Rays staring down the barrel of having their post-season ended.
The Boston Red Sox rolled over the Tampa Bay Rays in a second-straight game, winning 7-4 and getting closer to advancing to the American League Championship Series.
David Ortiz clubbed two home runs and Boston solved nemesis David Price by scoring a half-dozen runs in the first five innings against the Rays’ starting pitcher in front of a crowd of 38,705 at Fenway Park in Boston.
“Tonight is one example of the relentlessness of this team,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “They look at each night as an individual challenge.”
One run in the ninth inning was all the Oakland A’s needed to level their series at one game each by squeezing past Detroit 1-0 in the late game.
Boston’s bullpen got the last 10 outs as the Red Sox grabbed a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five Major League Baseball playoff series.
Boston won the opener 12-2 on Friday thanks to a barrage of defensive miscues by Tampa Bay.
On Saturday, it was 2012 Cy Young winner Price’s turn to squirm as he allowed seven runs on nine hits and two walks in just over seven innings of work.
Left-hander Price had been 2-0 in three starts at Fenway Park this season and allowed just three runs over 22 1/3 innings. He was 6-1 with a terrific 1.88 earned-run average over 10 career starts in Boston before Saturday.
Price’s Rays hope to have better luck in game three Monday when the series shifts to Florida, where the Red Sox can wrap up the series with a win.
Teams have gone up 2-0 in the AL division series 22 times and advanced in 18 of them.
The Red Sox swatted Price around early and jumped out to a 5-1 fourth-inning lead.
Price retired seven straight Boston batters before Ortiz led off the eighth with a blast down the right field line that curved around the Pesky Pole for a 7-4 Boston lead. It marked Ortiz’s first career two-homer playoff game.
Japan’s Koji Uehara struck out two in a 1-2-3 ninth to record the save. All 11 of his pitches were strikes.
“I don’t know if we can continue to find words to describe him. He thrives on moments like this,” Farrell said.
Jacoby Ellsbury had three hits, scored three runs and drove in a run. Dustin Pedroia knocked in three runs for the Red Sox.
“We knew it was going to be tough. We needed A-plus stuff and we brought it,” Pedroia said.
Starting pitcher John Lackey gave up four runs on seven hits and three walks in just over five innings of work in his first post-season start for the Red Sox.
Tampa manager Joe Maddon is confident his club will be able to bounce back and extend the series past Monday.
“Boston this time of year is lovely and I look forward to coming back in a few days,” Maddon said.
Lackey, who is coming off Tommy John surgery, posted a 10-13 mark with a 3.52 ERA this season.
James Loney had two hits, including a two-run double, for Tampa Bay, who won three win-or-go-home games in three different cities to advance to the first round of the playoffs.
In Oakland, Stephen Vogt delivered the game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth off Detroit pitcher Rick Porcello on Saturday for the A’s, who rebounded from a 3-2 loss on Friday.
“I just got a real good pitch. I got one over the plate and got the job done,” Vogt said.
Oakland rookie Sonny Gray won the pitching duel over 2011 AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander.
Gray, 23, is just the sixth rookie in Oakland history to start a postseason game. He struck out nine batters over eight innings and gave up four hits and a pair of walks.
“I felt great,” Gray said. “The defence played great. It is really nice to get this win.”
Verlander had 11 strikeouts over his seven-innings in work.
Game three of this best-of-five series is Monday in Detroit.