ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- David Ortiz hit his 23rd homer and Pedro Ciriaco had three hits and drove in two runs Friday night, helping the Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1.
Franklin 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. The left-hander walked three and struck out five before being replaced by Scott Atchison, who yielded an unearned run in the sixth.
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.
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 drove in Ben Zobrist, who reached on shortstop Mike Aviles’ two-base
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.
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.