ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Felix Doubront had been trying for this victory for a while.
Doubront limited Tampa Bay’s sputtering offense to one hit over six innings and the Boston Red Sox rallied for a 7-5 win that dealt another blow to the Rays’ fading playoff hopes on Tuesday night.
Doubront (11-9) earned his first victory since July 18, when he beat the Chicago White Sox. He was 0-5 with a 7.38 ERA in his previous eight starts.
“It feels like a long time,” said Doubront, who walked five and struck out five. “I just want to finish strong. I’m getting my confidence back. Today was just one rough inning and I handled that.”
Doubront settled down after a shaky third inning when he loaded the bases on three walks before yielding a two-run single to Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria’s sacrifice fly.
The left-hander walked Sean Rodriguez, Desmond Jennings and B.J. Upton to load the bases with one out, then watched all of them score on Zobrist’s hit and Longoria’s fly ball to left. He eventually got into a groove and retired 11 of his last 12 batters, limiting the Rays to a one-out walk in the fifth.
“He deserved to win,” Boston manager Bobby Valentine said. “He had that third inning. A couple calls that he got upset with. Three runs later he’s on the verge of coming out of the game. Then he got his 11th win. I’m really happy for him.”
Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, James Loney, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway drove in runs for the Red Sox, who beat their AL East rivals for the second straight night, extending Tampa Bay’s losing streak to four games and dropping the third-place Rays six games behind the division-leading New York Yankees.
The Red Sox, who already have been eliminated from playoff contention, scored a run in the fourth and two more in the fifth. They took the lead with an unearned run off Kyle Farnsworth (1-6) in the sixth, then tacked on three more in the seventh when Saltalamacchia had an RBI single and Lavarnway followed with a two-run double off Wade Davis.
“The game was slow-paced,” Lavarnway said of the 4 hour, 9 minute contest. “I’m glad we came out on top. These are kind of the worst games to lose.”
Boston has won four of five after losing 13 of 15.
“We’re starting to come together, which is nice,” Lavarnway said. “Hopefully we can keep it going.”
The Rays lost for the seventh time in eight games despite four RBIs from Zobrist, who added a two-run single off Junichi Tazawa in the seventh to help Tampa Bay pull within 7-5. The runs were charged to Clayton Mortensen, who loaded the bases with two outs when he hit Carlos Pena with a pitch and walked the next two batters.
Andrew Bailey pitched the ninth for his fifth save, completing a three-hitter.
Tampa Bay starter Jeremy Hellickson allowed three runs and five hits in four-plus innings.
Loney singled in a run in the fourth, and the Red Sox chased Hellickson when Jose Iglesias walked and Pedro Ciriaco and Ellsbury singled to begin the fifth inning. Ellsbury’s hit trimmed Tampa Bay’s lead to 3-2 and Boston pulled even on Pedroia’s sacrifice fly off Jake McGee.
Boston broke the tie on a throwing error by Rodriguez, filling in at third base for Longoria, who served as the designated hitter.
The Rays committed three errors for the second straight night. A year after finishing with a major league-low 73 errors, they have 109 with 14 games remaining.