Devil Rays 4, Red Sox 3, 11 innings
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—No one was more relieved when Brandon Lyon’s errant pickoff throw rolled into center field than Rocco Baldelli, whose baserunning gaffe nearly cost the Tampa Bay Devil Rays a chance to beat the Boston Red Sox.
Instead, Baldelli raced home from second base with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning night for a 4-3 victory that left both teams shaking their heads in amazement over the way the game ended Tuesday night.
“That was a lot of luck,” Baldelli said.
“It was a weird game,” Boston shortstop Nomar Garciaparra said.
Baldelli broke for third base before Lyon went into his stretch and would have been an easy out if the Red Sox pitcher hadn’t thrown the ball behind Garciaparra, who was moving toward second to cover the bag.
Garciaparra adjusted, but the ball skipped off the end of his glove and rolled into center field.
“Baldelli just took off. I don’t know where he was going,” Boston manager Grady Little said.
Baldelli explained that he was hoping to catch Boston off-guard and steal a base that was unprotected because third baseman Bill Mueller was playing off the bag. It’s a play the rookie tried numerous times in the minors, and actually executed successfully last weekend against the Atlanta Braves.
“It didn’t work (this time),” Baldelli said. “In the big picture, it worked. But I don’t think it’s something I’m going to do again real soon.”
Lance Carter (5-3) pitched three innings in relief to get the win. Lyon (3-5) replaced Byung-Hyun Kim at the start of the 11th. Baldelli reached on a fielder’s choice and stole second before scoring the winning run.
The Devil Rays took a 3-1 lead into the ninth, but Carter couldn’t hold it.
Carter’s first pitch struck Mueller on the right foot. Jason Varitek doubled on the second pitch, setting the stage for Todd Walker’s two-run single that made it 3-3 and denied Tampa Bay rookie Jason Standridge his first major league win.
Damian Rolls, who’s 12-for-31 with seven extra-base hits and 12 RBIs in his last eight games, singled with the bases loaded to drive in two runs off John Burkett during Tampa Bay’s three-run first inning.
Ben Grieve also had a RBI single in the first.
The Red Sox, who won six of their previous seven while outscoring Detroit and Florida 75-33, wasted an opportunity for more when Tampa Bay reliever Al Levine struck out Mueller with the bases loaded to end the sixth.
The Devil Rays played under protest after the umpires huddled and reversed the call on a play that took momentum away from Tampa Bay’s three-run first and delayed the game for 12 minutes.
The confusion began when Tampa Bay’s Marlon Anderson hit a sinking liner to center with one out and runners at first and second.
First base umpire Mike Fichter incorrectly ruled that Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon made a tumbling catch before scrambling to his feet to throw to second base for an inning-ending double play.
Television replays confirmed that Damon trapped the ball.
Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella argued the call and crew chief Joe Brinkman overturned the ruling and awarded Anderson first base, which in turn brought Boston manager Grady Little out of the dugout.
After several minutes of discussion, Brinkman ruled Damon’s throw produced a force out. Play resumed with two outs and runners at first and third. Burkett got out of the jam when the next batter, Toby Hall, grounded out.
“Boston’s complaint was they had a force out at second base,” Piniella said. “My complaint was alright, give them the out at second base, give us a run.”
Burkett settled in after the delay to retire 12 in a row before Baldelli singled for the Devil Rays with two outs in the bottom of the fifth.
The Devil Rays wasted a chance to break the game open when they loaded the bases with one out in the seventh against reliever Chad Fox. Alan Embreereplaced Fox and retired Grieve and Travis Lee to get out of the inning.
The Red Sox finished with 10 hits, extending their streak of consecutive games with double-digit hits to eight. … Garciaparra went 3-for-6 for his 36th multi-hit game this season. … The Red Sox moved Kim from the starting rotation to the bullpen in the closer’s role. RHP Tim Wakefieldreplaces him as Thursday night’s scheduled starter against Tampa Bay.