Rays Sweep Red Sox, Take 1.5-Game Lead In AL East

Shane McClanhan picked up the win Sunday night as the Rays completed a sweep of the Red Sox (Photo: Tampa Bay Rays)

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays were on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball for the first time in seven years and a national audience was treated to a tight game in which the home team hung on for a 3-2 win over the Red Sox.

The victory enabled the Rays to sweep their division rival and take a 1.5-game lead over Boston in the American League East.

“The guys put it together and played really good baseball,” said manager Kevin Cash. “There have been a lot of tight games and we played really well in order to win three (against Boston).”

Matt Wisler allowed consecutive two-out singles to Kike Hernandez and Rafael Devers before getting J.D. Martinez to fly out to right to end the game. Wisler, acquired from the Giants in June, recorded his first save with the Rays.

The Rays took a 2-0 lead in the third on a two-run homer by Brandon Lowe off Boston starter Nick Pivetta. Mike Zunino drew a two-out walk before Lowe lined a full-count pitch into the right field seats for his team-leading 23rd homer.

“We know we are not going to win every single game, but if we play like we did the last few days we will be in good shape,” said Lowe.

The Rays got what proved to be the winning run when Manuel Margot singled home Wander Franco in the fifth to make it 3-1.

Franco, who worked Garrett Whitlock for a 10-pitch at-bat in the seventh when he ripped a single to right for his second hit of the night, had two hits in each of the three games against the Red Sox.

“We are starting to see the things that make him special,” said Cash. “He is spoiling pitches and extending at-bats.”

Shane McClanahan (5-4) went six innings and allowed only one run on four hits to pick up the win. He walked two, struck out seven and threw 88 pitches, including only seven in the fifth.

“It was a great team game,” said the 24-year-old lefty. “We are very excited about the series sweep and the way everybody has been playing.”

The Rays’ nine-game homestand continues Monday night (7:10) with the first of three games against the Mariners and a quick reunion with Diego Castillo.

Tom Layberger is also a contributing writer for forbes.com and Tampa Bay Business & Wealth Magazine

Tom Layberger has been a sports writer and editor since 1990. Among the companies he has worked for are Beckett Publishing, The Topps Company and Comcast. In addition to being a contributing writer for sportstalkflorida.com, Tom also writes for forbes.com and Tampa Bay Business & Wealth Magazine. A native of the Philadelphia suburbs and a University of South Florida grad, Tom is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation. He resides in Tampa.