BOSTON – August began as July ended for the surging Tampa Bay Rays, who with a 9-4 win over the host Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park completed a three-game sweep of their AL East rivals.
Mike Zunino and Austin Meadows homered, Tommy Pham doubled twice and drove in two runs and starter Brendan McKay got plenty of run support while holding the Red Sox to three runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings, striking out seven to improve to 2-1.
The Rays, despite a pair of Xander Bogaerts home runs and a solo shot from Mookie Betts, won their fourth straight game and maintained their grasp on the No. 2 wild-card spot in the American League, with the Oakland Athletics (-1.5) a half-game behind. The Red Sox lost their fourth straight and fell 3 1/2 games behind the Rays.
The Rays also became the first visiting team to win eight games at Fenway Park over Boston since the 1966 Baltimore Orioles (+1.5).
Tampa Bay scored three runs in the second inning off Andrew Cashner (10-6). Ji-Man Choi drew a bases-loaded walk to tie the score at 2, Eric Sogard scored on a passed ball and Pham doubled in a run for 4-2 lead, with Choi thrown out at home plate on the hit.
Bogaerts gave Boston a 2-1 lead with a two-run home run over the seats atop the Green Monster in left field, after the Rays went up 1-0 in the first on Matt Duffy’s two-out infield hit, which was originally ruled an out but overturned on a Tampa Bay challenge.
Bogaerts’ second home run and 25th of the season also went out to left field in the fifth inning and cut Tampa Bay’s lead to 4-3.
The Rays loaded the bases on a single, double and walk with one out, and ended up scoring three runs in the sixth on a fielder’s choice, a Darwinzon Hernandez wild pitch and Pham’s second double of the night.
All of those runs were charged to Cashner, who allowed seven runs on seven hits with five walks in 5 2/3 innings.
Jesus Aguilar had two hits and scored twice in his Rays debut as the designated hitter after being traded from Milwaukee on Wednesday, and both Choi and Zunino reached base four times. Zunino homered in the eighth inning and Meadows in the ninth, putting the game out of reach.