Evan Longoria said the Rays were more than happy to wrap up a rough month of June on Wednesday night and "turn the page."
And the fact that they capped it off with a 9-4 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park, a victory that looked like many in their hot start, had them feeling good heading into a four-game series in Minnesota.
Though the Rays lost 14 of 25 games in June, free-falling from first place to third in the American League East, they're still within striking distance, two games behind the Yankees and one behind the Red Sox.
"It feels like we've been playing so bad, terrible," shortstop Jason Bartlett said. "But you look at the standings, we're right there. If we can just keep grinding, rest up during the All Star break, and come to the second half, we can get back on track."
Right-hander Matt Garza (9-5), for the second straight impressive start, "got back to basics," using his fastball aggressively and taming the Red Sox for just three runs, getting pulled two batters into the eighth. With the win, his fourth in his past five starts, he surpassed his total from last season.
"I'm a smash-mouth guy," Garza said. "I'm going to come at you, and come at you hard. And I think everybody in the league knows that."
The Rays (45-32) challenged Daisuke Matsuzaka from the get-go, loading the bases in the first inning and forcing the Red Sox right-hander to throw 29 pitches but failing to score. Tampa Bay finally broke through in the fourth, when Kelly Shoppach ripped a two-run double off the centerfield wall, and Ben Zobrist followed with a two-out RBI single to make it 3-0 Rays.
The Rays made some great plays defensively, including a tough running catch by Matt Joyce in the rightfield corner to end the seventh. And Zobrist, filling in admirably for an injured B.J. Upton (sore right quadriceps), covered a lot of ground in Fenway's spacious centerfield.
But the Rays didn't break away until the eighth when, clinging to a 3-1 lead, they exploded for a six-run rally. Tampa Bay's scuffling offense hadn't scored six runs in a game since an 11-inning win over the Marlins on June 19.
"You've got to think it'd happen sometime for us," Longoria said. "We've been pretty stagnant over the last couple weeks. ... Hopefully we can continue it."
Carlos Pena got a big hit in the eighth with an RBI double and has now reached base safely in 17 of his past 21 games. Sean Rodriguez followed with a two-run single, and Bartlett hit his first homer since May 19, a three-run shot over the Green Monster in left to make it 9-1. The runs proved big, as the Red Sox scored three in the eighth.
"You don't want to give this crowd and this team a chance to get back into it," Longoria said. "Because we've seen some crazy things happen over here the past three years. So it was good to kind of put them away when you have a chance."
And put the month of June to bed with a bang.