Rays hit 3 HRs, beat the Red Sox 7-3 to tighten AL East race

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Yandy Díaz, Mike Zunino and Randy Arozarena homered and the Tampa Bay Rays moved within a half-game of AL East-leading Boston with a 7-3 victory over the Red Sox in the opener of a three-game series on Friday night.

Boston has had at least a share of first-place in the division since June 28. The Red Sox or Rays have been in the top spot since April 10.

Díaz connected on a two-run drive in the first. After Wander Franco hit a two-run double in the third inning, Tampa Bay went up 6-2 in the fourth when Zunino and Arozarena had solo shots off Martín Pérez (7-7).

Christian Vázquez and Bobby Dalbec had RBI singles off Josh Fleming (8-5) in the fourth. Vázquez was thrown out trying to advance to second on his one-out hit, which impacted the inning when the next three batters, including Dalbec, reached base safely.

Kiké Hernández slammed his bat to the ground when he popped out with the bases loaded to end the fourth.

Fleming allowed three runs and eight hits over five innings. Four Rays relievers limited Boston to two hits in four scoreless innings.

Tampa Bay took a 7-3 lead in the fifth when Franco tripled and scored on a wild pitch by Yacksel Ríos.

Pérez gave up six runs and seven hits in four innings.

TOUGH WEEK

The Rays designated RHP Jake Reed for assignment, just days after his wife Janie Reed was part of the U.S. Olympic softball team that lost the gold medal game to Japan.

Janie Reed was the starting left fielder.

Jake Reed was claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers last Sunday and optioned to Triple-A Durham.

YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING

For the second consecutive game, a foul ball hit just behind the plate got stuck on an overhead structure at Tropicana Field,

Hunter Renfroe did it in the second off Fleming.

Arozarena had his foul against New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole disappear above the playing field on Thursday.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Red Sox: 3B Rafael Devers (leg) was out of the lineup. … LHP Chris Sale (Tommy John surgery) will make his fourth rehab start for Triple-A Worcester on Saturday. … RHP Hirokazu Sawamura (right triceps inflammation) returned and allowed a hit and walked two in a scoreless seventh. … INF Marwin Gonzalez (right hamstring strain) started a rehab assignment with Triple-A Worcester.

Rays: DH Nelson Cruz (bruised right foot) started after being out of the lineup the previous two days and went 2 for 5. … RHP Nick Anderson (right elbow sprain) was scheduled to join Triple-A Durham, but didn’t because of COVID-19 related issues. … RHP Collin McHugh (right arm fatigue) had a bullpen session.

UP NEXT

Boston RHP Nathan Eovaldi (9-5) and Rays LHP Ryan Yarbrough (6-4) are Saturday night’s starters.

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Mark Didtler, The Associated Press

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