Brandon Lowe crushed his team-leading 31st homer, drove in two and scored twice Monday as the Tampa Bay Rays won the series opener 6-1 over the Boston Red Sox in St. Petersburg, Fla.
The second baseman, who also walked twice, hit a home run on the first pitch of the bottom of the first inning and added a run-scoring single in the fourth.
Austin Meadows produced his team-high 92nd RBI for the Rays, who won for the eighth straight time and 12th in the past 13 games.
Rookie Wander Franco sliced a two-run single in the eighth for a 6-1 lead and pushed his on-base streak to 30 consecutive games.
Starter Luis Patino (4-3) was strong over 5 2/3 innings, allowing one run on five hits. The right-hander fanned five and walked one.
Bobby Dalbec clubbed a solo homer and Alex Verdugo logged two of the six hits for Boston, which fell to 5-8 this season against the Rays and slipped nine games behind them and in third place in the American League East.
Starter Nick Pivetta (9-7) struggled with his control over five-plus innings. He surrendered four runs on six hits, walked five (one intentional) and uncorked two wild pitches. He struck out six.
In the first inning, Lowe blasted his home run — an estimated 441 feet and just right of the batter’s eye in center field.
The red-hot Dalbec answered in the second by driving Patino’s 96 mph fastball in the bottom of the strike zone to left for his 18th homer — his fourth in his last 11 at-bats.
Tampa Bay regained the lead in the third when Meadows grounded a two-out single through a crowded right side of the Boston infield, sending Lowe home after his leadoff walk.
Pivetta appeared to get out of the fourth with a two-out strikeout of Mike Zunino, but his curveball bounced away from catcher Christian Vazquez for a wild pitch. Lowe then chopped a single over a leaping Dalbec at first to score Kevin Kiermaier (2-for-4, double, two runs scored).
In the sixth, Tampa Bay chased Pivetta and moved the lead to 4-1 — scoring on a fielding error by third baseman Rafael Devers – but reliever Hansel Robles recorded three straight outs to shut down the threat.
Slated to hit fourth in the eighth, Franco came to the plate after Zunino walked and Nelson Cruz doubled. The 20-year-old shortstop then singled hard to left to finish the scoring.
–Field Level Media