BOSTON — Chris Sale doesn’t seem to care if each of his starts are low scoring.
He was dominant Saturday with 12 strikeouts over seven innings for his first victory with Boston, Mitch Moreland hit a solo homer and the Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 2-1.
Sale (1-1) allowed one run on three hits with three walks, striking out seven of the last nine batters he faced. He’s given up three runs in 212/3 innings with the Red Sox.
“That’s how you like it, man,” he said. “I like that. I like being in those ones that I can be that guy that can get a ‘W’ in those games. If they’ve all got to be like that, so be it. I look forward to the challenge.”
Boston acquired Sale from the White Sox for four prospects during the offseason.
The Red Sox had lost 5 of 8. The Rays dropped their fourth in five games.
Jake Odorizzi of Tampa Bay left his start with left hamstring tightness after throwing one pitch in the second inning. The Rays used four relievers.
“Outstanding effort by everybody that pitched after (Odorizzi),” Rays Manager Kevin Cash said. “They were asked to do some things that we normally wouldn’t ask of them.”
In each of Sale’s three starts the Red Sox have done little offensively, collecting only three total runs.
But they got just enough Saturday.
“Chris Sale: dominant, strong, any adjective you want to attach to it,” Manager John Farrell said.
“He’s got three power pitches for a lot of swing and miss, and let’s face it, the three starts he’s made for us he’s not had any margin of error.”
Sandy Leon’s broken-bat, bases-loaded groundout pushed across the tiebreaking run in the seventh. Boston loaded the bases on two singles and a walk against Tommy Hunter (0-1).
Matt Barnes worked a hitless eighth despite two walks, and Craig Kimbrel got the final three outs for his fourth save.
Erasmo Ramirez relived Odorizzi and Moreland belted his first pitch deep into the right-field seats, making it 1-0.
“The only mistake was the first pitch,” Ramirez said. “I expected he was going to swing at the first one.”
Longoria’s RBI single tied it in the third before Sale escaped a bases-loaded jam by striking out Derek Norris with a sharp slider in the dirt.
Sale breezed through the first inning, throwing only 11 pitches to retire the side in order, but the strikeouts and some long at-bats added to his 111-pitch total.
NOTES: Odorizzi bent down in apparent pain after the pitch and threw two warmup pitches in front of Cash and a trainer before walking off slowly. “He’ll be on the DL,” Cash said. “He’s fine. We anticipate this will be a short stay.” … There was a moment of reflection before the game, marking the fourth anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings. Two bombs went off near the finish line a little less than an hour after the Red Sox had beaten the Rays.