Boston (47-31) moved within one game of the New York Yankees for first place in the AL East with an 8-5 win over Tampa Bay (44-32) in Tuesday’s series opener.
The victory came hours after the Red Sox placed catcher Victor Martinez(notes) (broken left thumb) on the 15-day disabled list. He joined Dustin Pedroia(notes) (broken foot), Josh Beckett(notes) (back), Jacoby Ellsbury(notes) (ribs), Mike Lowell(notes) (hip), Jeremy Hermida(notes) (ribs) and Jed Lowrie(notes) (mononucleosis) on the disabled list.
Despite missing so many key members of their offense, the Red Sox had little trouble scoring Tuesday. David Ortiz(notes) hit a three-run homer in the fifth inning to break a scoreless tie and Bill Hall(notes) added a two-run shot in the seventh.
“You’ve got three masterpieces going down in three games,” Ortiz said. “We’ve been able to have different guys come through every night.”
The Red Sox have scored 45 runs and batted .307 with 11 homers during a seven-game win streak at Fenway Park. Their pitching has also been solid in that run, posting a 3.00 ERA.
Tuesday’s win came against a Tampa Bay team that has dropped nine of 12. The Rays are three games behind the Yankees, and the focus before the game continued to be on the confrontation between Upton and Evan Longoria(notes) in the dugout Sunday.
The two had to be separated during a 2-1 loss to Arizona after Upton failed to run hard after a ball in the outfield. Upton didn’t start Tuesday, hitting a pinch-hit triple in the eighth, but manager Joe Maddon insisted the decision to bring him off the bench wasn’t a punishment.
“Just all things considered I wanted to give him tonight off,” he said.
Maddon said Upton could “possibly” be back in the lineup Wednesday. However, he is just 1 for 13 against Daisuke Matsuzaka(notes) (5-2, 4.50 ERA), who will take the mound for Boston. Carl Crawford(notes), who returned Tuesday from a three-game absence due to left shoulder soreness, is 3 for 14 against Matsuzaka.
The Rays will try to avoid a season high-tying third straight loss behind Matt Garza(notes) (8-5, 4.10), who has won three of his last four starts. He bounced back after lasting a career-low 1 1-3 innings against Florida on June 18, giving up three runs and six hits in eight innings of a 5-3 win over San Diego on Thursday.
“The whole thing was control the situation,” Garza said. “Control the game and make the pitches. Not just pitch, but make pitches. That was the biggest key for me.”
The right-hander has split two starts against the Red Sox this season, pitching eight scoreless innings in a 7-1 win at Fenway on April 18 and giving up six runs over five innings in an 11-3 home loss May 26.
Matsuzaka made his first start off the disabled list Thursday, allowing two runs and five hits in five innings of a 13-11, 10-inning win at Colorado. He had been sidelined over two weeks with a right forearm strain.
The right-hander is 2-4 with a 4.05 ERA in nine starts against the Rays, going 1-2 at home.