Franco, AL East-leading Rays win 8th in row, top Red Sox 6-1

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)The Boston Red Sox had a rough day before the game began, then the Tampa Bay Rays made it even more rugged.

Wander Franco extended his on-base streak 30 games with a two-run single, fellow rookie Luis Patino pitched neatly into the sixth inning and the AL East-leading Rays won their eighth in a row, beating Boston 6-1 Monday night.

The Red Sox had their total of players on the COVID-19 related injured list increase to four when left-hander Martin Perez and right-hander Matt Barnes were added prior to the first pitch. Infielder-outfielder Kike Hernandez and infielder Christian Arroyo were placed on it last Friday.

After the game, Boston manager Alex Cora said the team found out that reliever Josh Taylor was considered a close contact and will be quarantined. Coach Ramon Vazquez tested positive, while first base coach Ton Goodwin is also a close contact individual.

”I’m just glad that the people that tested positive, they feel OK,” Cora said. ”They’re going to be OK. The professional side of it, we just got to keep grinding.

”It’s not easy,” he said. ”It’s a lot tougher today than yesterday, and yesterday was tougher than the day before, and hopefully tomorrow we’re OK. That’s what I prayed for, for this to be the end of it and then it’s all about baseball.”

When asked if he was frustrated or angry about the situation, Cora said, ”I’m just tired.”

”To be thinking about it the whole time and to have deal with this before a game and during a game and all that, honestly that’s how I feel right now,” he said.

Boston outfielder Hunter Renfroe, placed on the bereavement list Thursday following the death of his father, could return Tuesday.

Brandon Lowe hit his career-high 31st homer on the first pitch from Boston starter Nick Pivetta, sending the Rays on their way.

Boston, which led the Rays by 1 1/2 games entering a three-game series at Tampa Bay on July 30, dropped nine game back in the division race.

Bobby Dalbec hit his 18th homer for the Red Sox, who hold a two-game lead over Oakland for the second AL wild-card spot.

Tampa Bay are 83-48 and a franchise-best 35 games over .500

The 20-year-old Franco tied Mel Ott for the fifth-longest on-base streak by a player under 21 with his hit in the eighth that made it 6-1.

The 21-year-old Patino (4-3) gave up one run and five hits in 5 2/3 innings. The right-hander was coming off a win on Aug. 21 when he held the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox to two runs over a career-high tying six innings.

”Really encouraging,” Rays manager Kevin Cash of the series-opening win. ”Luis was just outstanding. Wander picking up his hit and extending just a really impressive run he’s on.”

The Rays went up 3-1 in the fourth. Kevin Kiermaier hit a two-out double, went to third when Mike Zunino reached on a wild pitch while striking out and scored on Lowe’s high hopper over Dalbec for a single.

Hansel Robles replaced Pivetta (9-7) with two and no outs in the sixth and walked Lowe to load the bases. He ended up allowing just one run when third baseman Rafael Devers was charged with an error after misplaying Nelson Cruz’s soft broken-bat grounder.

Austin Meadows picked up his 92nd RBI on a single in the third to put the Rays up 2-1.

Dalbec tied it at 1 on his second-inning drive.

Pivetta allowed four runs and six hits in five-plus innings. He struck out six, walked five and had two wild pitches.

RESET

The Rays optioned their lone double-digit winner, LHP Josh Fleming (10-6, 5.01 ERA), to Triple-A Durham.

Fleming has allowed 16 runs over 13 ? innings in his last three outings.

”This will give him a chance to go hit the reset button, work on what’s made him good in the past,” Cash said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Red Sox: RHP Ryan Brasier (strained left calf) could be reinstated from the IL in the next few days.

Rays: OF Brett Phillips (right ankle sprain) went on the 10-day IL and is expected back when eligible on Sept. 9. . RHP J.P. Feyereisen (right shoulder discomfort) returned from the 10-day IL.

UP NEXT

Rays LHP Ryan Yarbrough (7-4) will start or follow an opener Tuesday night. Boston had not named a starter.

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