BOSTON -- Jon Lester pitched a solid 7 2/3 innings, Jonny Gomes had a two-run double to spark a five-run fourth inning and the Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 12-2 on Friday afternoon in Game 1 of their American League Division Series.
The Red Sox capitalized on a few Tampa Bay defensive miscues during its big fourth as they beat the first of the Rays' two prized left-handed starters -- Matt Moore.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia had three RBIs and Shane Victorino drove in a pair for the AL East champion Red Sox, who tied St. Louis for the most victories in the majors during the regular season with 97.
Game 2 of the best-of-five series is Saturday at Fenway Park. Game 3 will be in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Monday.
Tampa Bay lefty David Price is slated to face John Lackey on Saturday.
Sean Rodriguez and Ben Zobrist had solo homers for the Rays in the opener.
Lester gave up two runs and three hits, walked three and fanned seven in his 114-pitch effort.
This series was billed as Tampa Bay's young quality arms against the Red Sox patient hitters. For one day, the Rays' arms were no match for Boston's bats.
Trailing 2-0, the Red Sox benefited from a weird ground-rule double that opened the door for them to score five runs in the fourth. With a runner on first, David Ortiz hit a high fly that right fielder Wil Myers looked like he was going to catch before he stood at the edge of the warning track. But the ball bounced off the track behind him and into Boston's bullpen. He stood there staring at center fielder Desmond Jennings. Gomes then hit a two-run double off the left-field wall and, one out later, scored from second on Stephen Drew's infield hit, pushing Boston ahead 3-2.
Will Middlebrooks then doubled off the Green Monster and left fielder Rodriguez misplayed the carom, allowing Drew to score from first. Jacoby Ellsbury reached on a passed ball when he struck out for what would have been the final out before Victorino's RBI single made it 5-2.
It was the first of two straight innings the Red Sox batted around.
In the fifth, Boston chased Moore on Saltalamacchia's two-run double that made it 7-2. Ellsbury added an RBI single, giving every Red Sox batter in the starting lineup at least one hit in the initial five innings.
When he came up in the sixth, Myers was mocked with a big hand from the sold-out Fenway crowd. After he botched the play in right, he was serenaded with chats of ''My-ers! My-ers!"
Moore, who had a two-hit shutout against Boston in late July, was tagged for eight runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings.
It was Lester's third career start to open a postseason (2008 and 2009), and he came out strong, striking out the first four hitters swinging before Rodriguez's homer.
Coming off three elimination wins, the Rays jumped ahead 1-0 in the second when Rodriguez homered into the seats above the Green Monster after he took a borderline ball on a 2-2 pitch. When the inning was over, Lester stopped along the first-base line to chat with home plate umpire Chris Guccione.
Zobrist led off the fourth with his shot into the second row of seats above the Monster. The Rays then had a pair of runners with one out, but Lester escaped further scoring.
The Red Sox wasted chances in the early innings. They had a runner on second with two outs in the first and second, but Moore got Ortiz to bounce to short in the first and Drew did the same the next inning.
But it didn't matter because they got to Moore -- with Myers' help -- in the fourth.
Tampa Bay won Sunday in Toronto, forcing a one-game play-in for the second wild card spot where it beat Texas in Arlington on Monday. The Rays then traveled to Cleveland where they defeated the Indians on Wednesday in the AL's wild-card game.
Notes: Boston manager John Farrell opted to keep starter Felix Doubront on the postseason roster and in the bullpen, leaving Matt Thornton off for at least this round. "We looked at Felix as (having) the ability to give us multiple innings," he said. "If we were to get into a situation where it's a lengthy rain delay and we need multiple innings to start back up. It was more the ability to go multiple innings and a guy who has had a very good year for us." ... Thornton, INF John McDonald and C Ryan Lavarnway were left off the roster, but they'll remain with the team. ... There was an emotional pregame ceremony with the families of MIT officer Sean Collier and Krystal Campbell, both allegedly killed by the Boston Marathon bombers, on the field along with first responders. ... It was the Rays' fourth game in a different city in six days. ... Moore was 10-1 on the road in the regular season. ... Price beat Boston twice in six days in Fenway in late July. ... Rays manager Joe Maddon thinks a big reason the lower payroll teams -- like his -- are doing well is because "with the better drug-testing policy that money is not as important."