ST. PETERSBURG -- The Red Sox stormed to their eighth consecutive win Wednesday night, riding a quality start from Rick Porcello, timely hitting and sloppy play by the Rays for an 8-2 win at Tropicana Field.
"We seem to be firing on all cylinders," said Porcello, who turned in the Majors' eighth immaculate inning this season. "Chris [Sale] pitched a [heck] of a game [Tuesday] and got us the win there. Tonight, we came out and scored some runs. The bullpen came in and did a heck of a job, so that's kind of the recipe for us. We have to continue to do that."
The American League East-leading Red Sox (65-49) maintained their four-game lead over the Yankees, who defeated Toronto, 11-5, on Wednesday night. Tampa Bay (58-57) is now 7 1/2 games behind Boston and are one-game back of Seattle for the second AL Wild Card spot.
The Red Sox took a 1-0 lead in the third after Andrew Benintendi scored when Rays starter Jake Odorizzi dropped a toss while covering first base for what would have been the inning's third out.
Odorizzi had to leave the game when Eduardo Nunez lined a single off the right-hander's right foot to start the fifth. X-rays were negative and Odorizzi is day to day with a bruised right foot. Nunez finished with two hits in five at-bats, giving him 21 hits in his first 11 games -- the most by a Red Sox player after his first 11 games with the club.
"It's going to be all right," said Odorizzi. "It just got some nerves in there, more so than bone. Bones are fine. So that's all the matters. It was right below my ankle and above the bottom of my foot. Flush, but the bones are good. I guess I've got that."
Dan Jennings took over for Odorizzi, and the Rays' plight went from bad to worse.
"I thought we ran the bases exceptionally well in the fifth inning," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "We were able to move up 90 feet. And the key to the inning actually was Hanley [Ramirez], where he kept us from getting into a double play. He stayed in the rundown long enough for Brock [Holt] to advance to second base, and then a couple of balls get by [Wilson] Ramos that we are able to capitalize on."
Porcello cruised through Tampa Bay's lineup through five innings in dominating fashion, including a fifth inning that saw him strike out the side on nine pitches. After he allowed solo homers to Adeiny Hechavarria and Brad Miller in the sixth, Porcello exited after allowing the first two Rays to reach base in the seventh.
"A little more of the same," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Obviously, the offense was quiet. You know, we probably got a little sloppy today. But at the end of the day, if we're not going to put runs up, it's going to be tough to win."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Timely DP: The Rays trailed, 6-2, entering the bottom of the seventh when Steven Souza Jr. singled to start the inning. Porcello then walked Trevor Plouffe, which prompted Farrell to bring in Matt Barnes to face Ramos. Tampa Bay's catcher quickly bounced into a 6-4-3 double play, moving Souza to third and effectively diffusing the rally. Mallex Smith grounded out to end the inning.
Leon's single: The Red Sox had already scored three times in the sixth when Leon stepped to the plate to face Jennings with two outs and runners on second and third. Leon promptly laced a 1-2 fastball to left field to drive home both runners and put the game on ice at 6-0.
"We've continued to pitch consistently, and that will be the key for us. The way that our starters are now stringing some games together, the run the bullpen has been on for really all year, and more so currently. We set the tone from the mound, and we're going to have to continue to do that as we go into this next series." -- Farrell, on what Boston has done well on its eight-game win streak and as it prepares to face the Yanks on Friday
"Just a win. Winning usually cures just about everything. If we can get a good series against Cleveland -- they're a really good team, they're hot right now. Seems like the teams we're playing are hot. And we're not. I wouldn't say we're really cold. Just having a tough time." -- Odorizzi, on what it's going to take for the Rays to snap out of their funk
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Miller hit his fifth career home run against Porcello, his most against any pitcher. Miller is hitting .313 with three doubles, five homers and nine RBIs against the Red Sox right-hander.
WHAT'S NEXT Red Sox: The Red Sox resume their rivalry with the Yankees in New York on Friday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Eduardo Rodriguez (4-3, 4.08 ERA) pitches for Boston, coming off a six-inning outing of four hits and two runs against Kansas City. The lefty has not faced the Yankees in 2017, but last season, he posted a 3.31 ERA over 16 1/3 innings in three starts.
Rays:Blake Snell (0-6, 4.98 ERA) gets the nod on Thursday when the Rays open a four-game series against the Indians in a 7:10 p.m. ET contest at Tropicana Field. Snell is seeking his first Major League win since Sept. 22 against the Yankees.