ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Mookie Betts hit his major league-leading 16th homer, Chris Sale struck out nine in 7 2/3 innings and the Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2 on Tuesday night.
Willy Adames made his big league debut and hit a solo home run off Sale in his second at-bat. The 22-year-old shortstop went 1 for 4 with three strikeouts. He was acquired from Detroit as part of a three-team trade that sent Rays ace — and current Sale teammate — David Price to the Tigers on July 31, 2014.
Sale (5-1) gave up four hits and walked two. He has allowed three runs or fewer in his first 11 starts, the longest stretch by a Boston pitcher to open a season since Pedro Martinez’s 12 in 2001.
Joe Kelly finished the eighth, and Craig Kimbrel got into a bases-loaded jam before getting his 14th save in 16 chances when Mallex Smith grounded into a game-ending forceout on his 32nd pitch of the ninth. Jesus Sucre led off with a single, pinch-hitter Brad Miller doubled with two outs and Rob Refsynder walked.
Betts hit a go-ahead, three-run drive in the third off Jake Faria (3-3), who left two batters later because of a strained left oblique. Faria was replaced with a 1-2 count on Hanley Ramirez by Austin Pruitt, who gave up one run in 5 1/3 innings.
Two hitters following Faria’s departure, Wilson Ramos was taken out due to a bruised left hand after Pruitt’s 0-2 pitch to Xander Bogaerts bounced and struck the catcher.
Faria allowed three runs and three hits in 2 2/3 innings.
Daniel Robertson’s sacrifice fly pulled Tampa Bay to 3-2 in the fifth, and Rafael Devers hit a solo homer in the sixth.
The announced attendance was 10,642, below the Rays’ AL-low home average of 14,711. Miami is last in the majors at 10,603.
Red Sox: Asked whether 2B Dustin Pedroia (left knee surgery) could return Friday against Atlanta, manager Alex Cora said “it depends on how he reacts but he’s getting close.”
Pedroia is on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket. … RHP Hector Velazquez (lower back strain) could be back later this week.
Rays: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (right elbow surgery) could make his final rehab start Wednesday night for Triple-A Durham.
Betts has scored a major-league best 49 runs. He has 36 extra-base hits, including six over his last four games.
Adames took the roster spot of 2B Joey Wendle, who is on paternity leave for the birth of his son. … SS Adeiny Hechavarria (strained right hamstring) has not resumed on-field work.
Price (4-4), coming off a complete game victory over Baltimore, goes against Rays RHP Chris Archer (3-3) on Wednesday night. “There will be a little bit of banter, but it’s all friendly,” Archer said.
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