BOSTON (AP) — Facing four games in three days at Fenway Park, the Tampa Bay Rays were looking to Yonny Chirinos to be solid for as long as possible.
Chirinos exceeded all expectations, delivering eight scoreless innings of two-hit ball as Tampa Bay beat the Boston Red Sox 5-1 on Friday night.
"That was about as impressive as I've ever seen him throw. We needed that," said Kevin Kiermaier, who homered and drove in four runs. "To shut down a great offense like that is a lot easier said than done, but he went out there and did just that. He's been great for us all year, but tonight he was on another level."
Chirinos (7-2) had never gone more than 7 1-3 innings before stifling the Red Sox. He cruised through the first five innings on just 50 pitches and didn't allow a baserunner or hit until the sixth.
"Honestly, I wasn't even really thinking about whether they'd get a hit or not," Chirinos said through a translator. "I was out there just going batter by batter, just seeing what was going to happen. Thankfully, the results went our way."
Chirinos didn't permit a runner until he walked Brock Holt to start the sixth. Jackie Bradley Jr. followed with a single and Boston loaded the bases with one out, but Chirinos got out of the jam by striking out Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers.
Chirinos struck out six and walked two before Emilio Pagan took over in the ninth. Boston broke up the shutout with doubles by Benintendi and Xander Bogaerts.
Ji-Man Choi also homered for Tampa Bay, which didn't need much offense to front Chirinos.
The Rays tagged Rick Porcello (4-6) for four runs on eight hits in six innings.
Choi led off the second with his sixth homer and Tampa Bay added two more runs in the fourth after Brandon Lowe and Avisail Garcia started the inning with consecutive singles and Kiermaier drove in both with a single.
"For me that was kind of a momentum shifter. Chirinos was throwing the ball so well, you can't let them spread the game out to three runs there," Porcello said.
The Rays opened the sixth with back-to-back singles again off Porcello and Kiermaier singled home another run to make it 4-0.
"Four runs in six innings, it's not good enough to win especially against a team that's got the pitching that they have," Porcello said.
Chirinos is the first Tampa Bay starter to go eight innings this season. With a doubleheader on Saturday and the series finale Sunday afternoon, getting eight innings from Friday's starter was a great way to open the series, manager Kevin Cash said.
"What he just provided was huge for us given that we're playing four games in three days," Cash said. "We just had to go to one reliever."
The Rays improved to 3-3 against the Red Sox and the road team has won each of the first six meetings.
The Red Sox fell to 0-4 in opportunities to reach five games above .500.
"It's a loss. I don't think it's any tougher than other ones," Mookie Betts said. "Obviously you never want to lose, but you've got to tip your cap to Chirinos.
Rays: Recalled RHP Casey Sadler from Triple-A Durham and optioned RHP Hunter Wood to the Bulls.
Red Sox: Activated 1B Mitch Moreland (lower back) from the 10-day injured list. Moreland started at first base, but left after the sixth innings with tightness in his right quadriceps. ... Optioned RHP Ryan Weber to Triple-A Pawtucket.
Tampa Bay LHP Ryan Yarbrough (4-2, 6.23 ERA) faces Boston RHP Josh Smith (0-1, 4.91) in Game 1 on Saturday. Rays RHP Austin Pruitt (0-0, 7.36) goes against LHP David Price (3-2, 2.83) in Game 2.