Karns struggles as Rays' rally falls short vs. Red Sox

Karns struggles as Rays' rally falls short vs. Red Sox

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Red Sox scored early on Saturday and then added runs late to put a 9-6 win over the Rays on ice at Charlotte Sports Park.
The Red Sox jumped to a 6-0 lead, only to see that lead get cut to one run due to a costly error. But they scored once in the sixth and two times in the ninth before dodging a bases-loaded jam in the ninth en route to the win.

Nathan Karns started for the Rays and got into some early trouble after he walked the leadoff batter, Shane Victorino.

Brock Holt followed with a single before David Ortiz's bloop single scored Victorino. Hanley Ramirez's sacrifice fly brought home Holt for a 2-0 Red Sox lead in the first.

After retiring the Red Sox in order in the second, Karns found trouble again in the third when Ramirez doubled home one run and Mike Napoli added a two-run homer to put the Red Sox up 5-0.

Hanley's RBI double

Victorino's RBI single in the fourth gave the Red Sox their six-run cushion, while right-hander Steven Wright held the Rays scoreless and hitless through three innings.

Karns, who will be the Rays' No. 3 starter at the beginning of the season, allowed six runs on five hits and three walks while striking out three in four innings.

"My command was a little bit off," Karns said. "I fell behind a lot and these guys took advantage of that when I was really trying to make pitches. They were able to have the count in their favor."

Evan Longoria broke Wright's spell with a one-out single in the fourth. Wright would have escaped trouble and posted another scoreless inning, but shortstop Xander Bogaerts booted Desmond Jennings' ground ball that would have been the third out. The error led to a Rays uprising.

Brandon Guyer, Logan Forsythe and Curt Casali followed with RBI singles and Steven Souza Jr. singled home two to cut the lead to 6-5.

Rays score five in the 4th

None of the five runs scored against Wright were earned. He allowed five hits and three walks while striking out three in 3 2/3 innings.

Jemile Weeks doubled off Brandon Gomes in the sixth to drive home Ryan Hanigan to put the Red Sox up 7-5. Gomes had not allowed a run in his previous seven outings of the spring.

The Red Sox would add two more runs in the ninth inning on RBI doubles by Jeff Bianchi and Quintin Berry.

The Rays would get a run in the bottom of the inning on a Juan Francisco hit by pitch with the bases loaded to bring the potential winning run to the plate with two outs, but Joey Butler grounded out to shortstop to end the game.

Up next: Rays manager Kevin Cash will empty out the bullpen on Sunday afternoon when the Rays travel to Fort Myers to play the Red Sox in a 1:05 p.m. ET contest, which you can watch live on MLB.TV. Brad Boxberger is scheduled to start and will be followed by Grant Balfour, Ernesto Frieri, and Kirby Yates. Brian Johnson is slated to start for the Red Sox.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.