BOSTON — Yunel Escobar led off the ninth inning with a go-ahead solo home run as visiting Tampa Bay stormed back to beat the Boston Red Sox 6-5 on Thursday night to complete a doubleheader sweep.
Sean Rodriguez homered among three hits and scored three times while James Loney drove in a pair for the Rays, who took a 2-1 decision in the opener. Jake McGee (2-0) worked out of a jam in the eighth and earned the win in relief when Escobar homered to left off Koji Uehara (0-1).
David Ortiz drove in two runs and Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli and Grady Sizemore each added an RBI for the Red Sox. Victorino doubled leading off the bottom of the ninth and moved up on Ortiz’s groundout before Grant Balfour struck out Napoli and Xander Bogaerts to lock up his second save of the day and sixth of the season.
The Rays grabbed the lead on Loney’s RBI single in the second and made it 2-0 when Desmond Jennings homered to left in the third. Chris Archer avoided major damage in the first four frames but could not work his way out of a jam in the fifth, hitting Victorino with the bases loaded to force in a a run before Ortiz ripped a single through the shift into right to plate the tying and go-ahead runs.
Napoli and Sizemore each added an RBI single to extend Boston’s lead out to 5-2. Rodriguez struck in the sixth, sending a two-run blast to cut it to 5-4 before scoring the tying run on Loney’s single off Junichi Tazawa in the eighth.
Game 1: Rays 2, Red Sox 1
Tampa Bay really had no interest in making up Wednesday night’s rainout with a split doubleheader on Thursday. But if you have to play it, you might as well win it — and the Rays edged the Sox 2-1 in the controversial day portion of the twin bill.
Boston lost this game on Dustin Pedroia Bobblehead Day (the giveaway makeup from Wednesday), and it was Pedroia right in the middle of the controversy. The second baseman led off the seventh inning with a single off reliever Jake McGee. With one out, designated hitter David Ortiz doubled off the Green Monster in left-center field. Left fielder Matt Joyce got the ball to shortstop Yunel Escobar, who threw home. Catcher Jose Molina put the tag on a sliding Pedroia, who was called out by covering first base umpire Toby Basner as Pedroia tried to hit the corner of the plate.
“I just slid to the back part of the plate. That’s basically it,” Pedroia said.
Asked if he touched the plate, Pedroia said, “Thought so. I haven’t really seen the replay. When it happened, that’s why I was frustrated when he called me out.
“I don’t really know what the rules are. I just know that if you plow the catcher, you’re ejected and out and then fined and then suspended, so ... I think my job is to go as hard as I can to the back part of the plate and slide and I did that.”
The Red Sox protested vehemently and the play went to review. Even though the home crowd roared at the replay, there was nothing conclusive to overturn the call. Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield was ejected by Basner.
“Again, whatever the call is on the field, it’s going to stand up unless there’s something overwhelming in the other direction,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “I didn’t see anything overwhelmingly in the other direction.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell disagreed.
“I thought not only did Dustin beat the throw, beat the tag, but felt like his left foot made some contact with home plate,” Farrell said. “Our video internally showed that that was the case. Upon review, the call came back, it stood. Felt like there wasn’t conclusive enough evidence to overturn the call on the field.”
“We don’t seem to be getting any calls and it’s extremely frustrating,” Red Sox pitcher Jake Peavy said. “Obviously, it’s close, I’ll give it to you it’s close. But would you err on the side of what we all saw, and that’s him touching the plate? It’s just extremely frustrating when that decides ballgames. We agreed to replay to get the calls right — that’s the reason we agreed for this to happen. And to not get them right ... I don’t want to hear anybody’s explanation.”
“I know what I see. You can’t talk me into anything different. You see what you see — Dustin Pedroia was clearly safe, albeit close, clearly safe. I don’t know what else to say.”
Five Tampa Bay pitchers combined on a six-hitter, designated hitter David DeJesus hit a solo homer (No. 2 on the year) and drew a bases-loaded walk off Peavy (1-1) in the fourth inning — Peavy’s third straight walk with a man on and two out.
Reliever Brandon Gomes, the losing pitcher on Tuesday night, raised his record to 2-1 with an inning and a third of work and Grant Balfour notched his fifth save. He retired Ortiz with Pedroia (two hits) and second and two out in the ninth.
The Red Sox, who got a first-inning RBI single from left fielder Jonny Gomes, said the doubleheader scheduling, instead of being at a date later in the season, had nothing to do with the Pedroia giveaway. Regardless, the Rays weren’t thrilled at the whole thing.
Then they won the game.
NOTES: LHP David Price opens the Rays’ three-game series at Yankee Stadium tonight, while RHP Clay Buchholz opens Boston’s three-game home set against Oakland. ... The announced crowd for the day game was 35,621 but there was only about half of that in attendance. ... The Red Sox called up LHP Drake Britton for the second game.