BOSTON -- Jacoby Ellsbury's easier to be without when everyone else is mashing.
The Red Sox hit five home runs on Saturday vs. the Rays, and the solo shot that put Boston ahead in a 13-5 win came from Mike Aviles, Ellsbury's fill-in atop the lineup. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Cody Ross also homered, all but Pedroia for the first time this season.
Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz again put the Red Sox in an early hole, letting up four runs in the first. He threw 43 pitches through two innings, too, making a bullpen day look inevitable, but the right-hander rebounded to last seven innings and notch his first win since June 16, 2011.
"Lost in the entire offensive deal we had going on today was how he pitched," Aviles said of Buchholz. "It may not look like he pitched really good, but he gave up four runs in the first inning, and after that, he bared down and kept us in the game. I think that shows a lot of his character and what kind of repertoire he has in his pitches. Anytime a starting pitcher gets down 4-0, it's really easy to drop your head and go through the motions. He didn't do that and kept us in the game."
Boston (3-5) is on a win streak for the first time in 2012 and guaranteed itself a split of its four-game set with Tampa Bay (4-4). The Red Sox's offense broke out a day earlier on Friday against the Rays, but one thing was still missing: power. The Sox entered Saturday with just two home runs, the fewest in the Majors.
Aviles, who coincidentally was leading off in the seventh inning, took a 1-0 breaking ball from reliever Burke Badenhop just far enough to reach the Monster Seats for a 6-5 lead. Aviles didn't think the ball would get out because of the slightly higher Green Monster wall he was used to from Spring Training at JetBlue Park.
"As soon as I hit it, I was running hard, because I was like, 'I got to get to second base, because I want to get to scoring position so we could get that run,'" Aviles said. "When I got to first and saw the umpire signal homer, I was like, 'That works, too.'"
Two innings earlier, Ortiz tied the game at 5 with a two-out two-run homer into the Sox's bullpen, one pitch after Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson was not given an inside strike-three call by home-plate umpire Todd Tichenor.
"I did [think the pitch was a strike], but I'm not the umpire," said Hellickson, who gave up five runs in as many innings.
The Sox plated two more runs in the seventh following Aviles' homer, both on a Cody Ross double. Leading 8-5, they broke things open with five more in the eighth: three from a bases-loaded Ortiz double, two from a Ross homer. Ortiz finished the day 4-for-5 with five RBIs, while Ross drove in four on the day.
Buchholz's trouble stemmed from his own poor command early and Luke Scott, the Rays' designated hitter who referred to Fenway Park as a dump during Spring Training. Scott ripped a three-run homer to right with two out in the first inning, and then added an RBI double in the third.
Buchholz's only other start this season saw him allow seven runs in four innings. But on Saturday, he was able to recover, retiring 12 of the last 13 he faced. The last batter Buchholz faced was Evan Longoria, who struck out swinging.
"That was definitely the first time I've ever done it, and I'm usually out of there by the fourth," Buchholz said of rebounding from his early, high pitch count to go that late into the game. "Just go pitch to pitch instead of inning to inning, just trying to make as few pitches as possible."
Manager Bobby Valentine said he considered pulling Buchholz nearly every inning from the middle of the game on. Overall, Buchholz yielded five runs on six hits, issued three walks, notched five strikeouts and tossed 104 pitches, 66 of which were strikes.
"I thought he was throwing the ball so well. He had another inning in him," Valentine said of his decision after six innings. "When he came in, I said, 'We'll get you some runs,' and we did, and I think he's a happy camper."
Saltalamacchia started the Sox's turnaround when he launched a two-run homer went to straightaway center in the second to cut the Rays' lead in half. Pedroia's solo shot to left made it 5-3 in the bottom of the third, setting up Ortiz's tying home run in the fifth.
"We've got a good-hitting team. We've never shied away from that," said Saltalamacchia, who entered the day 1-for-13 on the season. "We're just trying to see a lot of pitches, trying to get back to what we've done well, which is see pitches and try to put a good at-bat together. It's a dangerous lineup."