BOSTON (AP) — Jon Lester pitched seven shutout innings and Brock Holt drove in two runs with one of his four doubles to lift the Boston Red Sox to their seventh straight win, completing a three-game sweep over the reeling Tampa Bay Rays with a 4-0 victory on Sunday.
Boston’s streak follows a 10-game skid, its longest in 20 years. The Red Sox said that matches a major league record for consecutive wins after a double-digit losing stretch, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau.
The 1989 Detroit Tigers did it after losing 12 in a row, and the 1942 Pittsburgh Pirates also did it after dropping 10 straight.
Holt had his big day after hitting his first major league homer in Saturday night’s win. Garin Cecchini added an RBI double for his first major league hit.
Evan Longoria had a pair of singles for the Rays, who dropped their season-high sixth straight. Tampa Bay owns the AL’s worst record at 23-34.
Lester (6-6) allowed four hits, while striking out 12 and walking one. It was the left-hander’s 19th career double-digit strikeout game, coming after he struck out a career-best 15 against the Oakland Athletics on May 3.
Edward Mujica and Koji Uehara each pitched an inning to complete the five-hit shutout.
For the second straight day, the clubs were cordial to each other on the field after three Boston managers and a pitcher were ejected in Friday’s game.
Rays starter David Price hit David Ortiz in the first inning and Mike Carp later in the fourth. The Carp one triggered the benches to clear, the second time in less than a week the two teams had a scrum.
Last Sunday in Tropicana Field, players in Boston’s dugout started yelling at Yunel Escobar when he stole third with the Rays up by five runs late.
The Red Sox broke ahead 3-0 in the fourth against Erik Bedard (2-4). Alex Hassan singled to center for his first major league hit after Jonny Gomes singled leading off. Jackie Bradley Jr. then walked before Jonathan Herrera had a sacrifice fly, making it 1-0. Holt followed with his two-run double.
Bedard lasted 4 2-3 innings, allowing three runs and five hits, walking four and striking out four.
NOTES: Boston 2B Dustin Pedroia was back in the lineup after missing Saturday’s with a sore right hand, but his day was cut short when he was ejected at the end of the third by home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn. ... Tampa Bay placed OF Wil Myers on the 15-day DL before the game and recalled 1B/OF Jerry Sands from Triple-A Durham. Sands went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. ... Rays SS Escobar was out of the starting lineup for the second straight game with a tight left quad, but he pinch hit in the seventh and flied to center. ... It was Lester’s 233rd career start, moving him into fifth on the club’s all-time list. ... Before the game, the Red Sox called up 3B Cecchini from Triple-A Pawtucket and optioned RHP Alex Wilson. Cecchini got into the game when Pedroia was ejected. ... Tampa Bay opens a two-game series in Miami on Monday when RHP Alex Cobb (1-2, 2.93 ERA) faces LHP Randy Wolf (0-1, 4.50). The Red Sox open a nine-game road trip in Cleveland Monday when John Lackey (6-3, 3.27) goes against RHP Justin Masterson (2-4, 5.21).