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Slumping Mikie Mahtook lifts Tampa Bay Rays over Boston Red Sox

By
Corey Long, The Sports Xchange
Tampa Bay Rays' Evan Longoria. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Tampa Bay Rays' Evan Longoria. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Mikie Mahtook didn't want to know why he was being mentioned in the same sentence with Luke Scott but thankfully he won't have to worry about it anymore.

The Rays left fielder snapped an 0-for-34 slump with an RBI double in the bottom of the seventh inning that lifted the Tampa Bay Rays to a 2-1 win against the Boston Red Sox on Thursday at Tropicana Field.

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Mahtook, whose batting average slumped to .130, was approaching Scott's 0-for-41 mark as the worst slump in Rays' history.

However, he hit a short flare to left-center field that scored Steven Souza Jr. from first base that gave the Rays the game-winning run.

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Tampa Bay (54-72) won the final two games to earn a split of the four-game series.

"You go in every day expecting to get hits and expecting to do well," Mahtook said. "Day after day, it just kind of gets on you. Finally to break through like that, was nice."

Mahtook, however, might have clinched the game with his defense. Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts hit a drive down the left-field line with two outs in the eighth inning and Mahtook fielded the ball on the hop and fired in a throw to second base that caught Betts trying to get a double.

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"Obviously the hit gave us the lead and the throw helped us preserve it," Mahtook said. "Mookie's a good runner and the ball just caromed perfectly to me and I was able to make a good throw."

Rays starter Jake Odorizzi improved to 9-5 and 6-0 since the All-Star break with another strong outing.

Tampa Bay reliever Tyler Sturdevant struck out designated hitter Hanley Ramirez and center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. in the top of the ninth and Enny Romero came in to strike out pinch hitter David Ortiz to record the save.

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"We needed a lot of things to come together for us to get that win and it seemed like they all did today," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We knew coming in our bullpen was short and we needed [Odorizzi] to go deep in the ballgame and he did."

Odorizzi gave up one run on five hits in seven innings.

"To tell you the truth, I didn't even know we had half our whole bullpen down," Odorizzi said. "So I'm just going out there and doing the best I can. Simple as that."

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Boston (71-56) had a chance to get to Odorizzi in the top of the sixth inning, loading the bases with no outs. Betts' sacrifice fly to left scored catcher Bryan Holaday. Odorizzi walked Ramirez to load the bases again with one out but Bradley grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.

"We had a big opportunity in the sixth inning," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Bases-loaded two different times with less than two outs and we got one run out of it. Bottom line is when we as a team and an offensive unit use the whole field that's when we have been our most effective and that has been absent with the run that we are on here."

The Rays tied the game quickly off Red Sox starter Drew Pomeranz. Third baseman Evan Longoria reached base on a one-out double and first baseman Brad Miller followed with an RBI single that chased Pomeranz.

"They hit a couple balls hard, hit a couple balls where we weren't," Pomeranz said. "Good places by them. That's that."

Pomeranz had 11 strikeouts in six-plus innings but fell to 10-10 on the year.

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GAME NOTES: Red Sox OF Andrew Benintendi was placed on the 15-day disabled list after suffering a left knee sprain in the seventh inning of Wednesday's game. Manager John Farrell said he is hopeful that Benintendi can return before the end of the season but the outfielder is scheduled to have an MRI exam to determine the severity. ... Rays INF Tim Beckham missed his second consecutive game with a sore left hamstring. ... The Red Sox recalled INF Marco Hernandez from Triple-A Pawtucket. ... Rays INF Richie Shaffer was optioned to Triple-A Durham and RHP Tyler Sturdevant was recalled in a corresponding move. ... Red Sox LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (hamstring) threw a bullpen session Thursday and is expected to start Sunday against the Royals.

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