PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) -The race for the fifth job in Tampa Bay's pitching rotation is still too close to call.
Candidates Wade Davis and Andy Sonnanstine combined with reliever Dan Wheeler on a four-hitter Tuesday night, shutting down a Boston split squad 7-0 for the Rays' third victory over the Red Sox this spring.
Davis worked four innings, allowing three hits, walking one and striking out five in the sharpest of his three exhibition outings. He allowed five runs and walked three in two innings in a start against Pittsburgh last week.
Wheeler pitched a scoreless fifth, walking one and striking out two.
Sonnanstine, who helped the Rays reach the World Series two years ago before losing his spot in the rotation last season, allowed one hit, walked none and struck out three over the last four innings.
``Makes it very difficult and it's a good thing,' manager Joe Maddon said of the competition for the final spot in a young rotation that will also include James Shields, Matt Garza, Jeff Niemann and David Price.
``It's a good problem to have. They're competing very well,' Maddon added. ``Wade looked like he did at the end of last season. Sonny looked like he's supposed to. That's really encouraging to see.'
David Ortiz had two of Boston's three hits off Davis, one of three rookies - along with Niemann and Price - who finished 2009 in Tampa Bay's rotation.
``It's good to see him come back and look more like himself,' Maddon said. ``He had a good focus before the game and then he went out and made pitches.'
Red Sox starter Felix Doubront allowed one hit in three scoreless innings. He has not allowed a run in seven innings this spring.
The Rays scored three runs off Boof Bonser, two of them on Gabe Kapler's fourth-inning single. Sean Rodriguez hit a two-run homer off Junichi Tazawa in the eighth.
Earlier in the day, Boston manager Terry Francona watched another split squad lose 3-0 to the Houston Astros.
Francona and pitching coach John Farrell endured heavy traffic on a drive from Kissimmee to Port Charlotte, arriving about 15 minutes before game time.
``That was a lot of baseball. Not a lot of runs, but a lot of baseball,' Francona said. ``It's been a good full day. ... John Farrell never once offered to drive.'
The Red Sox issued a statement during the game saying that one of the club's top minor league prospects, outfielder Ryan Westmoreland, had undergone surgery in Arizona to remove a cavernous malformation in his brain.
A five-hour procedure was performed by Dr. Robert Spetzler at the Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix.
The statement said Westmoreland remained in the intensive care unit ``but has come through the surgery well.' It added that because of the complexity of the surgery, the 19-year-old will ``face a difficult period initially before beginning his recovery.'
Francona received an update from Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein.
``It sounds like very encouraging news,' Francona said. ``We're obviously thrilled about that and thankful.'
Notes: The Rays optioned RHP Jeremy Hellickson, OF Desmond Jennings and C Craig Albernaz to the minor leagues. The team did not announce which affiliates. ... The Rays were off Monday, but Price remained on schedule by throwing 60 pitches in a minor league intrasquad game. ... Red Sox INF Mike Lowell started at first base and batted twice before leaving the game in the third inning.
The Associated Press News Service
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