ST. PETERSBURG (Reuters) - Ben Zobrist slugged a grand slam homer in the second inning to launch the Tampa Bay Rays to a 9-6 victory over division rivals Boston Friday.
Zobrist followed his second-inning blast with his fifth RBI of the game in the third where Tampa Bay (50-41) chased losing Boston starter Andrew Miller and took a 7-2 lead over the Red Sox (55-36). Rays first baseman Casey Kotchman added a two-run homer in the sixth to give the home side a 9-3 advantage and Tampa Bay's bullpen held off a late Boston rally.
Slugger David Ortiz was in the lineup for the Red Sox and went 0-for-4 after earlier appealing a four-game suspension for his role in a bench-clearing brawl with Baltimore last week.
The Red Sox scored twice in the seventh and once in the eighth but the Rays preserved the win for starter David Price (9-7), who tossed six innings and allowed three runs. "I threw all right. I threw 121 pitches in six innings. I feel like if Joe is going to give me 121 pitches, I can do a lot more than just go six," Price told reporters. "But our offense did a great job." In his previous outing on July 9, Price had allowed Derek Jeter's 3,000th career hit on a homer but he rebounded to strike out seven Boston batters.
Kyle Farnsworth pitched the final 1 1/3 innings for his 18th save of the season and the Rays now trail the Red Sox by five games in the AL East. "I talked to the team about the 'one game at a time' mantra," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "You don't say we need to win five out of seven or at least four out of seven. Go play tonight. Play tonight, work the process." Boston had a six-game win streak snapped despite home runs from Darnell McDonald, Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Marco Scutaro. Pedroia finished 3-for-4 on the night.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)