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Red Sox 8, Rays 7: Xander's slam lifts Sox out of cellar

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Xander Bogaerts packed a big punch Monday night, knocking in five of Boston's eight runs to lift them out of the AL East cellar.

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox are finally out of the AL East cellar thanks to a game-saving Grand Slam from Xander Bogaerts.

Eduardo Rodriguez' last home start of the season did not get off to a good start. The Rays jumped all over the young lefty in the first, with Brandon Guyer leading the charge by taking his second pitch of the game out of the park. Not exactly a good omen, and when the next three batters went single-double-single to leave the Sox behind 3-0, it seemed like fans were in for another one of Rodriguez' occasional disaster starts.

The reality was quite the opposite. While the Red Sox had a double play overturned on replay, Rodriguez induced a pair of pop-ups to end the inning, and then went on an absolute tear for the rest of his outing. He struck out the first two batters he faced in a scoreless second, and went 1-2-3 through the third. The fourth proved the greatest hurdle left to him, with a hit batsman and a single putting a runner in scoring position with one down, but Dustin Pedroia snagged a liner off the bat of Guyer to end the inning with no damage done.

For Chris Archer, those first three innings had been the sketchiest no-hit innings of all time. He had walked the first two batters of both the first and second innings, but double plays--one of the lucky line drive variety, the other a more typical ground ball--had kept the Red Sox from doing any damage. Even a fifth walk in the third proved no more productive.

The fourth would be the first time he avoided the free pass, and also the first time he allowed a run, with Brock Holt hitting a single back up the middle to score Travis Shaw from third after the first baseman had broken up the no-hitter with a double off of James Loney's glove.

The Red Sox still trailed by two, and while Eduardo Rodriguez was now rolling, he still only managed to last through six innings, earning a quality start, but leaving the game in the hands of the pen with the Red Sox still trailing. For once, though, the Red Sox would come out on top in the battle of the bullpens, albeit not for a lack of trying from Boston's woeful relievers.

Heath Hembree barely survived a bases-loaded situation in the seventh thanks to the Rays running into an out and Tommy Layne coming up with a clutch ground ball to escape the jam. But however shaky the inning was, it was scoreless all the same, leaving the Sox still in striking range in the bottom half. And strike they did. Alex Colome entered the game to start the frame, and had one hell of a time getting his first out, surrendering base hits to both Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia before Xander Bogaerts knocked in a run with a double high off the Monster, just missing a three-run shot. Pedroia came in to score on a ground ball from David Ortiz, and Travis Shaw's sacrifice fly was good to make it a 4-3 Red Sox lead.

Tommy Layne would return for the eighth, surrendering a single and getting a ground out from Kevin Kiermaier before Alexi Ogando entered the game to, well, seemingly give it away. Another ugly performance from Ogando saw all four Rays who faced him reach base, with John Jaso, Brandon Guyer, Grady Sizemore going walk - single - two-run double before Ogando was finally pulled after intentionally walking Evan Longoria. Jean Machi wasn't able to completely bail Ogando out, but allowed just a sacrifice fly in getting the third out.

Still, the Sox now trailed 6-4, and weren't in great position to mount a rally when Brock Holt and Ryan Hanigan struck out to start the bottom of the eighth. But that's when things got out of control. Jackie Bradley Jr. was hit by the first pitch Xavier Cedeno threw him, spelling an end to Cedeno's night and a beginning to Brandon Gomes'. Gomes quickly gave up back-to-back singles to Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia on just three total pitches, bringing Xander Bogaerts to bat with the bases loaded. Working down and away from Xander, Gomes built the count to 2-2 before leaving a slider over the plate, albeit down at the knees. Going down to get the pitch with a big golf swing, Bogaerts cleared the wall down the left field line, bouncing a grand slam off the billboard over the Monster to put the Red Sox ahead 8-6.

There were still three outs to go, and Robbie Ross Jr. didn't make it completely easy, surrendering a home run to Richie Shaffer with one down. But Tim Beckham grounded out, and Ross got Steven Souza Jr. to whiff on a fastball to give the Red Sox the win, lifting them out of the cellar and into fourth place in the AL East. Not a desirable position, but better than any they've had in a long while.