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Adrian Beltre continued the rejuvination of his career on Wednesday night by hitting two home runs, compiling six RBI and leading the Red Sox to an 11-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
By sweeping baseball’s best team, Boston extended their winning streak to five games and handed Tampa Bay their first sweep of the season.
With Beltre leading the way, the Red Sox offense had their way with the Rays’ pitching this series, scoring 19 runs in three games. Over his past eight games, Beltre has batted .516 and his six RBI last night matched a career high. He finished a double shy of the cycle after his ninth-inning triple helped put the game out of reach.
Even nicer to see than Beltre’s heroics might have been David Ortiz’s at-bats. Ortiz, who has basically been in a slump the entire season, seems to have found his swing again and has put together a very impressive month of May. Over the last month, Big Papi has batted .329 with 8 homers and 21 RBI. Ortiz added to those numbers last night, going 2-4 with a home run and two RBI.
Ortiz, who batted third for the first time in a year, homered for the sixth time in his last 11 games.
In a full team effort, the Red Sox pitching showed up, as well.
John Lackey allowed two runs over 6 1/3 innings, pitching his best with runners in scoring position and improved his season record to 5-3 with the win. The rest was in the hands of the bullpen. Hideki Okajima came in got the final two outs in the seventh. Ramon Ramirez then pitched a perfect eighth inning.
Boston improved to a season-best six games over .500 (27-21) and has gone 23-12 since being swept by the Rays in four games at Fenway Park from April 16-19. Tampa Bay, whose three-game losing streak matches its season high, is 22-12 since then.
“We know we’re good. We just have to sustain it over 162 games,” second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. “We started out real slow and everybody kind of panicked,” Pedroia added. “We have confidence we’re going to win a lot of games, and hopefully the way we’re playing will continue for a long time. We’re still climbing. We’re letting everybody know we’re not going anywhere.”
Let it be known: the AL East is a three-team race again and now that the Red Sox have rejoined the party, they’re not planning on leaving any time soon.