Saturday May 26, 2012

BOSTON (AP) -- Matt Joyce hit his second grand slam in six games and Elliot Johnson had a two-run shot to lift the Tampa Bay Rays to their third straight win, 7-4 over the Boston Red Sox on Friday night in a game that saw the benches empty in the ninth inning.

Carlos Pena, inserted into the leadoff spot after a miserable slump, added a solo homer for the Rays.

Adrian Gonzalez had an RBI double for Boston, which lost for just the fourth time in 14 games.

The Red Sox (22-23) failed to move above .500 for the fourth time this season. It’s the latest into a season they haven’t gone over .500 since 1996 when they didn’t do it until late August.

Leading off the ninth Boston reliever Franklin Morales threw behind DH Luke Scott with the first pitch and hit him in the hip area with a 3-1 count. Scott was restrained by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and the benches and bullpens emptied. There was a lot of pushing and shoving along the first-base line that carried over behind home plate before order was restored.

Boston pitching coach Bob McClure and Ben Zobrist of the Rays seemed to be the two most heated, but they were separated. When things cooled down, Boston DH David Ortiz patted Scott on the back and walked him partly to first. A few fans and Rays players were yelling at each other near Tampa Bay’s dugout when the players left the field after the incident.

Alex Cobb (2-0), making his second start since being recalled from Triple-A Durham to take Jeff Niemann’s spot in the rotation after the right-hander broke his right fibula, held Boston to two runs and three hits, while walking four and striking out two in five innings.

Fernando Rodney got his 15th save in 15 chances.

Jon Lester (3-4) took the loss, giving up a season-high three homers.

Trailing 1-0 in the third, the Rays took the lead on Joyce’s slam into the Red Sox bullpen, his second in 13 at-bats. The other came in a 5-2 win over Atlanta on May 19, also Cobb’s start. Tampa Bay had loaded the bases on a single by B.J. Upton that was sandwiched by walks to Pena and Zobrist.

Johnson and Pena homered three pitches apart in the fourth, increasing the Rays’ lead to 7-1. Johnson’s went into the Green Monster seats and Pena, hitting leadoff for the third straight game after going 0 for 17, hit his into the first row of seats down the right-field line, just past Marlon Byrd’s leap into the stands.

Pena has gone 4 for 12 with two homers and four RBI since being moved to the top of the order.

Lester, who had allowed just four homers all season before Friday, was tagged for seven runs and six hits, walked three and struck out four in four innings. He had held opponents to three runs or fewer in four of his previous five starts.

Boston cut it to 7-2 on Gonzalez’s RBI double off the Monster, but Cobb got Kevin Youkilis to bounce into an inning-ending ground out with runners on second and third. It was the last batter he faced.

Byrd had an RBI single and Mike Aviles a sacrifice fly, narrowing the gap to 7-4 in the sixth.

The Red Sox had taken a 1-0 lead in the first on Youkilis’ RBI single.