ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — In the ongoing battle between David Ortiz and the Tampa Bay Rays pitching staff, Big Papi got the final laugh Sunday and he let starter Chris Archer know it.
Ortiz hit a mammoth three-run homer and Allen Webster earned his first victory of the season as the Boston Red Sox defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 on Sunday.
With the win, the Red Sox ended a five-game slide and snapped the Rays’ season-high nine-game winning streak. It was also the first Red Sox win in Tropicana Field this season.
After connecting on the blast, Ortiz flipped his bat and took a few seconds to admire his work before trotting around the bases.
Archer wasn’t as impressed with Ortiz’s antics.
“I think it was a perfect example of what (David) Price said,” Archer said. “I don’t know what makes him think he can showboat the way he does and then nobody retaliate, nobody look at him funny, nobody pitch him inside. He feels like he’s bigger than the game. I feel like you can’t say that your true character is defined by one action, but multiple actions speak to who you are.”
Ortiz was dismissive of the criticism.
“Whatever, man. I think he’s a good pitcher with good stuff,” Ortiz said. “He’s not the right guy to be saying that. He has something like two days in the league and shouldn’t be complaining about (stuff).”
Archer walked Daniel Nava with one out in the third inning and second baseman Dustin Pedroia reached on an infield single to set the table for Ortiz and give the Red Sox a 3-0 lead.
The Rays quickly answered in the bottom of the third when center fielder Brandon Jennings hit a double to the wall in left center that scored catcher Curt Casali and right fielder Kevin Kiermaier to cut the deficit to 3-2.
After giving up the double, Webster walked left fielder Ben Zobrist and a double steal gave the Rays runners on second and third with one out. However, Webster settled down and struck out designated hitter Matt Joyce and third baseman Evan Longoria to end the threat.
“We had opportunities and we didn’t take advantage of a couple of opportunities that we had so you’ve got to give them credit,” said Rays manager Joe Maddon. “Still the goal was to win the series and we won the series once again.”
Both pitchers locked in from that point as Archer retired nine of the last 10 batters he faced while Webster escaped a small jam in the fourth by retiring Kiermaier with Yunel Escobar on third.
Although Webster walked five, he gave up just three hits and two runs while striking out four in 5 1/3 innings.
“I thought (Webster) battled and kept things under control,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “He got a key double play in the fifth inning and overall he showed a willingness to attack the strike zone.”
In the sixth inning, Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. made a stellar defensive play to rob Longoria of extra bases when he extended himself to make a catch while going head first into the outfield wall.
“I knew it was going to be in the gap so I took off that way and was able to pick it backup and time my jump,” Bradley Jr. said. “It was a momentum starter for us to close out the game.”
The Red Sox used five relievers to end the game and Koji Uehara recorded his 21st save by striking out second baseman Sean Rodriguez, Casali and Kiermaier after giving up a single to Escobar to lead off the ninth inning.