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Rapid Reaction: Red Sox 7, Rays 1

5/31/2014

BOSTON -- Who would have thought the only fireworks would come off the bats of Brock Holt and Jackie Bradley Jr.?

Tensions eased as the Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays faced off for the second game in this weekend’s series at Fenway Park. And the only time players were hit by pitches came on an errant 72-mile-per-hour curveball and a wild pitch in the dirt.

The biggest statement made was with Holt’s bat. Holt hit his first career home run -- a two-run shot -- spurring a three-run third inning in the Red Sox’ 7-1 win, as Boston extended its winning streak to six games.

Bradley Jr. also added his first home run of the season, coming off left-hander Cesar Ramos in the fifth inning.

Hello Rubby Saturday: Rubby De La Rosa made his first start with the Red Sox since joining the organization in the 2012 blockbuster trade that sent Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The result was one of the finer pitching performances the Red Sox have received this season.

De La Rosa’s fastball was combustible, topping off at an even 100 miles per hour in the third inning. However, it was his changeup -- in the range of 88-92 mph -- that was most effective. Six of De La Rosa’s eight strikeouts came via the changeup.

Through seven innings, De La Rosa didn’t allow a run, walking none while allowing just four hits. He threw 105 pitches with 72 for strikes.

It was De La Rosa’s first Major League start since July 31, 2011, as a member of the Dodgers.

Holt gives another jolt: Before his blast, Holt continued to show his comfort playing third base, helping De La Rosa out of a first-and-third jam in the second.

With two on and two outs, Sean Rodriguez hit a chop to Holt. The ball forced Holt to dive to his right while making the play on the hop. After corralling the bounding ball, Holt delivered a strike to first base from deep in the hole.

After his sterling defensive play, Holt hit his first Major League home run, taking a Jake Odorizzi 3-2 fastball into the Red Sox bullpen.

Before the game, Red Sox manager John Farrell laid out plans for Holt to begin working in the outfield and at first base, in an effort to maximize Holt’s versatility -- another potential positive for his campaign to stick with the club.

Herrera’s game: Jonathan Herrera made his first start since May 11, taking the place of second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who was scratched due to the injury to his right hand in Friday night’s game.

Herrera seized the opportunity, going 3-for-4 with three singles from the No. 9 hole. He scored on Holt’s home run and then followed with an RBI in the fourth, plating Grady Sizemore on a perfectly executed safety squeeze. Herrera would later score his second run of the game on an A.J. Pierzynski RBI single.

Pedroia had X-rays early Saturday that returned negative before undergoing an MRI near game time. The Red Sox announced during the game that the MRI found neither a fracture nor structural damage to Pedroia’s hand.

JBJ bruised, not defeated: The Rays scored their lone run of the game when Kevin Kiermaier hit an inside-the-park homer off the left-center field wall against reliever Alex Wilson in the eighth.

Kiermaier rounded the bases with little challenge after Bradley Jr. went smashing into the scoreboard -- his head hitting the wall while the ball also made contact with his face. Despite the hellacious looking hit, Bradley Jr., who remained down on the warning track for some time, toughed it out to remain in the game -- albeit with some surgical gauze stuffed in his nose.