ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Randy Arozarena, rookie Wander Franco and the Tampa Bay Rays won their ninth straight game, breaking away from Boston 8-5 Tuesday night soon after Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts was pulled because of a positive COVID-19 test.
Bogaerts hit an RBI single in the first inning, but the star was replaced defensively in the second.
“Boggie is such a consistent presence," Red Sox slugger Kyle Schwarber said. "It’s unfortunate. I think your biggest concern is just the health of the individuals. This is no joke.”
It was announced before the game that Boston reliever Hirokazu Sawamura tested positive as a virus surge that started last week continues having a daily impact on the playoff-contending Red Sox.
Franco and Austin Meadows had RBI singles and Yandy Díaz hit a two-run double during a six-run third for the Rays, who are a franchise-best 36 games over .500 at 84-48.
“Very happy with the way that we're playing.” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. “The guys deserve a lot of credit to get to this point. We've played five months of good baseball, let's play a sixth month.”
Franco has a 31-game on-base streak, which is the fifth-longest by a player under 21. Meadows has 93 RBIs.
“Everything he's done, we're just kind of in awe,” Cash said of Franco.
Arozarena homered in the second for the AL East leaders.
“The offense has been there,” Díaz said through a translator. “Hopefully it can continue on so we continue to keep winning some games.”
Schwarber, who hit a solo homer in the sixth, and J.D. Martinez had RBI singles in the ninth off Dietrich Enns that got Boston within 8-5.
“We didn't stop playing, which is good,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “We were one swing away from tying that game.”
The Red Sox, 20-23 since the All-Star break, have a one-game advantage over Oakland for the second AL wildcard.
“We know where we're at,” Cora said. “I do feel that we still can compete and still make it to the playoffs.”
Andrew Kittredge replaced Enns and struck out pinch-hitter Travis Shaw and Rafael Devers with two on to get his fifth save.
Devers picked up his 97th RBI with an eighth-inning single as Boston outhit the Rays 10-5.
Red Sox left-hander Martín Pérez and right-hander Matt Barnes were added to the COVID-19 IL on Monday. Also, reliever Josh Taylor and first base coach Tom Goodwin were identified as close contacts, and quality control coach Ramón Vázquez tested positive.
Boston infielder-outfielder Kiké Hernández and infielder Christian Arroyo were placed on COVID-19 IL last Friday.
Ryan Yarbrough (8-4) allowed two runs and five hits in six innings.
Brad Peacock (0-1), acquired from Cleveland Monday for cash, started for the beleaguered Boston pitching staff and gave up five runs, two hits, two walks and hit a batter over 2 1/3 innings in his first big league appearance since last Sept. 10 with Houston.
The Rays are expected to recall veteran reliever David Robertson from Triple-A Durham on Wednesday. The 36-year old was part of the silver medal-winning United States baseball team at this year’s Tokyo Olympics. Robertson last pitched in the majors on Apr. 14, 2019 with Philadelphia and had Tommy John surgery later in the year.
Red Sox: OF Hunter Renfroe (bereavement list) returned and had two doubles in five at-bats. … OF Danny Santana (left groin strain) hit a two-run homer in four at-bats in what was expected to be his final rehab game with Double-A Portland. Cora said Santana and RHP Ryan Brasier (left calf strain) will likely be added to the roster Wednesday when rosters are expanded from 26 to 28.
Rays: 1B Ji-Man Choi (strained left hamstring) had a light on-field workout.
Boston LHP Chris Sale (3-0. 2.35 ERA) will make his fourth start Wednesday night since returning from Tommy John surgery. The Rays will counter with RHP Drew Rasmussen (1-1, 3.46 ERA).
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