Chris Sale and the Boston Red Sox shut down the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
BOSTON -- Chris Sale snapped back into form with six scoreless innings and eight strikeouts, Andrew Benintendi and Mitch Moreland drove in three runs apiece and the Boston Red Sox crushed the Tampa Bay Rays 9-0 on Saturday night at Fenway Park.
Sale (16-7) was 1-3 with a 5.49 ERA in his last four starts coming in, but bounced back nicely as he allowed six hits and a walk en route to re-claiming the team lead in victories.
Dustin Pedroia smacked a two-run homer, his seventh of the year, as the Red Sox won their fourth straight game after a 9-3 rout of the Rays in the series opener Friday.
Boston (81-61) maintained its 4 1/2-game lead atop the American League East over the second-place Yankees after New York's 3-1 victory against the Texas Rangers on Saturday afternoon.
Tampa Bay (70-73) lost its third straight game, but remained 4 1/2 games behind the Twins for the second AL wild-card spot after Minnesota's 5-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals.
Danny Espinosa paced the Tampa Bay offense with a three-hit night, but the Rays snapped their season franchise-record streak of 18 straight games with a home run.
Rays starter Matt Andriese (5-3) was knocked around to the tune of eight runs (six earned) and seven hits with two walks and two strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings, throwing only 50 pitches.
Andriese was making his second start after missing two months with a hip injury. In 6 2/3 innings since make his return, Andriese has allowed 11 earned runs.
Boston built an 8-0 lead for the second straight game, scoring three runs in the first and five in the second against a shaky Andriese.
Pedroia's seventh homer barely cleared the Green Monster in left field two batters into the Red Sox's first. It was his first round-tripper since July 20.
Moreland's groundout two at-bats later made it 3-0.
All of Boston's five second-inning runs came with two outs. Benintendi knocked in two with a double, Moreland had a two-run single and Mookie Betts scored on a throwing error.
Benintendi's two-out RBI single in the third made it 9-0.
NOTES: Boston INF/OF Eduardo Nunez started the game at SS after missing Friday's game with mid-back spasms, but left in the second inning with a right knee contusion he suffered while running out an infield single. ... Tampa Bay RF Steven Souza Jr. (left knee bruise) was not in the lineup after leaving Friday's game following a collision with the right-field wall. He expects to return this season. ... Red Sox LHP David Price (left elbow inflammation) threw two simulated innings Saturday. He will pitch another simulated game Wednesday or Thursday, after which the team will discuss his role. ... JetBlue Park will serve as a Hurricane Irma shelter for Red Sox personnel in Fort Myers, Fla., the Boston Globe reports. ... Boston native and Rays RHP Alex Cobb (10-9, 3.64 ERA) opposes Red Sox RHP Rick Porcello (9-16, 4.67 ERA) in Sunday's series finale.