By DICK SCANLON Associated Press
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays tied Major League Baseball’s post-1900 record for 13 consecutive wins at a season’s start, rallying to beat the Boston Red Sox 9-3 Thursday behind a seven-run fifth inning that Harold Ramirez began and capped with doubles.
Tampa Bay matched the 13-0 start of the 1982 Atlanta Braves and 1987 Milwaukee Brewers. The only longer opening streak was a 20-0 start by the 1884 St. Louis Maroons of the Union Association. The Rays have won all but two of the games by four or more runs and have outscored opponents 101-30 with the most runs in the big leagues and the fewest allowed.
Playing before a crowd of 21,175, the largest at Tropicana Field since opening day, the Rays set a team record for wins at any point in a season by topping a 12-game run in June 2004.
Boston, held to four hits, has lost 13 consecutive games at the Trop.
Rays starter Jeffrey Springs left two pitches into the fourth inning with what the team said was ulnar neuritis, inflammation of the ulnar nerve that causes numbness or weakness. He was relieved after throwing a 79.8 mph changeup and a 83.5 mph to Justin Turner, then looking at his hand and elbow.
Tampa Bay trailed 3-1 in the fifth. Ramirez started the big rally with a double off Corey Kluber (0-3) and broke open the game with a three-run double against Richard Bleier.
Francisco Mejía cut the deficit with a run-scoring single and Brandon Lowe greeted Bleier, the only left-hander in Boston’s bullpen, with a tying RBI single.
Randy Arozarena singled for a 4-3 lead, Wander Franco was hit by a pitch and Manuel Margot dropped down a run-scoring bunt single. Ramirez then lined a double into the left-field corner for an 8-3 advantage.
Lowe added a seventh-inning home run off Kutter Crawford, his fifth this season. Yandy Díaz tied the score 1-1 in the first with his fourth this season for the Rays, who lead the major leagues with 32.
Kevin Kelly (1-0), a 25-year-old right-hander who debuted April 1, pitched 2 2/3 innings for the win.
Braden Bristo, a 28-year-old right-hander, pitched three hitless innings with four strikeouts and a walk in his major league debut after seven seasons in the New York Yankees minor league system.
Rob Refsnyder homered in the first, the first run off Springs in three starts this season.
Kiké Hernández hit into a run-scoring groundout in the fourth, an inning that included Triston Casas’s 14-pitch walk against Garret Cleavinger. Justin Turner had an RBI single in the fifth on a soft fly to center that dropped just in front of center fielder Justin Lowe, who tried for a diving catch.
Red Sox: RHP Zack Kelly was placed on the 15-day IL after leaving Wednesday night’s game with an elbow injury, and RHP Kutter Crawford was recalled from Triple-A Worcester.
Rays: RHP Taj Bradley, who won his major league debut on Wednesday, was optioned to Triple-A Durham. … Bristo’s contract was selected from Durham and RHP Shane Baz (Tommy John surgery) was transfered to the 60-day IL.
Red Sox: RHP Tanner Houck (2-0) starts Friday’s homerstand opener against Los Angeles Angels and LHP Patrick Sandoval (1-0).
Rays: RHP Drew Rasmussen (2-0) starts Friday’s series opener at Toronto, which goes with RHP José Berríos (0-2).
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