BOSTON — Never one to take a lot of time between pitches, John Lackey had extra motivation to throw quickly and get out of the biting chill at Fenway Park.
Lackey pitched eight solid innings with temperatures in the low 40s as the Boston Red Sox beat the slumping Tampa Bay Rays 7-4 on Tuesday night.
“I try to work fast,” Lackey said. “Especially when it’s cold, I’m trying to get guys in the dugout. It wasn’t a whole lot of fun out there on the field today.”
Lackey’s teammates showed their appreciation with a five-run rally in the sixth as the Red Sox opened a three-game series with a win over their AL East rivals.
Shane Victorino drove in his first two runs of the season while going 4 for 4, hiking his batting average from .133 to .316. Victorino was playing in his fourth game after missing the first 22 with a hamstring injury. He singled in his first two at-bats, hit a sacrifice fly in the fifth and added an RBI double in the sixth.
“We knew it was going to take a couple of games for him to get his feet on the ground,” Boston Manager John Farrell said. “He does give us a completely different dynamic in that 2-hole. When we can set the table for that middle of the order, we’ve got a chance to score some runs.”
Lackey (4-2) scattered six hits and allowed two runs, striking out five and walking one. After the Rays scored twice in the ninth, Koji Uehara came in and struck out Ben Zobrist on three pitches for his sixth save.
Jackie Bradley Jr. had a pair of doubles and two RBIs as the Red Sox got 13 hits and won for the third time in four games. Xander Bogaerts was the only Boston starter without a hit.
“It was good to see the evenness throughout the at-bats 1 through 9,” Farrell said.
The Rays lost for the seventh time in eight road games and are 4-9 away from home.
Wil Myers had two hits and scored a run for the Rays. James Loney hit two doubles and joined Myers as the only Tampa Bay players with more than one hit. Both scored in the ninth on a throwing error by Bogaerts at shortstop.
The Rays began the second leg of a 10-game road trip, which they started 1-3 in Chicago. Erik Bedard held Boston to one run through five innings, but the bullpen could not stop the Red Sox in the sixth.
Tampa Bay Manager Joe Maddon said both starters had good command, but it was a tough night for relievers to sit through the frigid conditions and then have to pitch.
“Bedard was good. I thought Lackey’s command was good tonight,” Maddon said. “It’s hard. It’s hard for both sides. The game was not meant to be played in this kind of weather. But you’ve got to fight through it.”
Brandon Gomes (1-1) started the sixth inning and immediately walked Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes. Juan Carlos Oviedo took over with one out and fared no better. A.J. Pierzynski hit an RBI single, then Will Middlebrooks and Bradley hit back-to-back doubles.
Bradley’s shot to center bounced off the wall in one of the deepest parts of Fenway Park, scoring Pierzynski and Middlebrooks easily. Bradley went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Victorino’s ground-rule double.
The Red Sox scored three more on three hits off Oviedo. Boston scored five times in the inning and sent nine batters to the plate.
“That’s something that we normally don’t do,” Maddon said. “We’re normally pretty good at minimizing damage. We’ve got to do a better job of that.”
Bedard got his third no-decision in four starts. He allowed four hits, striking out four and walking three.
Middlebrooks walked to start the fifth and went to third when Bradley doubled to center. The Rays nearly got out of it when Dustin Pedroia lined out to third baseman Evan Longoria, who made a dive for the bag. Middlebrooks was diving in the other direction and barely beat the tag, then scored on Victorino’s fly to center to put Boston up 1-0.
The Rays got the run back in the sixth when Desmond Jennings doubled with one out and scored on a sacrifice fly by Longoria.
Ryan Hanigan’s single in the seventh drove in Myers, who led off the inning with a double that was just a few feet left of being a homer to center.
NOTES: Napoli has reached base in 24 of 25 games this season. â¦ It was the 28th anniversary of Roger Clemens’ first 20-strikeout game for Boston, when he broke the major league record for a nine-inning game against Seattle. â¦ Red Sox DH David Ortiz played in his 1,994th game. â¦ Tampa Bay played its 1,000th game since shortening the team’s name to Rays in 2008.