BOSTON – (Staff and Wire Service Report from Sports Xchange) – Chris Sale gave up his third and fourth home runs in a Red Sox uniform, but that didn’t keep the left-hander from pitching Boston to a 6-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in the middle game of a three-game series on Saturday at Fenway Park. Sale, winning his third straight start, surrendered homers to Logan Morrison (his 10th) and Kevin Kiermaier, but those were the only hits he allowed in seven strong innings that included 12 strikeouts.
Mookie Betts clubbed a two-run homer, his fourth blast in six games, and doubled home a run while Deven Marrero, Boston’s latest third baseman, doubled home two runs off Blake Snell (0-4) for Boston (19-17).
Sale (4-2, 2.15 ERA) left to a standing ovation after the seventh inning and Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel, who earned his 11th save, finished up with an inning and two strikeouts apiece.
Sale struck out seven of the first 10 hitters, the fourth straight time he has fanned six of the first nine. The solo home run he allowed to Morrison marked the first extra-base hit by a left-handed hitter off Sale in 21 at-bats this season. The only other MLB pitchers to accomplish the feat are Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson.
It was only the ninth homer Sale has ever given up to a left-handed batter, and then Kiermaier made it 10. His two-run homer came on a 0-and-2 pitch after hitters were only 2-for-30 with 21 strikeouts when down 0-and-2 to Sale.
Sale reached double figures in strikeouts for the seventh straight time and leads the major leagues with 85 this season.
“Every adjective (positive attribute) we’ve given so far — a lot of swing and miss, competitive, quick pace, deep into games,” Boston manager John Farrell said after Sale went seven strong innings in the Sox’ victory over Tampa Bay.
“It was almost a carbon-copy of his previous starts, except for a couple of pitches,” said Farrell in his postgame press briefing. “Today, we gave him some run support, then (Joe) Kelly and (Craig) Kimbrel were outstanding in relief.”
Chris Sale (4-2)
Evan Longoria of the Rays went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and is 2-for-27 with 11 strikeouts in his career against Sale. Morrison’s homer was his first off a left-hander since last May 25 and he reached double figures in home runs in 39 games, faster than any Tampa Bay player since 2009.
NOTES: Boston SS Xander Bogaerts drove in a run but his 15-game hitting streak was stopped. … The game was played at 1 p.m., moved up from 7 to beat an approaching storm. … Both teams wore pink-brimmed caps and assorted other pink in honor of Mother’s Day weekend. … RF Steven Souza Jr. returned to the Tampa Bay lineup after missing four games because of a thumb injury. … INF/OF Brock Holt of the Red Sox, on the disabled list because of vertigo, is slated to play nine innings for triple-A Pawtucket on Sunday, while 3B Pablo Sandoval, on the DL because of a knee injury, will accompany the team on the upcoming trip before a rehab assignment. … The Rays send RHP Matt Andriese out against LHP Drew Pomeranz in the series finale Sunday, with the weather a potential problem. … The players in the 3-6 spots in the Boston lineup went a combined 0-for-15 with one walk