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BOS@TB: Three players ejected after benches clear

Five days after their benches cleared in the last game of a Tampa Bay sweep, the Rays and Red Sox will meet for another round Friday night at Fenway Park.

The Rays have played just one series since Sunday's altercation, which was brought on by Tampa Bay shortstop Yunel Escobar taking third base on defensive indifference with a five-run lead in the seventh inning. They then lost three in a row to the American League East-leading Blue Jays.

After hitting their low-point of the season at Tropicana Field last weekend, getting swept to extend their losing streak to 10 games, the Red Sox responded by winning four in a row against the National League East-leading Braves.

David Price will be on the hill for the Rays, a little less than a week removed from an eight-inning, five-run, seven-strikeout outing against the Red Sox in St. Petersburg. All five of those runs came in the top of the first, when Boston jumped out to a five-run lead.

Price was lights-out after that, keeping the Red Sox off the scoreboard for the next seven innings and limiting them to a just one additional hit -- in the eighth, after six straight hitless frames.

While Price was putting up zeros, the Rays were cutting into the lead, which they erased by the fifth inning. After both teams went scoreless for the next nine innings, Tampa Bay won the game in the 15th.

"Well, David Price permitted it," manager Joe Maddon said of the win. "That was a tough first inning. He easily could have given in or caved in, but he came back. He pitched extremely well -- beyond extremely well. He set the tone for all of that to permit us to come back."

The Red Sox will counter with Brandon Workman, who is making his second start in place of the injured Felix Doubront.

Workman held his own in his start against the Rays on Sunday, allowing five hits and three runs over five innings.

"The thing that stands out with Brandon is his ability to make a pitch in some key moments," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "He keeps an inning from unraveling on him. I think that's partly because of his maturity and composure on the mound. I thought last time out, he gave us what we anticipated. That was to get us to the second half of a game.

"We certainly would like him to pitch deeper. He's not going to back away and pitch on the fringe. He challenges guys in the zone, and we expect that again come Friday."

Rays: Zobrist rehabs in Port Charlotte
Second baseman Ben Zobrist made a rehab start for the Class A Advanced Charlotte on Wednesday and is expected to be activated from the 15-day disabled list on Friday.

Zobrist, who suffered a dislocated left thumb sliding headfirst into second base on May 14, started at second base for the Stone Crabs, batted second and played all nine innings in Charlotte's 5-3 loss to the Dunedin Blue Jays.

Zobrist went 1-for-4 at the plate, with a single into right field in his final at-bat in the ninth inning. Zobrist also grounded out to second in the first, walked in the third, flied out to center in the fifth and grounded out to short in the seventh.

To make room on the roster, Tampa Bay optioned infielder Cole Figueroa to Triple-A Durham on Thursday.

Red Sox: Papi could return Friday
Red Sox slugger David Ortiz was held out of Thursday's lineup with soreness in his right calf, but Farrell is hopeful his designated hitter will be back in the lineup for the opener against the Rays.

Ortiz had the same injury at the end of Spring Training and sat out the final five games of the Grapefruit League schedule.

Ortiz's workload over the past few games has been more than normal. He started both games at first base against the Braves and legged out a single in Wednesday's game against Atlanta.

"You're dealing with a lower extremity. I just think coming off the volume, David's been great in terms of the preventative maintenance and the care that he's got to go through," Farrell said. "And yet, after two full days at first base and another at DH last night, it was best to hold him out tonight."

Ortiz pinch-hit in the eighth inning of the Red Sox's 4-3 walk-off victory, but Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez elected to intentionally walk the slugger, who was then lifted for a pinch-runner.

Worth noting
• The Rays are 5-1 against the Red Sox this season.

• A.J. Pierzynski is just 3-for-17 lifetime against Price, but he belted a three-run homer against him last week.

• Starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson, who is also on the DL, threw a two-inning simulated game on Wednesday in Port Charlotte.

• Price is close to the league lead in both hits allowed (83) and strikeouts (84). He would be the first pitcher in 43 years to lead the Majors in both categories. Comments