BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox rode their American League Cy Young Award and MVP candidates to a win on Monday night at Fenway Park.
Rick Porcello, improving to 13-0 in 14 home starts, pitched seven solid innings for his major league-leading 18th victory and Mookie Betts hit his 30th homer, doubled in a run and scored twice to power Boston to a 9-4 rout of the last-place Tampa Bay Rays.
The win kept the Red Sox two games behind the first-place Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East.
Porcello, in the first year of a five-year, $82.5 million contract extension, became the first Red Sox pitcher in 70 years and the fifth pitcher in the modern era to accomplish the feat at home. He is 18-3 and has lost once since May 17.
Porcello yielded six hits and fanned seven in his seventh straight quality start, walking none for the third time in his last four starts and the eighth time this season.
Betts, who has 96 RBIs and 102 runs scored, homered off losing starter Matt Andriese (6-6) leading off the second inning and chased Andriese with his RBI double in the fifth. He joins Ted Williams (twice) and Tony Conigliaro as the only Red Sox players with a 30-homer season before age 24 and heard chants of “M-V-P” late in the game.
Brock Holt, again playing second base with Dustin Pedroia out attending a family funeral, had three hits and two RBIs, Chris Young lined a two-run double, Travis Shaw (one RBI) collected three hits, Sandy Leon had two hits, including a two-run single, and Hanley Ramirez added two hits and a walk in a 14-hit attack.
Andriese, who started the season 6-0, hasn’t won since June 15 and lost this rematch with Porcello — the two pitching against each other, both with a no decision, last week at Tampa Bay.
Andriese is 0-6 with a 5.47 ERA in his last 14 appearances, seven of them starts.
Evan Longoria had two sacrifice flies for the Rays.
Clay Buchholz (one run) and Fernando Abad worked an inning apiece for Boston.
The Red Sox jumped to a 2-0 lead when Betts led off the second inning with his home run, Ramirez doubled, and the Red Sox wound up with the bases loaded and two outs — after Ramirez was thrown out at the plate on an infield grounder.
Holt drilled an RBI single on a 3-2 pitch, scoring Young, but Leon was gunned down at the plate by left fielder Corey Dickerson.
The Rays came right back to tie it in the third on four straight singles and a tying sacrifice fly by Longoria.
Andriese worked a perfect third before Ramirez opened the fourth with a single and rode to third on Shaw’s ground-rule double. Young ripped a double past Longoria for two runs — and he scored on Holt’s long double.
Once again, the Rays answered and might have had more had it not been for an outstanding play by Xander Bogaerts. Dickerson’s second hit, a double, led the inning off and he took third on a groundout. Forsythe, bidding for his third hit, bounced one up the middle — Bogaerts got to it, spun and threw him out.
He was called safe by Dana DeMuth, the Red Sox challenged and won, with the run making it 5-3 as Porcello failed for the second straight time to put up a zero after the Sox scored.
Boston’s David Ortiz opened the bottom half with a double — his 50th home extra base hit this season — and scored on Betts’ double to KO Andriese. Shaw’s infield hit wound up making it 7-3.