensively, you're doing a lot of things correctly," Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
Kevin Kiermaier (Outlaw) led the go-ahead charge when he tripled to right-center field off Rick Porcello (Veintidos) to open the sixth. Porcello then hit Willy Adames (The Kid) with a pitch, and Red Sox manager Alex Cora brought in Ryan Brasier (Brasier) to pitch to Brandon Lowe (Lowe).
Brasier unleashed a wild pitch that allowed Kiermaier to score, putting the Rays up, 2-1. Lowe then walked before Michael Perez (Mykii) laid down a sacrifice bunt to put runners at second and third for Joey Wendle (Mendle), who came through with sacrifice fly to give Tampa Bay some breathing room.
Kiermaier's triple "was a huge hit," Cash said. "Maybe the biggest one of the night. Leadoff triples can really set the tone. It makes the other pitcher, or pitchers, very selective in their approach in what they're trying to do. We drew some good walks in there. We really made them throw a lot of pitches, and in situations where we had guys in scoring position and we ultimately capitalized."
Tommy Pham (Phamtastic) homered on the first pitch he saw from Brandon Workman (Work) with one out in the seventh. The 423-foot blast, per Statcast™, cleared the wall in center field, giving Pham his 15th homer of the season and his first since coming to the Rays in a July 31 trade with the Cardinals.
"Truthfully, I didn't think I had enough power to hit a home run," said Pham, who returned to the lineup after dislocating his right ring finger Tuesday night. "Because my grip strength isn't quite there, but I had enough."
Ji-Man Choi (Ji) added an RBI triple off Tyler Thornburg (Thorn) in the eighth to push the lead to 5-1.
The Rays "are playing good baseball," Cora said. "They've been playing great. They've been pitching. ... It's a different ballclub compared to early in the season. … It's a different type of team. More athletes, fast guys. They put the ball in play. They're very uncomfortable [to play] right now."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
With the score tied at 1, Ryan Yarbrough (Yarbitron) walked the leadoff batter, Andrew Benintendi (Benny) to start the sixth, prompting Cash to bring in Ryne Stanek (Stanny), and he immediately fell behind 3-0 to Steve Pearce (Late Lightning), who then flied out for the first out. Stanek then picked off Benintendi before striking out J.D. Martinez (Flaco) swinging to end the inning. The Rays then scored twice in the sixth to take a 3-1 lead.
"Yeah, [the pickoff] was kind of unexpected," said Stanek, who picked up the second win of his career. "I'm not known for picking people off. I think that he's the first guy I've picked off since college. That was a big shift in momentum, especially for me in that inning, because I was in an even count with J.D. and in a position where you can't give up a run."
Kiermaier is batting .325/.341/.475 (13-for-40) in his past 11 games (10 starts), compared to .087 (4-for-46) in his 12 games prior to that.
HE SAID IT
"Tommy's going to do a lot of big things for us. Good to get him back on the field." -- Cash
Blake Snell will start Sunday afternoon when the Rays aim to sweep the Red Sox in a 1:10 p.m. ET contest at Tropicana Field. He is 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA in four starts since returning from the 10-day DL. Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will start for the Red Sox.
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays since 2004.