BOSTON — David Price got plenty of support when Tampa Bay hit five homers Tuesday night. The way he was pitching, he didn’t need much of it.
Price allowed two hits over six innings and the Rays beat the Boston Red Sox 14-5 to move 1 1/2 games behind the New York Yankees in the AL East.
“I get asked about it every now and then. That’s about all the thinking I do about” the Cy Young award, Price said. “I’m set on bigger goals than that. We’ve got the World Series on our minds right now, so that’s what we’re playing for.”
Price (17-6) gave up two runs, one earned, lowered his ERA to 2.87 and left with a 14-2 lead. CC Sabathia, another Cy Young candidate, had a rough outing Tuesday in the Baltimore Orioles’ 6-2 victory against the Yankees. He allowed six runs in 61/3 innings and fell to 19-6 with a 3.14 ERA.
“Any win right now is huge,” Price said. “I didn’t even know we had lost three in a row. Every game from here on out is going to have the same amount of emphasis on it.”
Price gave up two runs before retiring a batter but allowed just two hits by Victor Martinez. Boston led 2-0 until Ben Zobrist’s two-run homer in the third off Daisuke Matsuzaka (9-5).
The Rays added two homers in the fifth, a two-run shot by Jason Bartlett and a three-run drive by Evan Longoria, then got back-to-back homers in the sixth from Dan Johnson and B.J. Upton. Boston had not allowed a homer in its previous six games.
“When you win the way we did, it makes it a little bit more comforting in this building,” Longoria said. “The lead is never comfortable, even when you’re up eight or nine. To be up where we were late in the game, it’s a good feeling.”
Carl Crawford went 4 for 4 in just five innings, including doubles in his first three at-bats. He has 12 hits in his last 19 at-bats. He left for a pinch hitter in the seventh as both teams made numerous lineup changes. Crawford is hitting .350 in 25 games since moving into the third spot in Tampa Bay’s lineup.
“In the two-hole, he gets less opportunities,” Manager Joe Maddon said. “putting him (No.) 3 with two guys with high on-base percentage in front of him, potentially to get on base, that increases his potential to drive in runs.”
The Red Sox were hoping to sweep the three-game series, which ends tonight. That would have put them 41/2 games behind the Rays for the wild-card berth. Instead, they are 71/2 back and Manager Terry Francona abandoned his plan to use Clay Buchholz on three days’ rest if the Red Sox had won Tuesday. Instead, Tim Wakefield will start.
“I knew very well that this was a critical game,” Matsuzaka said, “so to allow what happened to happen so early in the game, I can really only apologize to my teammates and to the fans.”
Boston went ahead when Marco Scutaro reached on an error by first baseman Carlos Pena, Darnell McDonald walked and Martinez doubled them home. The only other hit off Price was a single by Martinez in the third.
After tying the game, the Rays scored four runs in the fourth, six in the fifth and two in the sixth.
Matsuzaka walked the first two batters in the fourth then threw late to third when he fielded Upton’s sacrifice bunt, loading the bases. He walked Bartlett, forcing in the go-ahead run. After John Jaso struck out, Zobrist singled in a run and Crawford doubled home two.
“Lack of command caught up with him and caught up in a hurry,” Francona said.