Manager John Farrell deployed four relievers for the final nine outs, capped by a third straight dominant outing by closer Craig Kimbrel in a 4-3 triumph over the Rays on Marathon Monday.
Though roles are still evolving with the setup crew, Farrell again pushed the right buttons. Meanwhile, Kimbrel's role hasn't evolved at all, nor does it need to. The hard-throwing righty was perfect the last three days, retiring all nine batters he faced while striking out eight and picking up three saves.
"Once he proclaimed himself available today, there was no hesitation to go to him in the ninth inning," said Farrell. "He's probably in the best spot he's been in from a delivery standpoint in the year-plus that he's been here."
"It was awesome," said Andrew Benintendi, who led the offense with three hits and two RBIs. "I felt like the energy in the stadium was really high. It was an early game, but it was awesome to come out there and everybody kind of just united around one another. It's awesome."
"He gives up the early runs, then he does a nice job," said Rays manager Kevin Cash. "He made some big pitches to get out of some innings. We had guys on base and runners on. It seemed like he quieted us pretty good once we got a guy on base."
The Red Sox did most of their damage offensively in a three-run second, capitalizing on an error by second baseman Brad Miller that should have been the third out of the inning.
"It's not the first time I've thrown three days in a row. It might be the first time in a while, but I was focused on pitching and I'll worry about how I feel tomorrow," said Kimbrel.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Miller drop haunts Rays: It looked like Blake Snell was on his way to an uneventful second inning that was about to end when Marco Hernandez hit a grounder to short. But that all changed when Miller dropped the routine feed from Tim Beckham for an error. The Red Sox went on to score three unearned runs in the frame, and Snell wound up throwing an extra 24 pitches.
"You've got to play well to win. Especially on the road. Especially in this division. We didn't play well enough to win," Miller said.
Ross, Taylor protect lead in 7th: After a double by Corey Dickerson, the Rays had runners at second and third with nobody out in the seventh, trailing, 4-2. Ross Jr. helped minimize the damage by striking out two. Taylor, recalled prior to the game, allowed an RBI single to left by Steven Souza Jr. to make it a one-run game. But the righty got the out he needed with a bases loaded and two outs, retiring Logan Morrison on a flyout to right.
"Just trying to go in there and get the quickest outs I could," said Ross. "In that situation, it was, like, Steven battled his tail off, so now it's time to come in and try to shut it down."
"Yeah, it definitely was a little different waking up at 7:30 in the morning. It was fun. It was a great atmosphere. I think any time you go out in Fenway when it is sold out, it doesn't matter what time it is, it's really easy to get up for these games." -- Wright on the early start time
"It hurts, but look, we've got to overcome it. We're going to make errors and that's part of it. But, we have to overcome it, You don't look at it as an error made and three runs crossing the plate because of that. Each at bat is separate in its own and we didn't get guys out after that." -- Cash, on the second inning
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Red Sox have been a dominant team in the daytime at Fenway of late, going 21-3 over their last 24 home day games dating back to May 14, 2016.
WHAT'S NEXT Rays: Right-hander Matt Andriese will be the first Rays pitcher to toe the rubber versus a non-AL East club this season when he starts on Tuesday vs. the Tigers at 7:10 p.m. ET. He was strong in his last outing, allowing just one run over six innings versus the Yankees, doing well to work his way out of jams in the process.
Red Sox: With lefty Eduardo Rodriguez on paternity leave, fellow southpaw Brian Johnson will be recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket to start Tuesday's 7:07 p.m. ET contest in Toronto. This will be Johnson's second Major League start. His debut was on July 21, 2015, at Houston.