ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Rookie Cole Figueroa’s one-out double in the bottom of the ninth inning ended a marathon pitchers’ duel and gave the Tampa Bay Rays a 1-0 win over the Boston Red Sox on Friday night at Tropicana Field.
Boston’s eighth consecutive loss dropped the Red Sox to 20-27 and into last place in the American League East by percentage points below the Rays (21-28), who won their second consecutive game.
Center fielder Desmond Jennings began the decisive rally with a one-out walk against reliever Andrew Miller. Jennings stole his 11th base of the season on a pitchout, capitalizing on high throws from both new reliever Burke Badenhop and catcher A.J. Pierzynski.
Figueroa, who had his first big-league hit on Thursday, registered his first game-winner with a gapper on a 1-2 pitch.
Juan Carlos Oviedo picked up the win to improve to 1-0 and Miller fell to 1-3.
Rays starter Chris Archer set career highs in strikeouts (11) and pitches (119) but lasted just six innings, allowing six hits and four walks.
Although his high pitch count forced Rays manager Joe Maddon to delve into his bullpen early in the game to begin the three-game series, the start was encouraging for Archer. He had not lasted six innings since April 25 and had gone 4 2/3 or less in four consecutively.
At least for one start, he also improved a 1.06 strikeout-to-walk ratio in the last four starts.
Red Sox starter John Lackey lasted a more efficient but eventful seven innings, working out of trouble in the sixth and seventh innings as the Rays placed runners in scoring position with one out.
Lackey retired first baseman James Loney with the potential lead run on third to end the sixth and shortstop Yunel Escobar and catcher Ryan Hanigan to finish the seventh after an error by third baseman Brock Holt began a Rays rally. The veteran returned for the eighth but was removed after allowing a leadoff single to designated hitter David DeJesus.
Lackey allowed five hits and a walk with three strikeouts in seven innings plus a batter, relinquishing two runs or less for the seventh time in nine starts.
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NOTES: Red Sox DH David Ortiz broke an 0-for-17 slide with a broken-bat, opposite-field single in the first inning, through a gaping hole in an exaggerated shift. ... Boston has used 38 different lineups in 46 games. ... Rays 3B Evan Longoria, again hitting out of the second spot in the order, had his first multi-hit game in 11 games.