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Rays beat Red Sox as Mikie Mahtook snaps a long hitting slump

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As they compete for the AL East pennant, the Boston Red Sox are probably asking themselves one question this morning.

Mikie Mahtook?

Really?

The Red Sox lost their second straight game to the Tampa Bay Rays Thursday night, dropping a 2-1 decision as Mahtook knocked in Steven Souza with the winning run. Mahtook had been mired in 0-for-34 slump, and the hit left his average at only .138. Only three other Rays have ever had longer hitless streaks (Luke Scott’s 0-for-41 is the record).

“You go in every day expecting to get hits and expecting to do well. Day after day, it just kind of gets on you. Finally, to break through like that, was nice,” Mahtook said. “It was a relief, but it was more of me feeling good about all the work that I put in leading up to it to finally see the results. It’s nice that I don’t have to have that record (Scott’s) on the books.”

The Rays won because Jake Odorizzi threw seven innings and allowed only one earned run to improve his record to 9-5. Matt Duffy had two hits. And Enny Romero recorded his first save of the year by striking out David Ortiz for the last out. The bullpen ended this series with 11 innings of scoreless baseball.

“Great win,” said Rays’ manager Kevin Cash. “Man, we needed a lot of things to come together for us to get that win, and it seemed like they all did today. Outstanding. Offensively, Drew Pomeranz was tough. First time a lot of our guys had seen him. He had really good carry to the fastball, his curveball was breaking really sharp today. You could tell we just weren’t able to make some adjustments. He made it difficult for us. But the little adjustments we did make counted quite a bit. Brad Miller’s big hit through the shift to score Longo [in the 6th], and Mikie Mahtook’s overall tremendous day. He needed that for him. He’s been struggling and it’s nice to see a player that comes in and directly contributes to a big team victory like he did today.”

Odorizzi has allowed one run or fewer in five of his eight starts since the All-Star break. He’s 6-0 with a 1.59 ERA since the break. Still, he praised the team’s bullpen for his latest success.

“It’s been incredible,” Odorizzi said. “A lot of guys have been asked to go back-to-back with 20 pitches one outing, then have to go the next day. So it really shows how deep we are that those guys are able to answer the bell every single time. They’ve held down a great offense the last couple games.”

The Rays are in Houston today, where Drew Smyly will face Mike Fiers.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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