FORT MYERS, Fla. — John Lackey worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning, allowing one run in 20 pitches, while Jose Iglesias hit a two-run homer over the Monster as the Red Sox fell to the Rays, 4-3, Saturday afternoon at JetBlue Park in the Grapefruit League opener for both clubs. Xander Bogaerts, in his final at-bat before leaving for the WBC, singled home a run in the ninth to make it close. Daniel Nava struck out looking with the tying run on base to end the game before a sellout crowd of 9,680 at JetBlue Park.
Lackey was making his first outing since Sept. 25, 2011 and his first since Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.
He allowed one run, one hit, walked one, struck out one and a hit a batter as the Rays managed just one run after loading the bases with none out in the first.
Ryan Roberts drove in the game’s first run with a sacrifice fly to right off Lackey, scoring Ben Zobrist. The Rays added another in the third as Jarrod Saltalamacchia had an inning to forget. He dropped a foul pop that extended the at-bat of Jack Cust. On the next pitch, Desmond Jennings stole third and Saltalamacchia’s throw sailed into left field, allowing Jennings to score, making it 2-0.
The Red Sox went quietly in the first six innings before Jeremy Hazelbaker walked with one out. Iglesias followed by driving a first-pitch fastball over the Monster in left for Boston’s first homer of the spring, tying the game, 2-2.
The Rays got those two runs back in the eighth when Leslie Anderson drilled a two-run homer to right off Red Sox righty Oscar Villarreal (0-1) with two outs.
Saltalamacchia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Hazelbaker had doubles as extra-base hits accounted for four of Boston’s seven hits on the day.
The Red Sox return to action across the state on Sunday as they take on the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter at 1:05 p.m. as lefty Jon Lester makes his spring debut. Boston plays split-squad games on Monday with Steven Wright starting against Toronto in Dunedin at 1:05 p.m. and Alfredo Aceves starting against Tampa Bay in Port Charlotte at 1:05 p.m.
POST-GAME NOTES from John Farrell:
On the homer from Iglesias: “Wish there were a couple more like it. As we have commented on him as camp has unfolded, he’s a little bit more upright, a little more free in his overall swing. He got a fastball up in the zone and did what he’s capable of doing. I think more than anything, it’s just the freeness and aggressiveness of the swing.”
On Xander Bogaerts, RBI single, nice defensive play in rundown: “A good heads up play on the rundown we executed. He’s got a good swing through the zone and like I said the other day, he’s a bright-looking young player. He’s heady. He’s got field awareness. Good things are ahead for him.”
On Daniel Nava first base defense: “As we’ve seen in the work, that wasn’t an easy play on that ground ball by [Ben] Zobrist. He looks fine over there for right now. The little things, even on the errant throw [by Iglesias] that you see the footwork where he adjusted on the bag, some things that are more instinctual. To have him step in and the last time he played first base was in junior college, and he’s handled it well.”
On Clay Buchholz 37-pitch simulated game: “He’ll have a side on Monday and then he’s set to go Tuesday or Wednesday. It’s yet to be determined. We’ll fit that into how it starts to plan out for the start of the regular season. He’s gradually ramping up the intensity [on fielding], not only just with field tests as far as straight-ahead running or any kind of cuts, but in time, that’ll take its place. We want to prioritize the work he does on the mound right now.”
For more, visit the Red Sox team page at weei.com/redsox.
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