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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Working on six days' rest, Chris Sale followed up his worst start of the season with one of his best.
Sale allowed two hits and struck out 13 in eight innings, and the Boston Red Sox won their seventh straight, 2-0 over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night. Last Wednesday, Sale gave up seven runs in five innings against Cleveland.
"To be honest, I was flat-out embarrassed last time I was on a baseball field," Sale said. "You have some added fuel when you don't do so well your last time out. I wanted to come back and be good for this one."
He was more than just good. Sale reached double digits in strikeouts for the 15th time this season, the first time that's been done since Randy Johnson in 2002.
The win pushed Boston's AL East lead over the New York Yankees to four games.
Dustin Pedroia, back in the Boston lineup as a DH after a stint on the disabled list, scored the first run on a fielder's choice in the fourth. A bad throw by Austin Pruitt (6-3) prevented a possible inning-ending double play on Rafael Devers' chopper to the mound.
It was the only run allowed by Pruitt in his fourth major league start.
The Rays were shut out for the third time in four games. The Brewers held them scoreless on Saturday and Sunday.
"We need to find a way to win when our pitchers do so well," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "The offense is going to get going. We ran into a little buzzsaw against Milwaukee, and Chris Sale is the biggest buzzsaw."
Sale (14-4) gave up singles to Wilson Ramos in the fifth and Peter Bourjos in the sixth. The Rays did not get a runner to second base until the seventh, when Sale followed a walk to Logan Morrison with a wild pitch.
"Any pitcher can go out and dominate the first couple innings," said Jackie Bradley Jr., who drove in Boston's other run with a ninth-inning single. "He was able to do it throughout the game. That's what makes him a special pitcher."
Sale, who leads the majors with 229 strikeouts in 23 starts, has struck out at least 12 in all four of his starts against the Rays.
Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth for his 28th save.
Eduardo Nunez and Xander Bogaerts each had three of Boston's 12 hits.
Pedroia, who missed eight games with left knee inflammation, hopes to return to second base for Wednesday night's game. "We'll see tomorrow," he said after going 0-for-3 with a walk. "Hopefully I'll wake up and not have any problems. I'm just kind of getting back into it."
Red Sox: LHP David Price, on the 10-day disabled list with elbow inflammation, threw nearly 30 fastballs on Tuesday and will be re-evaluated Wednesday. ... 1B-DH Hanley Ramirez, sidelined since Friday with a sore oblique muscle, might be in the lineup Wednesday night, manager John Farrell said.
Rays: RHP Alex Cobb was placed on the 10-day disabled list with turf toe. LHP Blake Snell replaced Cobb on the roster and will pitch Thursday night against Cleveland. ... RHP Matt Andriese, on the 60-day DL with a right hip stress reaction, threw batting practice Tuesday and might make a rehab start this weekend.
RHP Rick Porcello will pitch Wednesday night against Tampa Bay's Jake Odorizzi (6-4), who missed two rotation turns due to a lower back strain. Porcello (5-14) pitched a complete game at Tropicana Field on July 8, but lost 1-0.
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