ST. PETERSBURG -- Bobby Valentine said he could sense his guys wanted Thursday night's game, and the Boston Red Sox played like it.
A night after having their five-game winning streak stopped, the Red Sox regained their mid-May momentum, beating the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3 at Tropicana Field on Thursday.
"I just think these guys were ready to get back to the winning ways," Boston's manager said.
Cody Ross hit his seventh home run and drove in four runs, and Marlon Byrd hit his first home run for Boston, helping the Sox gain a split in the two-game series.
"Cody was big tonight," Valentine said after Ross drew a bases-loaded walk in the first, hit a two-out solo home run in the third and broke the game open with a two-run single in the eighth. "He busted the third changeup he saw over the center field fence, and he busted the (defensive) shift for two RBIs that turned out to be the two we needed.
"Cody will give you eveything he has and, it's enough for me. Good player."
Felix Doubront (4-1) won his third consecutive start after allowing two runs on six hits over 5 2/3 innings. Alfredo Aceves picked up his eighth save after getting the final four outs.
The Rays lost for the first time in five games and for only the fourth this year at home.
They made it interesting in the eighth, though, pulling to 5-3 on B.J. Upton's RBI single and getting two runners in scoring position before Aceves got Luke Scott to ground out to end the threat.
Matt Moore (1-4), the Rays' touted 22-year-old rookie, struggled in the early innings before settling in. He retired the side in his final three frames before leaving after six innings with his team trailing 3-2.
"If you consider how I dug a hole for us early in the game, it was OK," Moore said. "I feel like some adjustments were made (in which) I just started attacking more, especially (with) two guys we were maybe nibbling at earlier."
Balls-and-strikes calls were an issue for the Red Sox for a second consecutive night.
Adrian Gonzalez complained after Boston's 2-1 loss Wednesday that it was hard to have "a professional at-bat" with the umpiring, and on Thursday, shortstop and leadoff man Mike Aviles received his first career ejection in the seventh inning for arguing a two-out, third-strike call by Dan Bellino.
Valentine didn't back off after the game.
"We can't fight the umpire and the other team, but we're a highly competitive team, and you like to be given a chance," he said. "Other guys had complaints tonight, and I was with them."
Righty reliever Burke Badenhop struck out the side in that seventh inning, also getting Byrd and Kelly Shoppach.
The Rays scored single runs in the third and fourth against Doubront after Boston took a 3-0 lead and threatened again in the sixth, when Ben Zobrist singled with two out and Upton doubled to put runners at first and third.
Lefty Rich Hill came on and got Scott to fly out to left.
The Red Sox loaded the bases and scored one run in the first against Moore, who has struggled with his location and high pitch counts.
Aviles and David Ortiz singled, and Gonzalez, who had predicted to the Boston media he would hit a home run Thursday night, took a first-pitch fastball to the hip area.
Valentine didn't think the pitch was intentional.
"If it was, it was the stupidest thing I've ever seen in baseball," he said. "But it might have been. I doubt it. If it was (that kind of ) stupidity, maybe the game has passed me by."
After Moore struck out Will Middlebrooks for the second out, Ross took a close 2-2 pitch off the outside corner for a ball, fouled off a couple of pitches, and drew an RBI walk.
By the time Moore struck out Daniel Nava for the third out, he'd thrown 33 pitches.
Byrd led off with a home run in the second, and Ross' two-out solo home run in the third put Boston ahead 3-0.
Byrd, acquired from the Chicago Cubs last month, homered for the first time for his new team.
The Rays punched back with one run each in the third and the fourth innings.
Jeff Keppinger's line-drive single to left scored Upton after a two-out rally began with a catcher's interference call against Shoppach. Then, in the fourth, Rich Thompson's two-out single up the middle scored Sean Rodriguez to pull the Rays to 3-2.
Thompson was making his first major league start, at age 33 and a day after the Rays acquired him from the Phillies.
His only previous major league at-bat had come in 2004 for Kansas City, when he hit into a double play against catcher Tim Laker, who was pitching in a mop-up role.
Thompson wasn't done, either. He followed his RBI single by stealing second and third base before the Rays left the bases loaded when Scott hit a hard line drive to first baseman Gonzalez.
NOTES: Rays infielder Will Rhymes (bruised right forearm) was not in the starting lineup after getting hit by a pitch and passing out at first base Wednesday night, but he said he could take the field as soon as Friday. He said watching a replay of the incident was "kind of tough" and that he hadn't realized "I was out like that." ... Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis (lower back strain), who began a minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday, will play his second game Friday (and first in the field). Right-handed pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka (right elbow surgery) made his fifth minor league rehab start for Pawtucket. ... The Rays are intrigued by newly acquired Thompson's 442 minor league stolen bases, including an International League-leading 48 last year. "He's been able to maintain his speed over time, and that's a big part of why he's still attractive," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. ... Ortiz will likely play at least one game at first base in the weekend interleague series at Philadelphia, Valentine said. Gonzalez would move to right field. ... Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (partial hamstring tear) worked on his hand-eye coordination before the game by taking grounders from his knees. ... The Rays still haven't announced who'll pitch for injured Jeff Niemann on Saturday against Atlanta, but it will likely be Alex Cobb or Chris Archer from Triple-A Durham.
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