Red Sox batter Rays in ALDS opener

BOSTON – One ball fell between two outfielders. Another took a bad hop off the Green Monster standings. One batter reached safely on a dropped third strike and another when the pitcher was slow to cover first base.

By the time it was over, the Boston Red Sox had scored five runs in the fourth inning, taking advantage of Tampa Bay’s bad luck and bad defense to beat the Rays 12-2 on Friday in Game 1 of the American League Division Series.

“You play 162 games, a lot of innings, a lot of pitches, a lot of runs. One thing you can guarantee in the playoffs is you’re going to see something you haven’t seen all year,” said Boston’s Jonny Gomes. “And we saw that right away.”

Boston right fielder Shane Victorino, a St. Anthony High alumnus, batted 3-for-4 with a run, two RBIs, a hit by pitch and a stolen base.

The Red Sox had 14 hits, including five doubles.

“We’ve done that all year long,” Victorino was quoted as saying on the Red Sox web site. “We’ve been a good offense, we’ve been a good team. We’ve scored a lot of runs.”

Game 2 today before the series shifts to St. Petersburg, Fla., for Games 3 and 4.

“We’ve been playing very well. We’ve not been making any mistakes. We made a bunch tonight,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “But I’ve also learned one other thing regarding baseball: 24 hours can make a huge difference. That’s just one game, baby. That’s just one.”

Jon Lester allowed just three hits in 7 2/3 innings for the AL East champions, giving up solo homers to Sean Rodriguez and Ben Zobrist to spot the Rays a 2-0 lead through the top of the fourth. Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore had still not given up a hit to that point.

But Dustin Pedroia led off the bottom half with a single, then David Ortiz hit a high fly ball that center fielder Desmond Jennings and right fielder Wil Myers converged on. The Rays rookie raised his right hand to call off Jennings but let it fall behind him and bunce off the warning track and into the bullpen for a double.

“I don’t feel bad for (Myers), brother. I’ve been in that situation before as a young player,” Victorino told the team’s site. “This kid is going to be a good player. He’s actually going to be a great player. He has a lot of tools.”

After Mike Napoli popped out, Gomes hit a fly ball that scraped the left-field wall on the way down. Pedroia and Ortiz scored to tie it at 2-2.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out before Stephen Drew hit a slow hopper to first that James Loney fielded and flicked to Moore. But the pitcher’s foot came down a split second after Drew’s. Gomes never slowed down as he rounded third and scored without a throw.

Will Middlebrooks followed with a line drive to left that took a bad hop off the Monster, and it got past Rodriguez on the rebound. That allowed Drew to score and make it 4-2, while Middlebrooks went into second with a double.

Jacoby Ellsbury reached on a passed ball on strike three and Middlebrooks moved to third, where he scored on Victorino’s single to right field to make it 5-2.

The Red Sox added three more runs to chase Moore in the fifth inning.



HBP-by M.Moore (Victorino). WP-M.Moore. PB-Lobaton.

Umpires-Home, Chris Guccione; First, Eric Cooper; Second, Dana DeMuth; Third, Paul Emmel; Right, Larry Vanover; Left, Mike Winters.

T-3:33. A-38,177 (37,071).