ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays won their 12th straight game to start the season, one short of the major league record, as Randy Arozarena hit a three-run homer in a 9-7 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday night.
The 1987 Milwaukee Brewers and 1982 Atlanta Braves both opened 13-0, tying for the best mark in big league history. Tampa Bay’s 12-game winning streak matches the team record set in June 2004.
“It sounds amazing,” Rays catcher Christian Bethancourt said.
Tampa Bay can equal the record Thursday at home against the Red Sox, who have lost 12 road games in a row to the Rays.
Taj Bradley (1-0) won his major league debut for the Rays. The 22-year-old right-hander, recalled from Triple-A Durham when Zach Eflin went on the injured list, allowed three runs and struck out eight over five innings.
“Taj did a great job,” Bethancourt said. “I think he did amazing. I had fun. It was very enjoyable. He was everything I expected.”
Bradley’s victory came on his mother’s birthday.
Arozarena made it 3-0 with an opposite-field homer off Chris Sale (1-1) in the first. Tampa Bay leads the majors with 30 home runs and has outscored opponents 92-27.
Rafael Devers, who had been hitless in 10 at-bats with six strikeouts in the series, pulled Boston to 8-7 on a three-run homer off Colin Poche in the seventh.
Arozarena’s sacrifice fly made it 9-7 in the eighth.
Red Sox reliever Zack Kelly left in the fifth with right elbow pain. After throwing a pitch that hit Yandy Díaz, an emotional Kelly went into a squat on the mound and used his hands to cover his face.
“He’ll fly with us tomorrow, and we’ll do all the stuff, the imaging, all that in Boston,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “It’s the elbow he had surgery (on) a few years ago. Tough, tough to see. Hopefully there’s nothing wrong.”
Sale gave up six runs, five earned, in four innings. His ERA remained at 11.25.
“Tough, you know,” Sale said. “If we had a better starting pitcher we’d have a better chance to win. I think if you look at any of my outings, I had to get bailed out. I’m not going to sit here and make excuses. I’ve just got to be better.”
Pete Fairbanks, the fifth Rays reliever, worked the ninth to get his second save.
Wander Franco drove in a pair with a double during a three-run fourth as the Rays took a 6-1 lead.
Alex Verdugo got the first hit off Bradley with a leadoff double in the fourth and scored on Justin Turner’s single. Kiké Hernández stopped an 0-for-28 slide with an RBI double in a two-run fifth that cut the deficit to 6-3.
Bethancourt, who entered 2 for 19, got his second hit of the game with an RBI double during a two-run fifth that put Tampa Bay ahead 8-3.
Red Sox: OF Masataka Yoshida (right hamstring) didn’t play.
Rays: RHP Tyler Glasnow (left oblique) is throwing off a mound.
With Yoshida out, Hernández moved from shortstop to center field, and Bobby Dalbec got his second start and fourth overall appearance at shortstop. Dalbec cleanly fielded Díaz’s grounder leading off the first, but was charged with an error on a groundball by the second-place hitter Franco.
Rays LHP Jeffrey Springs (1-0) and Boston RHP Corey Kluber (0-2) are Thursday’s scheduled starters.
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