ST.PETERBURG, Fla. — The Boston Red Sox are showing Tampa Bay how far the Rays have to climb after a last-place season.
Dustin Pedroia hit his fourth career grand slam to help Rick Porcello get his major league-leading 22nd win, and the Red Sox clinched a playoff berth by beating the Rays 6-4 Saturday night for their 10th consecutive win.
“They’re definitely the team to beat right now, in my eyes,” Danny Farquhar said after allowing Pedroia’s home run.
Boston maintained a 5½-game lead over Toronto for the division title and ensured no worse than the AL’s second wild card. The Rays dropped 24 games under .500 for the first since the end of the 2007 season.
Tampa Bay went 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
“To play with these guys, you’ve got to capitalize on those opportunities because you know they’re going to score their runs,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
Tampa Bay threatened in the second but failed to score due to two nice defensive plays. Pedroia made a throw from just in front of the outfield grass at second base on Mikie Mahtook’s grounder to get Corey Dickerson at the plate. Third baseman Brock Holt made a solid play along the line on Alexei Ramirez’s grounder and threw him out at first to end the inning.
Pedroia stopped an 0-for-17 skid with a single in the sixth and gave Boston a 6-3 lead with a seventh-inning drive. He hit several foul balls, including one off his toe before going deep.
“You can see why he’s as good as he is because he fought off some good pitches and got his pitch and crushed it,” Farquhar said of a changeup.
Porcello (22-4) gave up three runs, eight hits and struck out nine over 6 1/3 innings.
Craig Kimbrel, the fifth Boston reliever, reached 30 saves for the sixth straight season despite allowing Logan Forsythe’s solo homer in the ninth. Ryan Garton (1-2) was the loser.
Brad Miller hit a two-run double in a three-run second that put Tampa Bay up 3-1 and gave him 80 RBIs.
RAYS: DH Nick Franklin (left hamstring) was in the lineup for the first time since Sept. 15. He did pinch hit twice in-between.
HONORING BIG PAPI
The Rays will honor Red Sox DH David Ortiz in a pregame ceremony Sunday before his final game at Tropicana Field. He will be just the fourth visiting player to be honored, joining Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Cal Ripken Jr.
With the Rays trailing 6-3 in the eighth, Dickerson hit a leadoff double but later was thrown trying to advance a base when a pitch got away from Boston catcher Sandy Leon. “Just being over-aggressive,” Cash said. “He knows the situation, he knows we’re down by three. Like we’ve said quite a few times this year, we’re not good enough to overcome those mistakes.”
Red Sox LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (3-7) will go against Rays RHP Jake Odorizzi (9-6) in Sunday’s series finale.