BOSTON — A few relaxing words from David Ortiz helped get Rubby De La Rosa ready for his first start in nearly three years Saturday night.
De La Rosa pitched seven shutout innings, Brock Holt hit his first career homer and the Boston Red Sox won their sixth straight with a 7-1 victory against the Tampa Bay Rays.
The teams kept it clean a day after having their second benches-clearing scrum in less than a week.
Taking the mound for a tense start after the teams cleared the benches in their last two meetings, De La Rosa heard all he needed from Ortiz.
“David told me whatever happened last night, just focus on pitching,” said De La Rosa, who allowed four hits and struck out eight without issuing a walk in his first start since July 31, 2011, when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Holt and Jackie Bradley Jr. hit two-run homers, and Jonathan Herrera had three singles as the Red Sox continued to rebound from a 10-game losing streak.
There was no carry-over from Friday, when three Red Sox managers and a pitcher were ejected after David Price of the Rays hit Ortiz and Mike Carp.
“No pregame warnings,” Boston Manager John Farrell said. “We met with the umpiring crew before the game, just had a chance to talk about a couple of things. That was it.”
De La Rosa (1-0), recalled earlier in the day from Triple-A Pawtucket, made his first start for the Red Sox.
“He showed four pitches for strikes,” Farrell said. “Given the environment, given what we went through last night, he was outstanding.”
De La Rosa, 25, was acquired in Boston’s salary-dump deal in August 2012 that sent Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers.
James Loney of the Rays, who also came in the deal, remembered De La Rosa’s talent.
“Yeah, he’s always had an electric arm and wants to be out there, a good competitor,” he said. “He’s probably what, mid 20s? Back then he was a good pitcher and you knew he was going to be good.”
Kevin Kiermaier had an inside- the-park homer for the Rays, who have lost five straight. It came when Bradley attempted a leaping grab and the ball caromed off the Green Monster, off his face and rolled away as he was down on the ground.
Rays Manager Joe Maddon was happy the teams didn’t follow Friday’s hard feelings with any nastiness.
“It was really nice to go out there and not be concerned with a bunch of garbage, and just play the game,” he said. “I was pleased with that a lot. I thought it was a well-played game.”
Last Sunday at Tropicana Field, the clubs had a scrum after the Red Sox were yelling from the dugout when Yunel Escobar stole third with the Rays holding a big lead.
Rays starter Jake Odorizzi (2-5) lasted 31/3 innings, giving up five runs and six hits with two wild pitches.
The Red Sox grabbed a 3-0 lead in the third when Holt homered in Boston’s bullpen after Herrera singled. Carp added a sacrifice fly.
Boston added two in the fourth and chased Odorizzi. Herrera dropped down a safety squeeze and was credited with a hit when Grady Sizemore slid in just under the throw, making it 4-0. A.J. Pierzynski added an RBI single.
Bradley two-run homer made it 7-0 in the fifth.
NOTES: Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia was out with a sore right hand. He was hurt on a swing Friday. He had an MRI and the results showed “no further or structural damage.” … To make room for De La Rosa, the Red Sox optioned OF/1B Daniel Nava to Pawtucket. … Third baseman Garin Cecchini will be called up Sunday with pitcher Alex Wilson heading to Pawtucket.