Published September 18, 2017
BOSTON (AP) -- Chris Sale struck out eight over six innings and Dustin Pedroia hit a two-run homer in the first to get Boston's offense off to a fast start, carrying the Red Sox to a 9-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night.
It was the fourth consecutive win for the AL East-leading Red Sox, who remained 4 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Yankees.
Andrew Benintendi had three hits and three RBIs and Mitch Moreland drove in three for Boston.
Tampa Bay lost its third in a row, and has allowed nine runs or more in each game. The Rays entered the day 4 1/2 games behind the AL's second wild-card spot.
Danny Espinosa had three singles for the Rays.
Sale (16-7) allowed six singles, walked two and increased his major-league leading strikeout total to 278. He lowered his ERA to 2.76.
Carson Smith, Heath Hembree and Blaine Boyer each worked an inning of relief.
Matt Andriese (5-3) got just five outs, giving up eight runs -- six earned -- and seven hits for the Rays.
For the second straight night, the Red Sox took control early, putting this one away by scoring three in the first and five in the second.
Boston won the series opener on Friday, 9-3.
Pedroia homered into the first row of Green Monster seats after Eduardo Nunez singled, making it 2-0. Moreland's groundout scored the other run.
In the second, Benintendi had a two-run double off the Monster, lefty hitter Moreland a two-run single after Mookie Betts, a right-handed batter, was intentionally walked by righty Andriese, and the fifth run scored on third baseman Evan Longoria's throwing error.
Rays: OF Steven Sousa Jr. was out after leaving Friday's game with a bruised left knee he sustained running into a side wall along the right-field line.
Red Sox: INF Nunez limped out of the game after beating out an infield hit with a bruised right knee. He returned to the lineup after missing Friday's game with minor back spasms, then singled in his first at-bat, stole second but got up gingerly after a headfirst slide. . LHP David Price (left elbow inflammation) threw two simulated innings. "A good step obviously in his progression to game activity," manager John Farrell said.
Sale had struck out 12 or more each of the four times he faced the Rays this season. No pitcher had fanned 12 or more in five straight against a team in the last 100 years.
Bob Gibson, Nolan Ryan, Sam McDowell, and Randy Johnson (twice) are the only others to do it four straight against a team.
Pedroia's first career homer came 11 years ago, also going over the Monster.
Rays: RHP Alex Cobb (10-9, 3.64 ERA) is set to start the series finale Sunday. The Boston-born righty, a big Red Sox fan until he signed with the Rays in 2006, is 4-1 with a 3.34 ERA in his career in Fenway Park.
Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (9-16, 4.67) is in line to start. He's 1-2 in his last three with a 6.48 ERA.