With blowout victory, Rays gain on Yankees
Tampa Bay blasts season-high five homers to batter Boston
BOSTON -- The Rays got exactly what they needed Tuesday night: A laugher.
After falling behind by two runs, the Rays began scoring and didn't quit until they had sufficiently punished Red Sox pitchers in a 14-5 blowout win at Fenway Park.
By winning, the Rays snapped a three-game losing streak while picking up a game on the Yankees, moving them to within 1 1/2 games of the American League East leaders. In addition, the victory expanded the margin between Tampa Bay and Boston to 7 1/2 games.
"Winning beats losing," said manager Joe Maddon when asked about the Rays reversing their fortunes after losing to the Red Sox, 12-5, on Monday night. "The way it started out, it didn't really look wonderful. But we righted ourselves, obviously."
Everybody seemed to chip in with a contribution to the Rays' cause Tuesday night, but Carl Crawford and David Price managed to stand out.
Crawford had a career-high three doubles -- which came in his first three at-bats against Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka -- and recorded his Major League-leading eighth four-hit game of the season.
Crawford is "just an unbelievable talent," Evan Longoria said. "We've all been watching him, you guys longer than I have, but he's been probably the most consistent offensively as far as getting on base, getting into scoring position -- clearly being a sparkplug for the team -- and tonight, obviously, no different.
"He's one of those guys that when the pressure's on and he's in the moment, he finds a way to get it done."
Added Maddon: "Carl is very contagious. When he's doing that kind of stuff, it's not only the hit, it's what he creates on the bases. He's a run-scoring machine. He makes everybody else around him better."
Meanwhile, Price settled in after the Red Sox scored two in the first -- only one run was earned -- and cruised to his 17th win of the season.
"That was a good win for us," Price said.
Given the way Price's teammates were hitting, Price found himself in the clubhouse pedaling a stationary bicycle to remain loose during their prolonged turns at-bat.
"You've got to keep yourself loose, keep your body loose so you don't get tight," Price said. "I rode it for quite a while. I don't mind it. So that was good."
Price's performance couldn't have come at a better moment since Rays starters had surrendered 16 earned runs in 11 innings in the previous three losses. In Maddon's eyes, Price rose to the occasion to stop the team's downward spiral in the fashion a No. 1 starter might employ.
"I know that was part of his thought process without even asking him," Maddon said. "He shoulders a lot of responsibility already. He really has a high standard set for himself. ... You have a driven, skilled athlete, that's a nice combination."
Ben Zobrist, Jason Bartlett, Longoria, Dan Johnson and B.J. Upton all homered, giving Tampa Bay a season high for home runs in a single game. Rays hitters also had 14 hits on the night that brought a nice change from the stagnant offense of late.
"I think we're all searching for that, I guess, rhythm offensively coming down the stretch," Longoria said. "We've got to develop something -- get some kind of, I guess, consistency. We need to have good at-bats and consistently push runs across, and when we get runners in scoring position, be able to score those guys. Tonight was a good start, and hopefully we can continue that."
Victor Martinez, who entered Tuesday night's game with a .355 average in nine games against the Rays this season, got busy early with a two-run double off Price in the first inning to put the Red Sox up 2-0.
The Rays answered in the third when John Jaso doubled to left field off Matsuzaka with one out and Zobrist followed with a home run to center field, giving him nine for the season and pulling Tampa Bay even.
The Rays broke open the game in the fourth. Zobrist had an RBI single and Crawford had a two-run double to lead a four-run uprising that put the visitors up 6-2.
Keeping its foot on the gas pedal, Tampa Bay scored six in the fifth, fueled by Bartlett's two-run homer and Longoria's three-run jack. By the end of the inning, the Rays held a 12-3 lead and the Fenway faithful offered a sarcastic cheer when the Red Sox finally got the final out of the inning.
"Yeah, [Price is] not the guy you want to fall behind against," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "Early on, Victor had both our hits. His stuff is dominating, and then you give him a lead and let him pad it like that, that's not a good formula to win."
The Rays' 14 runs set a season high and was the most the team has scored since tallying 15 vs. the Marlins on May 22, 2009.
"Even in Baltimore [during our last series], I thought we swung the bats well," Maddon said. "The offense is kind of getting a little more perky. David, hopefully, righted the starting pitching right now and we can move on from there, because, really, the cornerstone of our season has been our starting pitching, so it would be nice if the offense starts to take a little bit of a load off the starters right now."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.