BOSTON — The Tampa Bay Rays were certainly overdue for a big offensive game.
Sam Fuld went 4 for 6 with a two-run homer, drove in three runs and fell a single shy of the cycle to help the Rays bust out of an early-season slump with a 16-5 win over the Boston Red Sox on Monday night.
“That was nice to see,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “Really consistent at-bats throughout the game. We attacked pitches, sprayed the ball all around the place.”
Fuld, who grew up a self-described “big Red Sox fan” about an hour away in Durham, N.H., and Johnny Damon sparked the Rays’ slumbering offense.
“We haven’t had too many leads the whole season,” Fuld said. “I think I had a little more adrenaline playing in a park I grew up going to.”
Damon had three hits, including a solo homer, and three RBIs, and John Jaso and Reid Brignac also drove in three runs apiece for the Rays.
Losers in eight of its first nine games, Tampa Bay came in hitting a major-league worst .163 and had scored just 20 total runs, the fewest after nine games since the 2003 Detroit Tigers — a team that finished 43-119.
Fuld doubled into the left-field corner in his last at-bat in the ninth.
Maddon said many players in the dugout teased him that they would have settled for a single.
“It shows his integrity there at the end of the game,” he said. “He could have stopped at first base easily. Some guys in the dugout said they would have slid into first base.”
Damon said, “At this stage of my career, if that happened, I’m stopping.”
Jacoby Ellsbury hit a solo homer for the Red Sox.
Boston’s loss came in Carl Crawford’s first game against his former team. Crawford, who spent 12 years in the Rays’ organization before leaving to sign a $142-million, 7-year contract with the Red Sox in December, went 2 for 5, raising his average to .163.
Jeremy Hellickson (1-1) gave up two runs, five hits, walked five and struck out one in 5 1-3 innings to earn the win.
The Rays, who led for just two innings all season, jumped ahead 1-0 on Damon’s homer in the first and never trailed.
Damon, a key contributor to Boston’s 2004 World Series title team that ended an 86-year championship drought, was greeted with the usual boos he’s received since signing with the Yankees following the 2005 season. Before the noise subsided, he belted Daisuke Matsuzaka’s first pitch into the Rays’ bullpen for his second homer.
“We booed him when he got back to the dugout,” Maddon joked.
It got a lot worse for Matsuzaka (0-2) in the second — and the boos were much louder for him. Tampa Bay sent 10 batters to the plate, scoring six runs on three consecutive two-run hits after the right-hander loaded the bases with no outs. Jaso made it 3-0 with a two-run double, and Brignac drove in a pair with a single before Fuld hooked his two-run shot around the Peksy Pole in right.
“I’ve seen a lot of balls hit around that Pesky Pole on TV,” said Fuld, who said he had about 30 people in the stands to watch him and went to “about 40 or 50 games” when he was a kid.
Matsuzaka threw 10 pitches in the first — all strikes.
“There was one walk and seven balls hit right on the barrel,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “We love when guys throw strikes, but there were balls middle-middle for seven hitters.”
Matsuzaka lasted just two-plus innings, giving up seven runs on eight hits.
“I was happy with him mixing the pitches up. We didn’t just sit on one pitch. A couple of them were up over the plate that they were able to put some hits together,” Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said of Matsuzaka’s outing. “Another night he could do the same thing and they foul some off and they miss. We just have to erase this one.”
Adrian Gonzalez’s RBI triple cut it to 6-1 in the third.
The Rays added a run on Damon’s RBI single in the fourth before David Ortiz tripled and scored on J.D. Drew’s single in the bottom half.
Ortiz became the only AL player with at least one triple in each of the last 12 seasons.
Ben Zobrist’s two-run double chased reliever Tim Wakefield and made it 12-2 in the sixth.
NOTES: It was Matsuzaka’s 100th career start. … Francona said he’d like to become “somewhat consistent” with his lineup after switching fairly often during the team’s initial eight games. … Maddon said he hadn’t heard from major league baseball after his ejection in Sunday’s loss to the Chicago White Sox. He did say he saw highlights of it while he was at dinner Sunday night and said it looked like “an out of control manager” and found the video “somewhat humorous.” … Red Sox C Jason Varitek turned 39 Monday. … Damon spoke to a large press gathering before the game. “Those four years coming here as a Yankee, there was definitely a little higher stress,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been a pretty good ambassador to the game. I feel like I’m a pretty good person. A lot of people around these parts dislike me because I did play for the Yankees, that’s part of it.”