Boston, MA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Boston Red Sox used 7 2/3 terrific innings from Jon Lester and an offensive barrage to gain the early upper hand in the American League Division Series, cruising to a 12-2 Game 1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays at a jam-packed Fenway Park.
Lester (1-0) gave up solo homers to Sean Rodriguez and Ben Zobrist that staked Tampa Bay to an initial 2-0 edge, but yielded just one other hit and three walks before exiting to a rousing ovation with two outs in the eighth.
The left-hander received ample support from his teammates, with the AL East champs shelling Rays starter Matt Moore (0-1) for eight runs -- seven earned -- and eight hits in the 17-game winner's 4 1/3 innings of work.
Every Boston regular collected at least one hit, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia finishing 2-for-4 with three RBI, Shane Victorino driving in two runs on a 3- for-4 day and Jonny Gomes producing a two-run double in the rout.
"We've done that all year long," said Victorino. " It's a testament to what we do every day. We grind out at-bats. We play 27 outs."
Tampa Bay, which prevailed in elimination games in three different cities over the previous five days, will attempt to regroup behind 2012 AL Cy Young winner David Price in Saturday's Game 2. John Lackey will draw the start for Boston.
Moore had held the Red Sox hitless until Dustin Pedroia delivered a leadoff single with his team down 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth. David Ortiz then lofted a fly ball to deep right-center that dropped between outfielders Wil Myers and Desmond Jennings and bounced into the bullpen, putting the tying runs in scoring position with none out.
The Rays unraveled from that point on.
Moore got Mike Napoli to pop up harmlessly, but Gomes mashed a double high off the Green Monster that knotted the score. Two batters later, Stephen Drew beat Moore to the bag on a grounder to first, with Gomes hustling home from second without a throw to send Boston ahead.
"I think it got everybody [fired up], not only our dugout, but the crowd," said Pedroia of Gomes' aggressive play. "It was the turning point in the game."
Will Middlebrooks followed with a double to left that plated Drew for a 4-2 lead, and a passed ball by Tampa catcher Jose Lobaton on Moore's would-be third-out strikeout of Jacoby Ellsbury further extended the inning for Victorino, the ninth batter of the frame who slapped an opposite-field single that scored Middlebrooks with the Red Sox' fifth run.
"Matty was not bad. He was actually pretty good tonight," Rays manager Joe Maddon said of Moore. "It was just an unfortunate inning. With a more normal inning, he could have pitched deep into the game. We just kind of messed it up in that inning. We're normally not the team that makes those kind of mistakes. We did tonight."
Moore's problems continued in the fifth. Napoli drilled a double with one out in front of an intentional walk to Gomes and Saltalamacchia's double against the Monster that knocked in both runners. An Ellsbury single off Wesley Wright later in the inning increased the margin to 8-2.
That was more than enough for Lester. He allowed a pair of baserunners after Zobrist started the fourth with a homer just inside the foul pole in left that put the Rays up 2-0, then set down 11 consecutive hitters until walking James Loney to open the eighth.
Boston tagged reliever Jamey Wright for four runs in the eighth to turn the game into a laugher. Victorino singled in Ellsbury from second for the first run, and the Red Sox soon loaded the bases before Napoli drew a walk that made the score 10-2. A double-play grounder off the bat of Gomes and a Saltalamacchia single accounted for the final two runs.
Lester was overpowering early on, fanning the first four Tampa hitters and beginning the game with five straight outs until Rodriguez launched a full- count fastball over the high wall in left in the second inning. The blast came immediately after Lester had a close pitch called a ball and became visibly frustrated.
"He just had a really good fastball," said Maddon. "He came out there on 97 [mph]. I was hoping that would be pretty much adrenaline wear[ing] off and [he would] become more the pedestrian version, but that never happened."
Moore had gone 10-1 with a 2.74 ERA in 16 regular-season starts on the road, including a two-hit shutout at Fenway Park on July 22. The Rays posted a 14-2 record in those games ... Lester, who also pitched Game 1 of both the 2008 and '09 ALDS, joined Pedro Martinez (1998, 1999, 2003) as the only Red Sox hurlers to start a playoff opener in three straight postseason appearances by the team. He improved to 2-1 with a 1.63 ERA in three career ALDS assignments ... Tampa Bay has now scored first in each of its last 13 games ... Ortiz's double was his 19th in postseason play, which matches former teammate Manny Ramirez for fourth place on MLB's all-time list ... Wright, an 18-year veteran, pitched in his first playoff game after 658 regular-season appearances ... Zobrist's homer extended his postseason hitting streak to nine games, tied with B.J. Upton for the longest in Rays' history.