St. Petersburg, FL – Alfredo Aceves turned in six strong innings in an emergency start to help the Boston Red Sox record a 2-1 decision over the Tampa Bay Rays in the rubber match of a three-game series from Tropicana Field.
Boston had a three-game win streak snapped with Tuesday's 8-3 loss to the Rays, but bounced back behind Aceves' effort and a two-run homer by Daniel Nava that accounted for the deciding runs.
Pressed into duty after originally-scheduled starter Franklin Morales was forced to throw the final two innings of Monday's 14-inning victory, Aceves (3-1) held the Rays to one run on four hits before four Boston relievers protected the lead with a combined three scoreless frames. Andrew Bailey fanned two in the ninth to notch his seventh save of the season.
"He was just great tonight," Boston catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said of Aceves. "Fastball was sharp, curveball was sharp. We were able to use everything for strikes."
Tampa Bay managed just six hits on the night, with Evan Longoria's solo homer in the sixth inning providing the lone scoring in the Rays' seventh loss in nine meetings with their AL East rivals this season.
Chris Archer (1-2) struck out seven batters in four innings of work, but threw 103 pitches over that period and walked four in addition to serving up Nava's homer.
"I think I was trying to do a little too much," Archer admitted."I was falling behind 2-0 and they forced me to throw strikes and work the count."
Tampa Bay's offense swatted eight homers and put up 16 runs over the first two games of the series, but was held squarely in check by Aceves despite the right-hander having to work his way out of trouble on several occasions.
He walked the bases loaded in the second inning without any damage, then was staked to a 2-0 lead when Jacoby Ellsbury singled in the top of the third and Nava ended a 10-pitch battle with Archer by lacing a line drive over the right-field wall.
The Rays put the first two men on in the bottom of the third on a walk to Matt Joyce and a Ben Zobrist single, but Aceves again escaped harm after Stephen Drew and Dustin Pedroia turned a nifty 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Tampa Bay squandered another opportunity in the fifth, when Yunel Escobar reached on a single but was thrown out by Saltalamacchia attempting to take second on a pitch in the dirt. Joyce doubled with two out in the ensuing at- bat.
Longoria finally put the Rays on the board with his third homer of the series, a blast to straightaway center field with one out in the bottom of the sixth.
Tampa Bay later put the tying run aboard when Kelly Johnson doubled off Craig Breslow with two outs in the eighth, but Koji Uehara came on to fan Longoria and end the threat.
The Rays again got a man to second against Bailey in the ninth, with James Loney delivering a leadoff single and pinch-runner Sam Fuld stealing a base with the team down to its final out. Jose Lobaton struck out swinging, however, to leave Tampa Bay 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position for the game.
Ellsbury finished 1-for-3 with two stolen bases and extended his hitting streak to 11 games, during which he's batting .440 (22-for-50) with 12 runs scored ... The Rays' nine homers for the series tied a franchise record for most in a three-game set, set at Baltimore from April 16-18 ... Tampa Bay has gone 12-for-85 (.141) with runners in scoring position in its nine games against Boston ... Zobrist's single lengthened his hitting streak to nine games ... Boston's Mike Napoli recorded his first stolen base since July 13 of last season in the fifth inning.