BOSTON — A little infusion of youth and a solid start by Jon Lester kept the Boston Red Sox rolling along.
Lester pitched seven shutout innings and Brock Holt drove in two runs with one of his major league record-tying four doubles to lift the Red Sox to their seventh straight win, completing a three-game sweep over the reeling Tampa Bay Rays with a 4-0 victory Sunday.
Boston’s streak follows a 10-game skid, its longest in 20 years. That matches a major league record for consecutive wins after a double-digit losing stretch, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau. The 1989 Detroit Tigers did it after losing 12 in a row, and the 1942 Pittsburgh Pirates also did it after dropping 10 straight.
Rookies Garin Cecchini and Alex Hassan collected their first major league hits to go along with fellow rookie Holt’s big day.
“It’s great. It kind of makes you reminisce of all the good firsts and just how excited they’ll be,” Lester said. “That’s the cool part about this game, to see these guys come up and doing this stuff to help out the team.”
Holt tied a major league record for doubles one day after he hit his first major league homer in Saturday night’s win. Cecchini added an RBI double.
“We’re tapping into organization depth and guys are ready to contribute,” Boston Manager John Farrell said. “It is a special day. I don’t know the last time two Red Sox players have gotten their first major league hits in (the same) game.”
Evan Longoria had a pair of singles for the Rays, who dropped their season-high sixth straight. Tampa Bay has the AL’s worst record at 23-34.
Holt has sparked Boston’s offense since moving into the leadoff spot, which had been a weakness after Jacoby Ellsbury left via free agency during the offseason, signing with the New York Yankees.
“It’s a fun day,” Holt said. “Anytime you can go out and do something like that, I had a little bit of luck on my side, too.”
Lester (6-6) allowed four hits while striking out 12 and walking one. It was the left-hander’s 19th career double-digit strikeout game. He struck out a career-best 15 against the Oakland Athletics on May 3.
The Rays looked punchless for the third straight game.
“It’s been kind of ongoing for a little while now,” Tampa Bay second baseman Logan Forsythe said. “A team doesn’t stay stagnant for that long. We’re going to get hot, we’re going to get going soon. It’s just a matter of time. We’re putting the work in. Now we just wait and see when it happens, and when it happens, just roll with it.”
Tampa Bay was held to three runs in the series and has scored two or fewer runs in nine of its last 14 games, losing eight of those.
“I really believe that run’s there,” Rays Manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s really pretty much rooted in one component of our game – we’re just not a consistent offensive team right now.”
Edward Mujica and Koji Uehara each pitched an inning to complete the five-hit shutout.
For the second straight day, the clubs were cordial to each other on the field after three Boston managers and a pitcher were ejected in Friday’s game.
The Red Sox broke ahead 3-0 in the fourth against Erik Bedard (2-4). Hassan singled to center for his first hit after Jonny Gomes singled leading off. Jackie Bradley Jr. then walked before Jonathan Herrera hit a sacrifice fly. Holt followed with his two-run double.
Bedard lasted 42/3 innings, allowing three runs and five hits, walking four and striking out four.
NOTES: Victor Martinez was the most recent player to get four doubles in a game, on June 1, 2010, while with the Red Sox. … The last pair of Red Sox rookies to get their first major league hits in the same game were Steve Dillard and Andy Merchant on Sept. 28, 1975. … Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia was back in the lineup after missing Saturday’s game because of a sore right hand, but his day was cut short when he was ejected after the third inning by home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn. … Tampa Bay placed outfielder Wil Myers on the 15-day DL before the game and recalled first baseman/outfielder Jerry Sands from Triple-A Durham. Sands went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. … Rays shortstop Yunel Escobar was out of the starting lineup for the second straight game because of a tight left quad, but he pinch hit in the seventh and flied to center. … It was Lester’s 233rd career start, moving him into fifth on the club’s all-time list. … Cecchini was sent back to Triple-A Pawtucket after the game to make room for shortstop Stephen Drew, who will be called up from Pawtucket. Daniel Nava also will be promoted to replace Mike Carp, who is going to the disabled list because of a fractured foot.