BOSTON — Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel was on the mound with runners on second and third – twice.

At the rate he strikes out batters, it didn’t matter.

Sandy Leon hit an opposite-field, go-ahead RBI single inside the third-base bag with two outs in the eighth inning, and Kimbrel escaped two major jams, lifting the Red Sox to a 4-3 victory Sunday over Tampa Bay that snapped the Rays’ eight-game winning streak.

J.D. Martinez had four singles and drove in two runs for the Red Sox, but misplayed a fly ball into a double that put runners on second and third in the eighth before Kimbrel struck out Brad Miller to end the inning.

Kimbrel (1-1) then struck out Jesus Sucre and pinch-hitter Carlos Gomez in the ninth after two singles and a sacrifice put runners on second and third with one out.

“He’s a high-strikeout guy,” Martinez said. “Any time guys get on base, you never know, he could load the bases and strike three guys out. That’s how he throws.”

Last season, Kimbrel fanned 49.6 percent of the batters he faced – 126 of 254. So far this year, he has 15 strikeouts in 112/3 innings.

The right-hander has a bigger reason to smile these days, though. Kimbrel said his 5-month old daughter, Lydia Joy, is finally home after heart surgery that caused him to miss most of spring training.

“It’s been great,” he said. “I’ve lost a little bit of sleep, trying to catch up on it. Lydia came home the other day. It’s been nice to be at the house to spend time with her.”

Boston had lost five of seven.

Denard Span hit a two-run homer and made a leaping catch in front of the Green Monster for the Rays, who had their third-longest winning streak in team history. Tampa Bay won nine straight in 2014 and 12 in 2004.

The Rays started the season 4-13 and had a chance to reach .500.

“We needed it every bit, and then some,” Tampa Bay Manager Kevin Cash said of the streak. “A lot of good things kind of came about. We saw our offense take shape a little bit and get hot. Pitchers got into that better rhythm, and defensively (we’ve been) kind of as advertised.”

Red Sox starter Rick Porcello gave up three runs and seven hits with six strikeouts and no walks over 72/3 innings.

Martinez led off the eighth win a single against Tampa Bay closer Alex Colome (2-3) and Jackie Bradley Jr. walked before Leon hit a bouncer inside the bag that caromed off a side wall into short left field.

“We’re feeling good about this series, winning two out of three,” Rays starter Matt Andriese said.

Trailing 3-0, Boston rallied to tie in the sixth inning on Martinez’s two-run single and Bradley’s sacrifice fly, but they left the bases loaded.

Span’s homer over Boston’s bullpen made it 2-0 in the third. Mallex Smith added an RBI single an inning later.

TRAINER’S ROOM

RAYS: Catcher Wilson Ramos was out of the lineup after leaving Saturday’s game because of a sore groin.

RED SOX: Outfielder Mookie Betts, who left Saturday’s game because of a tight right hamstring, was out of the lineup Sunday. Manager Alex Cora didn’t seem too concerned, saying it’s “day to day.” … Right-hander Tyler Thornburg, recovering from right shoulder surgery, starts a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday.

ANGRY WALK

Red Sox slugger Hanley Ramirez was hit on the left forearm Andriese. The slugger glared at the pitcher and appeared to say something before flipping his bat toward Boston’s dugout and walking slowly to first with catcher Sucre in between the pair, but nothing escalated.

WARM HELLO

Cash came out of the dugout in the middle of the sixth inning to say hello to a couple fans who walked down to the first row from much further back to get his attention. Cash played on Boston’s 2007 World Series-winning team.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.