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Ortiz hits 23rd homer, Red Sox beat Rays

Brian Blanco | AP
Brian Blanco | AP
Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury stretches out before the start of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Friday, July 13, 2012, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Red Sox have activated Ellsbury from the disabled list and inserted him into their starting lineup Friday. He had a hit in five plate appearances and the Red Sox went on to win 3-1.
The Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — David Ortiz and hot-hitting Pedro Ciriaco helped set what Boston hopes will be a good tone for the rest of the season.

Ortiz homered, Ciriaco had three hits and drove in two runs, and the Red Sox got a strong pitching performance from Franklin Morales and five relievers in Friday night’s 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

“It’s nice,” said right-hander Matt Albers, who struck out three of the four batters he faced. “That first game out of the break, against our division rival.”

Morales (2-2) allowed two hits over five scoreless innings to win for the second time since the left-hander was moved into the starting rotation last month. He walked three and struck out five before being replaced by Scott Atchison, who yielded an unearned run in the sixth.

“It was nine innings of really good pitching,” Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. “Franklin Morales gave us five really strong innings. Put up the zeros.”

Ortiz hit a solo homer off Jeremy Hellickson (4-6) in the first inning to extend his hitting streak to a season-best eight games.

Ciriaco has started four games since his promotion from the minor leagues last week and is 10 for 12 with six RBIs over the past three, including a two-run single that made it 3-0 in the second inning.

“He blooped a couple more in there, made a good bunt, stole a base,” Valentine said. He’s playing a very high caliber baseball.”

The infielder’s success may be catching some off guard, but not Ortiz.

“He showed everybody what he could do in spring training,” the All-Star slugger said. “Having him here and doing what he’s doing, I’m not surprised.”

The fourth-place Red Sox lost six of seven games entering the All-Star break. But with the win before a crowd of 29,089 at Tropicana Field, they pulled within one game of the third-place Rays in the AL East standings.

Ortiz is hitting .440 (11 for 25) with 10 walks during his hitting streak. The Rays walked him intentionally twice, once to load the bases before Mauro Gomez grounded into an inning-ending double play in the seventh.

Sean Rodriguez drove in Tampa Bay’s run with a sixth-inning double off Atchison. The hit scored Ben Zobrist, who reached on shortstop Mike Aviles’ two-base throwing error.

The Rays went 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position. And, one of those hits was a sixth-inning infield single that didn’t drive in a run.

Hellickson, the 2011 AL rookie of the year, has dropped six consecutive decisions following a 4-0 start. The right-hander allowed three runs and five hits over six innings.

Rays manager Joe Maddon felt his young pitcher performed well enough to win. The 25-year-old gave up the homer to Ortiz on a poor 3-1 pitch, and Ciriaco drove in Boston’s other runs with a bases-loaded grounder that Hellickson was surprised made it through to center field.

“He pitched well. We just didn’t score enough runs to make him look good. … When you only score one run, your mistakes are glaring,” Maddon said.

Alfredo Aceves pitched a perfect ninth for Boston, earning his 20th save in 24 opportunities. Jacoby Ellsbury, activated from the disabled list before the game, went 1 for 5 in his first action since hurting his right shoulder on April 13 while trying to break up a double play.

First baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who left Boston’s final game before the break because of illness, remained out of the lineup. His replacement, Gomez, went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and was charged with a first-inning error when a throw from third baseman Will Middlebrooks appeared to tear through the webbing of Gomez’s glove.

Gomez changed gloves, and Morales escaped a jam with runners at first and third when Tampa Bay’s B.J. Upton was caught trying to steal second.

The Red Sox starter also worked through tight spots in the fourth and fifth without allowing a run. He walked three straight batters to load the bases with two outs in the fourth, then struck out Luke Scott. Jose Lobaton doubled for Tampa Bay’s second hit with one out in the fifth but was stranded there when Morales fanned Elliot Johnson and Carlos Pena.

The Rays wasted another good opportunity after Zobrist doubled leading off the eighth against Vicente Padilla. B.J. Upton hit a sinking liner that Ryan Sweeney went to his knee to catch in right field, and Zobrist ran his team out of a potential big inning when he was thrown out after tagging up and trying to advance to third.

Sweeney threw to cutoff man Aviles, who turned and made a perfect relay to third baseman Nick Punto.

“Ryan Sweeney’s play has to be the play of the game,” Valentine said. “With Mike’s throw and Nick’s tag, that’s a game saver right there.”

NOTES: The Rays batted .232 as a team before the All-Star break, lowest in team history. They are one of eight teams all-time that have hit as low as that while also reaching the break with a winning record. … Boston 2B Dustin Pedroia (right thumb) is taking batting practice. … Red Sox RHP Clay Buchholz, Saturday’s scheduled starter, will be making his first appearance since being sidelined by a stomach illness on June 20. … Clemson 3B Richie Shaffer, the 25th pick of last month’s amateur draft, agreed to a contract with the Rays for a signing bonus of $1.71 million. … Boston RHP Andrew Bailey (right thumb surgery) has started throwing off a mound. … Valentine said LF Carl Crawford (left wrist surgery, groin strain), currently playing at Triple-A Pawtucket, is getting closer to rejoining the team.

YANKEES 6, ANGELS 5: Mark Teixeira homered twice and drove in five runs, Russell Martin hit a go-ahead single and the New York Yankees overcame yet another homer by Mark Trumbo to rally past the Los Angeles Angels 6-5 Friday night in New York.

Teixeira’s three-run shot and Martin’s two-out single in the eighth inning overcame the Angels’ 5-2 edge.

Trumbo homered in his fifth straight game against the Yankees. His three-run shot in the seventh made him the first Yankees opponent to homer five games in a row since Albert Belle in 1994, STATS LLC said.

Howie Kendrick was thrown out at second base to end the game. He tried to advance when a pitch from Rafael Soriano bounced away, but Martin made a strong peg for the final out.

The Yankees, with the best record in the majors, broke loose after C.J. Wilson was pulled following a sharp seven-inning start.

Scott Downs (1-1) relieved to begin the eighth with an 0.30 ERA this season. Derek Jeter led off with a double, Curtis Granderson walked and Teixeira hit the first homer off Downs this year.

Teixeira’s tying shot was his 17th home run — he has 36 career multihomer games, three this season.

Downs retired the next two batters and left after walking Nick Swisher. Kevin Jepsen relieved and, after pinch-runner Dewayne Wise stole second and pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez was intentionally walked, Martin sliced a single to right. Martin ended an 0-for-30 slump last Saturday in his last game before the All-Star break.

Soriano wound up with his 21st save in 22 chances. Chad Qualls (1-0) got his first win with the Yankees.

Trumbo was picked by Yankees star Robinson Cano for the home run derby in Kansas City this week and finished among the leaders. The Angels slugger did equally fine on a humid evening in the Bronx, sending a shot into the left-center field bleachers against Hiroki Kuroda for a 4-2 lead.

Trumbo nearly hit another homer, but Swisher made a leaping catch at the top of the right-field wall in the eighth. Trumbo is 11 for 22 with five homers and 10 RBIs against New York this season.

Albert Pujols singled to start the Angels’ seventh-inning rally, then hit a ground-rule double in the eighth that made it 5-2. He stumbled coming around first base and hobbled into second, prompting Angels manager Mike Scioscia and a trainer to check on him. Pujols stayed in the game.

Angels rookie Mike Trout, leading the league in hitting and steals, doubled and singled, stole two bases and scored a run.

A prep star in New Jersey who worked out for scouts at the old and new Yankee Stadium, Trout’s favorite player growing up was Jeter. They ate lunch together at the All-Star game, and Jeter made Trout’s family and friends feel welcome in the 20-year-old’s first game at the ballpark — the 20-plus members of the Trout rooting section sat in Jeter’s suite.

Erick Aybar also homered for the Angels.

NOTES: Jeter has scored 1,818 runs, two more than Carl Yastrzemski for 16th place on the career list. … Cano extended his hitting streak to a season-high 16 games. … Yankees LHP CC Sabathia (strained left groin) threw a simulated game. If he’s OK, he’ll start Tuesday night vs. Toronto. Asked his goal for the second half, the ace said: “Stay healthy.” … Yankees LHP Andy Pettitte (broken left leg) rejoined the team after recuperating at home in Texas. He’s targeting Sept. 1 to be back in the rotation. … Yankees OF Brett Gardner (right elbow) is ready to swing in a simulated game Sunday. … Angels RHP Dan Haren (stiff back) had a bullpen session Thursday and is set for another one Saturday.

TIGERS 7, ORIOLES 2: Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta homered, Doug Fister pitched seven innings of three-hit ball, and the Detroit Tigers beat the Baltimore Orioles 7-2 on Friday night in Baltimore for their sixth straight victory.

Brennan Boesh had two RBIs for the Tigers, who moved three games over .500 (45-42) for the first time since April 24, when they were 10-7.

Cabrera hit his 19th home run in the fifth inning, a majestic drive to center off Luis Ayala that traveled an estimated 454 feet and provided Detroit with a 4-1 lead. Four batters later, Peralta hit a three-run, opposite-field shot to right off Dana Eveland.

Fister (3-6) gave up one run, struck out eight and walked none to earn his first road win in seven tries this season. Fister, who retired 12 straight at one point, has won two straight starts after dropping three in a row.

Detroit’s Delmon Young had two hits and scored a run, but his streak of games with at least one home run ended at four, one short of the club record.

Orioles starter Jason Hammel (8-6) left in the fourth inning with a right knee injury. After throwing a pitch to Boesh, Hammel came off the mound awkwardly. He took a few practice throws before being removed by manager Buck Showalter.

It’s the same knee that has been bothering Hammel for much of the season, and the Orioles can only hope the right-hander won’t miss much time. Hammel, Baltimore’s winningest pitcher, allowed two runs and five hits in three-plus innings. He has lost his last four starts.

Like Hammel, Baltimore is experiencing a substantial drop off following a surprisingly strong start. The Orioles have lost seven of 10 and are 6-14 in their last 20 games.

Sidelined with a wrist injury since May 29, Baltimore’s Nick Markakis returned to the lineup and hit in the leadoff spot for the first time in his career. He went 1 for 4 with a third-inning RBI.

Baltimore scored its other run in the ninth when All-Star Matt Wieters doubled in All-Star Adam Jones.

With Markakis back in right field, Chris Davis played left field in the majors for the first time. Showalter said he was willing to take the risk because Davis “makes up for it with his bat.”

Davis didn’t make an error, but he didn’t get a hit, either.

The Tigers averaged 6.2 runs in the five games before the All-Star break, and in the first inning it became apparent that the four-day layoff did nothing to hamper their productivity. Three of the first four Detroit batters singled to load the bases, and a two-out single by Boesh made it 2-0.

Baltimore ended the season’s first half by being shut out in consecutive games by the Angels, and the Orioles’ run of consecutive scoreless innings stretched to 24 until doubles by Wilson Betemit and Markakis made it 2-1 in the third.

After Hammel left in the fourth, Ayala retired the first two batters before giving up successive doubles to Alex Avila and Ryan Raburn.

NOTES: The Orioles activated OF Endy Chavez (hamstring) from the 15-day DL. OF Xavier Avery was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on Thursday. … The Tigers recalled INF Danny Worth from Triple-A Toledo. RHP Jose Ortega was optioned to Toledo on Sunday. … Showalter says 2B Brian Roberts is still weighing his options on how to deal with a groin injury that put him on the DL on July 3. One of those options is surgery. “It’s a challenging decision for him,” Showalter said. … The Orioles agreed to terms with LSU pitcher Kevin Gausman, the No. 4 overall pick in the draft. He received a standing ovation after the third inning.

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