Ramirez hits grand slam, Red Sox beat Rays 8-6
BOSTON >> Another tough game for the Red Sox bullpen.
This time followed by a save from the Boston bats.
Aaron Hill sliced an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth after Tampa Bay tied it in the top half of the inning, and the Red Sox held on for an 8-6 victory over the Rays on Wednesday.
"We had to find a way to fight back again," manager John Farrell said after the Red Sox finished the homestand with a 3-3 record and headed to the West Coast for the first six in a nine-game road trip.
Hanley Ramirez hit a fifth-inning grand slam to erase a 4-1 deficit, and Jackie Bradley Jr. added a solo shot in the sixth to give Boston a 6-4 lead. But one game after the Red Sox blew a two-run lead in the seventh, the Rays loaded the bases against Fernando Abad in the eighth and Logan Forsythe hit a two-run single off Junichi Tazawa (3-2) to tie it.
In the bottom half, Ramirez led off with a walk, Sandy Leon bunted him to second and pinch-hitter Brock Holt singled him to third. Hill followed with a single past the first baseman to score Ramirez, and Bradley hit an RBI double to make it 8-6.
"Difficult loss," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "A walk here and couple of hits, then the big home run by Hanley really killed us."
Xander Bogaerts also homered for the Red Sox, and Bradley had three hits. Dustin Pedroia had three more hits for Boston, which had lost five of its previous seven games after moving into a tie for first place in the AL East.
Pedroia has 15 hits in his last 20 at-bats and is batting .463 since moving into the leadoff spot on Aug. 10.
Erasmo Ramirez (7-10) gave up Hill's single and an RBI double by Bradley in the eighth.
Kevin Kiermaier had three hits for the Rays, and Forsythe and Logan Morrison each homered as Tampa Bay opened a 4-1 lead through four innings.
But Boston took the lead in the fifth after Drew Smyly loaded the bases on two hits and a two-out walk. Ramirez hit the next pitch over the Green Monster for his 19th homer of the season.
The Rays made it 4-1 on Kiermaier's single in the fourth, but they could have had another if Tim Beckham hadn't slowed up along the third base line on the way home. Kiermaier was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double, and Beckham hadn't yet touched home plate.
Asked which mistake was worse, the out on the basepaths or the squandered run, Cash said: "Definitely the not hustling."
"That's required of us and probably the easiest part to do in baseball," he said.
Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 24th save. Farrell said his closer was not available to get a four-out save a day after throwing 22 pitches in a non-save situation just so he could get his work in. "I was not going to go with a short turnaround," Farrell said.
Boston knuckleballer Steven Wright lasted only four innings, allowing four runs on seven hits and three walks. In two starts since coming back from a right shoulder strain, Wright has allowed nine runs on 14 hits in 19 innings.
"I felt like it was hard for me to get the same life, the same action I had pre-injury," he said.
Red Sox: RP Brad Ziegler was unavailable with the flu. Farrell said he would fly on his own to the West Coast "to keep him away from others ... being so contagious."
Rays: Off Thursday, home against Toronto on Friday with Alex Cobb making his 2016 debut against Francisco Liriano (7-12). Red Sox: Off Thursday, at Oakland on Friday with David Price (13-9) against Andrew Triggs (1-1).