Red Sox 14, Devil Rays 4
BOSTON (AP)—Kevin Millar isn’t complaining anymore about Terry Francona’s frequently changing lineups.
“I made a mistake” and had a “great” talk with Francona, Millar said. “The people in this clubhouse know that I’m not selfish. I want to contribute and help this team win.”
And he’s been doing that after struggling most of the season.
In his last 19 games, Millar is 31-for-66 (.470) with 18 runs, seven homers and 21 RBIs to increase his batting average from .269 to .306. He had just five homers and 25 RBIs in his first 85 games.
“The whole first two months or so I kept saying and I kept repeating that we need to stay with him because he would help us,” Francona said. “We are reaping the benefits of it.”
Boston scored five runs in both the second and third innings for a 13-1 lead and cruised to its fourth win in five games. Tampa Bay lost for the 11th time in 12 road games.
“The clubs are good that we’re playing,” Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said. “We have young pitching and they have veteran hitters. That’s a bad combination.”
Derek Lowe (10-10) benefited from Boston’s 15-hit attack and left with a blister on his pitching thumb with two outs in the sixth and the score 13-3. He allowed nine hits with four strikeouts and one walk. The Red Sox have scored nine runs or more in eight of his wins and matched their season high of 14 runs.
“We can talk about the thumb until the cows come home, but we won,” said Lowe, who has been plagued by such blisters this year. “Their pitcher was having a phenomenal year and to score that many runs off him should get everyone confident.”
Making his first career appearance against Boston, Dewon Brazelton (4-4) had the worst outing of his 13 starts this season, allowing eight runs—seven earned—in 1 2-3 innings. Going into the game, his 2.56 ERA since June 1 was the second best in the AL.
“Sometimes, as a pitcher, it gets rolling and you can’t get it stopped,” he said.
Millar went 4-for-4 with two singles, a double and a three-run homer, tying his career high of four hits. He left for pinch-runner Gabe Kapler after doubling in the fifth.
“It’s been a tough year, mentally, but I’ll be stronger,” Millar said.
David Ortiz drove in two runs, giving him 100 for the second straight season and leaving him one short of his career high.
Boston came right back on Millar’s 12th homer of the year in the first after Damon singled and Manny Ramirez was hit by a pitch.
The Red Sox batted around in the next two innings.
They loaded the bases with no outs in the second when Bill Mueller singled, Kevin Youkilis was hit by a pitch and Damon walked. Then Doug Mientkiewicz got an RBI single and Ortiz hit a sacrifice fly for a 5-1 lead.
Millar singled to center for one RBI, and another run scored when Rocco Baldelli booted the ball for an error. Varitek then doubled home a run.
Mueller also led off the five-run third with a single, Youkilis singled and Damon hit a two-run double. A walk to Ortiz and a single by Millar loaded the bases and Varitek cleared them with another double.
Ortiz doubled in the last run in the seventh.
Boston has scored at least eighth runs in 30 of its 62 wins. … SS Orlando Cabrera made the last out for Boston in each of the first three innings. … Brazelton had allowed a total of six earned runs in his previous five starts. … Millar and Mientkiewicz each tied career highs with three runs.