By DOUG ALDEN Associated Press
BOSTON (AP) — Kevin Kiermaier hit an early three-run double and broke a tie with an RBI grounder during a four-run sixth inning that sent the Tampa Bay Rays past the Boston Red Sox 8-4 on Tuesday night.
Yandy Díaz had three hits and an RBI as the Rays evened the three-game series between AL East rivals at one apiece.
The Rays have won four of five since a four-game slide at the end of June.
“We’re taking those baby steps to getting back and locked in,” Kiermaier said. “We’re starting to get our juju back or our swag back — whatever you want to call it. We’re showing up and I feel like our confidence is rising slowly but surely and that’s what you need in this game to succeed.”
Xander Bogaerts and Trevor Story homered for Boston, and J.D. Martinez had two doubles and a single. The Red Sox had won five straight at home before the Rays prevailed in driving rain that started in the seventh and continued until Jason Adam, Tampa Bay’s sixth pitcher, retired Story for the final out in worsening conditions.
The Red Sox were 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position and left 11 on base overall. Boston failed to capitalize in the fifth after Rob Refsnyder led off with a single and Martinez followed with a double that got past right fielder Josh Lowe as he made a diving attempt to catch the ball.
Ryan Thompson (2-2), who took over for starter Jeffrey Springs in the fifth, got out of the jam with the game still tied 3-all, and the Rays didn’t waste their chance the following inning.
Wander Franco drew a leadoff walk and Isaac Paredes singled. Franco scored on a fielder’s choice by Kiermaier, who later scored on a sacrifice fly by Taylor Walls.
Randy Arozarena and René Pinto added RBI singles before the rally ended. Tampa Bay tacked on another run in the seventh on an RBI single by Paredes.
Nick Pivetta (8-6) pitched 5 2/3 innings for Boston and allowed seven runs on eight hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
Springs went four innings for the Rays, permitting three runs and five hits while striking out five. Bogaerts’ two-run shot in the first and a solo homer by Story in the second were Boston’s only runs until Bogaerts hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
Springs had just returned to the team from Florida, where he went to be with his wife and their 5-month-old son, Stetson, who was hospitalized with an undisclosed illness.
Springs, who wrote his son’s name in the dirt on the mound at the start of the game, said the child’s prognosis is improving, but it has been a frightening stretch for the family. Without saying what the illness was, Springs’ voice cracked with emotion a few times as he spoke about his family’s situation after the game.
“They’ve got it under control. They’ve got him on the medicine he needs to be on and stuff and now it’s just kind of a waiting game because it takes a little bit to run its course. Him being so small, they can only give him so much,” Springs said. “It’s definitely getting better.”
Springs said the Rays were allowing him to return to Florida on Thursday.
“They’ve been very supportive,” he said.
Díaz took exception, and then a few steps toward the mound, after a pitch from Pivetta sailed high and inside in the fifth. Boston catcher Christian Vazquez stopped Díaz from getting any closer, and nothing other than a few words were exchanged — although a few players did start to make their way out of the dugout.
Through a translator, Díaz said he thought Pivetta might still have been upset about one of the two early doubles he hit off him, but an outburst by Pivetta apparently wasn’t directed at the Tampa Bay slugger.
“When I turned around and asked him what he was saying, he said it wasn’t towards me but I was already a little bit heated,” Díaz said with a slight smile.
Rays: Optioned LHP Josh Fleming to Triple-A Durham and reinstated Springs from the family medical emergency list. … Tampa Bay also claimed INF Yu Chang off waivers from Pittsburgh and transferred INF Brandon Lowe (lower back) to the 60-day injured list.
Red Sox: RHP Michael Wacha could return to the rotation Friday night against the AL East-leading New York Yankees, manager Alex Cora said. Wacha was scratched from his scheduled start Monday because of an arm issue and was scheduled for a bullpen session Wednesday. … RHP Nathan Eovaldi threw two innings to hitters before the game and appeared to be getting closer to returning, Cora said. … LHP Chris Sale, out since spring training because of a stress fracture in his ribcage, is scheduled to make a rehab start for Triple-A Worcester on Wednesday.
RHP Corey Kluber (3-5, 3.91 ERA) is up for the Rays against RHP Brayan Bello, who is scheduled to make his major league debut for the Red Sox on Wednesday night.