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Rays struggle at plate in 5th straight loss

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BOSTON (AP) — On a night Tampa Bay and Boston got along on the field, the Rays were punchless at the plate.

Rubby De La Rosa pitched seven shutout innings in his first big league start in nearly three years, Brock Holt hit his first career homer and the Red Sox won their sixth straight with a 7-1 victory over the Rays on Saturday.

It was the fifth straight loss for the slumping Rays, who are off to their worst start since 2007 when they finished 30 games under .500.

Tampa Bay has scored two or fewer runs in eight of its last 13 games, losing seven of those.

“We’re not swinging the bats great, but their pitcher was outstanding,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “You’ve got to give him a lot of credit. High velocity fastball with a Bugs Bunny changeup, great command of everything. He was outstanding. You could bemoan whatever, but he was good.”

The Rays have been held to three runs in the first two games of this weekend series against Boston. They own the AL’s worst record at 23-33.

Rays starter Jake Odorizzi (2-5) lasted just 3 1-3 innings, giving up five runs and six hits with two wild pitches.

De La Rosa (1-0) was in control most of his time out there.

“I think he was changing speeds good, throwing strikes,” Tampa Bay first baseman James Loney said. “I just think he had good stuff tonight. I think he was throwing a lot of strikes and changing speeds good.”

The teams kept it clean a day after having their second benches-clearing scrum in less than a week.

“It was really nice to go out there and not be concerned with a bunch of garbage and just play the game,” Maddon said. “I was pleased with that a lot. I thought it was a well-played game.”

Holt and Jackie Bradley Jr. each hit two-run homers, and Jonathan Herrera had three singles as the Red Sox continued to rebound from a recent 10-game losing streak.

De La Rosa, recalled earlier in the day from Triple-A Pawtucket, made his first start for the Red Sox. He allowed four hits, striking out eight without issuing a walk in his first start since July 31, 2011, when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The 25-year old right-hander was acquired in Boston’s salary-dump deal in August 2012 that sent Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers.

Kevin Kiermaier had an inside the park homer for the Rays, who have lost five straight. It came when Bradley Jr. attempted a leaping grab and the ball caromed off the Green Monster, off his face and rolled away as he was down on the ground.

There was no carry-over from Friday night’s game, when three Red Sox managers and a pitcher were ejected after Rays starter David Price hit David Ortiz in the first inning and Mike Carp in the fourth.

Last Sunday at Tropicana Field, the clubs had a scrum after the Red Sox were yelling from the dugout when Yunel Escobar stole third with the Rays holding a big lead.

The Red Sox grabbed a 3-0 lead in the third when Holt homered in Boston’s bullpen after Herrera singled. Carp added a sacrifice fly.

Boston added two more in the fourth and chased Odorizzi. Herrera dropped down a safety squeeze, and was credited with a hit, when Grady Sizemore slid in just under the throw, making it 4-0. A.J. Pierzynski added an RBI single.

Bradley Jr.’s two-run homer made it 7-0 in the fifth.

NOTES: Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia was out with a sore right hand. He was hurt on a swing in Friday. He had an MRI and the results showed “no further or structural damage.” … Rays RF Wil Myers and SS Escobar were also out with injuries. Myers hurt his right hand in a fall when he tumbled over CF Desmond Jennings as the pair collided on Pierzynski’s game-ending triple on Friday. Escobar injured his quad running out a grounder Friday, but Maddon said he should be back “(Sunday) or Monday at the worst.” … Red Sox LHP Jon Lester (5-6, 3.45 ERA) faces LHP Erik Bedard (2-3, 4.10) in the series finale on Sunday. … To make room for De La Rosa, the Red Sox optioned OF/1B Daniel Nava to Pawtucket.