ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Left-hander David Price pitched eight strong innings and third baseman Evan Longoria hit a three-run double in the decisive seventh inning, leading the Tampa Bay Rays to a 6-4 win over the Boston Red Sox on Friday night at Tropicana Field.
Dueling against Red Sox ace Jon Lester in front of a crowded section of scouts preparing for the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, Price (11-7, 3.08 ERA) struck out 10 and allowed only three runs as he picked up his sixth win in his last six starts.
But it was Longoria who delivered in the biggest moment, clearing the bases and breaking a 3-3 tie in the seventh with a double down the left-field line off Red Sox reliever Junichi Tazawa.
The resurgent Rays (50-53) have now won eight in a row and 26 of 37 games since June 11, remaining 4½ games behind the Yankees for the second American League wild card spot.
Meanwhile, Boston (47-56) has lost four straight after winning eight of its last nine.
With the Red Sox falling into the AL East’s cellar, Lester has become a more frequent topic in trade rumors. The lefty allowed two runs on six hits while striking out seven over six innings.
Boston took a 3-2 lead in the sixth on singles by designated hitter David Ortiz and right fielder Shane Victorino, but the Sox bullpen coughed it up in the seventh.
After outfielder Ben Zobrist tied the game with an RBI single to right field, right-hander Tazawa (1-2, 3.15 ERA) walked left fielder Brandon Guyer, loading the bases for Longoria. The third baseman worked a 2-2 count before pulling a 77-mph curveball into the left-field corner and giving the Rays a three-run lead.Boston brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth but could only manage a sacrifice fly by catcher David Ross.The Red Sox struck first when Victorino took Price deep to left field in the second inning for a 1-0 lead. Victorino’s solo shot, his second home run of the season, continued his hot streak since coming off the disabled list Saturday.
But with Price holding the line, the Rays bounced back in the fifth inning. First baseman James Loney singled to lead off the inning before center fielder Desmond Jennings launched his ninth homer of the season, putting Tampa Bay ahead 2-1.
Those were the only in-game fireworks, despite the expectation that the feud between Price and Ortiz might continue and spill over into Friday’s game.
Price hit two Red Sox players, including Ortiz, on May 30 and started a benches-clearing incident, an assumed response to the way Ortiz watched a home run leave Fenway Park in last year’s American League Division Series. The two exchanged harsh words through the media in the days after the game.Ortiz came to the plate with two outs in the first inning and struck out looking on three pitches. Ortiz came up again in the fourth inning and flied out to center field on Price’s first pitch.
Notes: Red Sox Ortiz (back spasms) was back in the starting lineup Friday night after leaving Thursday’s game in the ninth inning. ... The Rays received several bits of good news on the injury front Friday, with reliever Joel Peralta (illness) scheduled for a minor-league game this weekend and return Monday, OF Wil Myers (right wrist fracture) hitting off a tee and C Ryan Hanigan (left oblique strain) feeling “much better,” according to manager Joe Maddon. ... Boston RHP John Lackey (11-6, 3.66 ERA) will face Tampa Bay RHP Jeremy Hellickson (0-0, 2.08) tonight. Hellickson will be called up from the minors, where he pitched during the All-Star break to stay fresh after missing time earlier this season.