Tampa Bay’s Mike Zunino, front, celebrates his two-run home run off Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Garrett Richards with Brett Phillips in the second inning Wednesday at St. Petersburg, Fla. Chris O’Meara/Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Austin Meadows, Mike Zunino and Brandon Lowe homered to help the Tampa Bay Rays stop a seven-game losing streak by beating the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox 8-2 on Wednesday night.

Rich Hill (6-2) struggled with his command but limited the Red Sox to one run over five innings. The 41-year old lefty, who threw 58 of 97 pitches for strikes, gave up three hits, five walks and had five strikeouts.

Rays rookie Wander Franco, who hit a three-run homer in his big league debut Tuesday, went 0 for 3 and walked twice.

The umpires had Rays reliever Diego Castillo change his hat before he pitched the ninth after meeting near the mound. All four umpires met with Boston Manager Alex Cora on the field right after the game ended.

There was no immediate announcement why the hat exchange was done. Major League Baseball instructed umpires to begin cracking down on the use of sticky foreign substances by pitchers on Monday.

Xander Bogaerts and Christian Vazquez had RBI singles for the Red Sox, who had their lead over the Rays cut to a half-game.

Boston’s Garrett Richards (4-5) struggled again, allowing five runs, three hits and four walks in 1 2/3 innings. He has given up 15 runs over 11 innings in last three starts.

Zunino connected on his 15th homer, a two-run drive, during a three-run second as the Rays took a 5-1 lead.

Franco displayed his speed when he reached safely on second baseman Kike Hernandez’s error on a routine-looking grounder in the second that allowed Lowe to score. Hernandez bobbled the ball and spiked a throw to first with Franco moving quickly down the line.

Franco drew a two-out walk in the first before Meadows made it 2-1 on his 16th homer.

The 20-year old Franco was briefly checked by a trainer in the first after his helmet came off, hit the ground and then struck under his chin as he dove back to first on a pickoff attempt.

Lowe’s three-run homer off Matt Andriese put the Rays up 8-1 in the seventh.

Red Sox reliever Josh Taylor worked the sixth and extended his scoreless appearance streak to 21 games, covering 17 innings. It’s the longest stretch ever by a Boston left-hander.

NOTES: INF Christian Arroyo (right shin bone bruise) is still sore and was out of the lineup.

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