ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – Japanese right-handers Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara barred the door on Sunday afternoon with a pair of scoreless innings to lock down the Boston Red Sox’s 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays that ended the Rays’ nine-game winning streak.
Tazawa, who blew a seventh-inning lead in Friday’s loss at Tropicana Field, put on a clinic with pin-point command of his fastball, splitter and slider. After the first batter was retired trying to bunt his way on, Tazawa struck out the next two on seven pitches.
“I feel I was able to execute my pitches,” Tazawa said. “My arm action was the best it’s been recently. Because my fastball was so good, my breaking pitches were effective.”
Uehara followed in the ninth and was not nearly as sharp but still got strikes when he needed them with his 143-kph fastball and his trademark splitter to register his 21st save of the season and help snap a five-game losing skid.
“My fastball was good and I could miss bats with it,” said the 39-year-old who recently pitched in his first major league All-Star Game. “The team is not doing well, but a win will bring a smile to your face.
“But should we continue struggling like we have been, it’s going to get old.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell stated the obvious about Tazawa’s stellar outing.
“Today might’ve been the best stuff he (Tazawa) had all year,” Farrell said according to MLB.com. “There was conviction to every pitch he threw. I think the other night might’ve been the result of too many days down, four days off, but he was outstanding. Good command, power to his stuff, good split, good breaking ball. He was very good. The bullpen, to record (11) outs, they did an outstanding job.”
All the scoring came in the second inning, when the Red Sox got a three-run, third-inning home run from David Ortiz and were answered by a two-run Desmond Jennings double in the home half.
Starting pitcher Chris Archer said he didn’t appreciate Ortiz staring him down and flipping his bat before beginning his home run trot.
“He’s not the right guy to be saying that, I don’t think,” Ortiz said.
“He’s got two days in the league,” the slugger said, adding a couple of expletives.
The win was the first of the season for the Red Sox at Tropicana Field, where they had lost five straight. Dustin Pedroia and Daniel Nava had two hits each for Boston, which did not have a hit over the last five innings.
The Rays’ nine-game winning streak was their longest in 10 years and the second-longest in franchise history.
Blue Jays 5, Yankees 4
In New York, Dioner Navarro hit a go-ahead single with two outs in the ninth as Toronto rallied after wasting three leads for its first series win in the Bronx since Aug. 27-29, 2012.
The Blue Jays’ Munenori Kawasaki finished 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Ichiro Suzuki was 0-for-1 in a pinch-hit appearance for New York.
Twins 4, White Sox 3
In Minneapolis, Sam Fuld hit a tiebreaking, two-run single off Javy Guerra in a three-run seventh as the Twins avoided a four-game sweep.
Indians 10, Royals 3
In Kansas City, Carlos Santana hit a pair of two-run homers, giving him six homers in six games as Cleveland ended the Royals’ win streak at five games.
Norichika Aoki finished 2-for-4 for Kansas City.
Angels 2, Tigers 1
In Anaheim, David Freese hit a tiebreaking homer off Joba Chamberlain in the eighth inning.
Orioles 3, Mariners 2 (10)
In Seattle, Manny Machado lifted a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the 10th off Yoervis Medina, who was pitching on his 26th birthday.
Athletics 9, Rangers 3
In Arlington, Texas, John Jaso drove in three runs, helping Scott Kazmir and Oakland beat the Rangers.
Marlins 4, Astros 2
In Houston, Garrett Jones and Marcell Ozuna homered for Miami, which completed a three game sweep.
Dodgers 4, Giants 3
In San Francisco, Carl Crawford hit an RBI triple to back Ryu Hyun-jin’s third straight victory.
Phillies 4, Diamondbacks 2
In Philadelphia, Ryan Howard homered in his second game since a three-game benching and scored the go-ahead run on an overturned call at the plate.
Nationals 4, Reds 2
In Cincinnati, Doug Fister allowed three hits in seven shutout innings and Adam LaRoche drove in two runs.
Mets 2, Brewers 0
In Milwaukee, Lucas Duda hit a two-run homer in the sixth off Jimmy Nelson.
Cardinals 1, Cubs 0
In Chicago, Adam Wainwright allowed five hits in seven innings and Matt Holliday homered.
Braves 8, Padres 3
In Atlanta, Chris Johnson and Ryan Doumit each drove in two runs.
Pirates 7, Rockies 5
In Denver, Josh Harrison had four hits, including an eighth-inning homer.